Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, has announced changes to the number of workers allowed on major construction sites, as part of the stage four lockdown restrictions, including reducing the number of construction workers by 75 percent.

Premier Andrews said that the construction sector would move to “pilot light levels” to allow the industry to keep moving while reducing the number of people on site.

Major construction sites must operate with the absolute minimum amount of workers required for safety, but no more than 25 per cent of the normal workforce on site.

Small-scale construction will be limited to a maximum of five people onsite.

Warehousing and distribution centres in Melbourne will be limited to no more than two-thirds the normal workforce allowed onsite at any one time. 

“Our construction sector, the lifeblood of our economy, will also move to pilot light levels. This will allow the industry to keep ticking – while also making sure we limit the number of people onsite,” Mr Andrews said.

“To date, we’ve almost halved the number of people onsite on some of our biggest Government projects. Now we’re going to go through project by project, line by line to make sure they are reduced to the practical minimum number of workers.”

The new restrictions for the construction industry start from 11.59pm on Friday 7 August and will be imposed for six weeks.

Mr Andrews said that workplaces that are continuing to operate will also have additional requirements including extra PPE, staggering shifts, staggering breaks, health declarations and more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home.

Businesses that are staying open must also enact a COVIDSafe plan, focusing on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace.

The freight transport and logistics industry will be able to continue operating to support the distribution of essential items to communities, and to support the supply chain needs of those businesses which are able to remain open.

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said the rail industry would operate under COVIDsafe plans to ensure essential passenger and freight services continued during Victoria’s toughest of days. 

“The rail industry has been working hard to keep essential services safely operating throughout 2020,” Ms Wilkie said.

“We welcome the Victorian Government’s recognition of the industry’s essential role in supporting the community and the businesses that will need to continue to operate over the coming weeks.”

Ms Wilkie said rail workers had moved quickly to introduce COVIDsafe plans when the pandemic began and were continuing to adjust their operations to meet new challenges in Victoria. 

“From the train drivers on passenger and freight services to those working in stations, workshops and in the office, rail workers have made sure essential services are there for people who need them no matter what,” Ms Wilkie said.

“We are enormously grateful for every rail worker that is increasing their cleaning schedules, providing services to support physical distancing, keeping their passengers informed and making sure our rail network stays COVIDsafe for all of us.”

The ARA said the new provisions confirmed by the Victorian Government struck the right balance between keeping business and industry operating and the need for additional public health measures to address the spread of COVID-19.

Ms Wilkie said manufacturing facilities would continue to support the industry within the limits of the new restrictions to make sure the reliability of the network was maintained.

“Now more than ever we need the rail network to be as reliable and efficient as possible and these businesses are crucial to that effort,” Ms Wilkie said. 

Ms Wilkie said the continued operation of rail manufacturing facilities would also be crucial to support the swift return to increased production that would be needed to help the economy rebound once restrictions ease.

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