construction workers at construction site

As COVID-19 Delta Variant cases rise across the country, government restrictions placed on construction continue to change. The current restrictions for states battling COVID outbreaks are as follows:

Victoria

Update: 4 September 

Construction Outbreak: The $220 million Box Hill Panorama Construction site has been shut down and listed as a Tier 1 exposure site on 24-29 August and 1-2 September, with a positive COVID case attending the site on those days. 

A site in Fishermans Bend near the Westgate Bridge was also attended by a positive COVID case, announced on 31 August. The site is a Port Melbourne Secondary School, at 477 Graham St, which is listed as being a hotspot from 24-27 August. 

From 2 September 2021 the following changes apply to all construction sites across Victoria. 

  • All sites will limit movement between multiple sites. Workers, including supervisors and managers, must not work at more than one site unless it is not reasonable and practical for the supervisor/manager to be limited to only one work site. For small-scale construction, supervisors can move between sites and specialist contractors can move between up to three sites per week.
  • Allow no more than one worker per four square metres of enclosed workspace
  • All workers will require an Authorised worker and provider permit issued by an employer, to be presented to Victoria Police or Authorised Officers on request.
  • All workers must wear face masks indoors and outdoors, unless a lawful reason not to wear one applies.

It is recommended all employees, supervisors and on-site specialists:

  • Minimise car-pooling to and from work, except in limited circumstances.

Each small-scale construction site will:

  • Reduce the number of people on-site to five people plus a supervisor at any one time.
  • Limit movement of workers between different sites. Specialist contractors or supervisors who need to move between sites may only visit three sites per week. All workers moving between multiple sites must wear a face mask (indoors and outdoors), check-in using the Service Vic app, and observe hygiene measures.
  • Supervisors moving between sites should adhere to enhanced COVIDSafe practices.

Each large-scale construction site will:

  • be limited to a daily maximum of workers on site calculated as the higher of 25 per cent of their baseline workforce, or five workers.

All workers count towards the applicable daily worker limit with the exception of workers specifically required to meet the minimum statutory obligations or requirements. 

New South Wales

As of the 27 August 2021, work is permitted at construction sites in:

  • Greater Sydney (including local government areas of concern)
  • Regional and rural NSW

Work is permitted at constructions sites in the local government areas of concern provided occupiers of these construction sites:

  • Comply with the capacity limits for construction sites (1 person per 4 square metres of space at the construction site or 50 per cent of the maximum daily workforce)
  • Construction workers from eight affected LGAs can return to unoccupied sites, at 50 per cent capacity, but only if they meet COVID-19 vaccination requirements 

The eight affected LGAs include Blacktown, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool and Parramatta. 

Construction workers from affected LGAs must provide evidence that they have received one of the following: 

  • Two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • One dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least three weeks before attending work
  • One dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and, if less than three weeks since that vaccine was administered, a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 72 hours
  • NSW is currently trialling rapid antigen testing and when approved by NSW Health, that form of testing may be used as an alternative to a negative PCR test

The maximum daily workforce is the maximum number of workers on site on any day from the start to the end of the project. The maximum daily workforce must be derived from the current resourcing plan for the construction site. 

The NSW Government has updated the COVID-19 Safety Plan as of the 29 August 2021 for construction sites in the Greater Sydney Area, to include a section on record keeping:

Employers must maintain records on their staff, including but not limited to:

  • Records of other sites visited
  • Place of residence to determine whether staff are required to undertake COVID-19 testing and / or be vaccinated against COVID-19 
  • COVID-19 testing results
  • Vaccination status

Queensland

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has announced that proof of vaccination is a condition of entry for NSW construction workers, and only those who have had at least one vaccine dose will be able to enter Queensland from NSW from 21 August 2021.

Queensland Chief Health Officer, Jeannette Young, said police will be checking vaccination records at NSW road border checkpoints.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, the Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, and the Plumbing Trades Employees Union released a joint statement saying they strongly support the health advice and COVID-safe work sites, but are concerned that the Queensland Government may be considering “no jab, no job” laws.

The unions said they already have robust COVID-19 safety policies for work sites, such as staggered start, finish and break times, social distancing, cleaning and hygiene practices, mandatory face masks and testing.

Australian Capital Territory

Following the extension of the ACT lockdown to Friday 17 September, there will be a staged reopening of the construction sector under stringent COVID safe requirements from Friday 3 September 2021.

The current restrictions on Canberra construction are:

  • During lockdown only essential services, including urgent repair and maintenance services, for example plumbing, electrical and heating repair, can occur
  • All other construction projects, including residential developments, home renovations and non-urgent home maintenance services (such as gardening or painting) are expected to stop during the lockdown
  • A very limited number of ACT Government projects relating to the ACT Government’s COVID-19 response may continue, subject to restrictions
  • Construction sites must be made safe and secure during the lockdown. This means activities may need to continue over the next 24 hours
  • Only works necessary to shut-down and make a site safe should occur in this period
  • This may include, for example, works to ensure emergency access to property is possible or concrete stressing works following concrete poured immediately prior to the lock-down
  • It is acknowledged that minimal site attendance will be required during the lockdown to ensure the closed site remains safe and secure
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