The Victorian construction sector has reopened, following the release of the Government’s Construction Sector Roadmap, which details the steps to reopening the construction industry in line with public health recommendations.
Restrictions on the Victorian construction industry eased at 11:59pm on Monday, 4 October. In order to work onsite, all workers need to carry an Authorised Worker Permit and to have had at least one vaccine dose.
Every construction site in Victoria must also have a designated fully trained COVID Marshal to ensure compliance with the Chief Health Officer‘s (CHO) directions.
Prior to reopening, operators were required to attest that they have implemented the CHO directions and every site had to implement an up to date vaccination register available for compliance checks at all times.
An online portal will soon be available on the Service Victoria website so these documents are accessible for both the operator and compliance teams.
Crib facilities may be used for the consumption of food and drink with strict density requirements and additional ventilation.
Up to five workers and a supervisor can work onsite for small scale construction projects, and large scale sites can have up to 25 per cent of workers onsite. If crib rooms meet best practice and the entire workforce is fully vaccinated, large scale construction sites can have up to 50 per cent of workers onsite.
Projects on the State Critical Infrastructure list will operate at 100 per cent as long as crib rooms follow best practice guidelines.
Subject to continued high levels of compliance by the industry, workforce caps will progressively increase. Once the 70 per cent double dose milestone has been reached, large scale construction can return to 100 per cent of its workforce.
Caps will be removed when Victoria reaches its 80 per cent target, and in addition, all onsite workers must be fully vaccinated by 13 November.
Fully vaccinated workers can travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria in order to work onsite.
Workers on state critical projects or large scale construction can also travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria if they have had a single dose, take an initial test before their first travel, then test twice per week until fully vaccinated.
To allow all sites to remobilise, workers who have had at least one vaccination dose will be able to enter a site prior to 5 October in order to undertake crib facility improvements, participate in a reinduction or receive deliveries.
As part of the re-opening, the construction industry is expected to comply with directions in full.
Teams of Authorised Workers will conduct checks to enforce directions, and penalties will be in place for builders and site operators that do not comply – including site shutdowns for significant or repeated breaches.
The Level Crossing Removal Project resumed construction on Tuesday 5 October, and has outlined the steps that will be taken to ensure a COVIDSafe worksite.
Strict processes were in place to check and record the vaccination status of workers entering construction sites.
Ventilation plans have been put in place for indoor rest areas to ensure worksites are complying with new construction public health orders, requiring the entire air volume of crib/meal rooms to be replaced or filtered five to six times an hour, or around every ten to 12 minutes.
Level crossing projects will also include new physical distancing markers, better ventilation in site sheds and the presence of COVID-19 safety marshals.
The Level Crossing Removal Project is currently resequencing its construction schedule to determine new end dates for major construction blitzes on the Williamstown, Lilydale and Frankston lines.
Victoria Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations, Tim Pallas, said, “We’ve worked really hard with the industry to ensure they can reopen safely – but the message is clear: we won’t tolerate it operating in a way that puts the rest of our community at risk.”
Victoria Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, said, “A massive effort has gone into getting the 18,000 strong Big Build workforce vaccinated and project sites ready to return to work in compliance with new construction public health orders.
“This is a challenging time for Victoria, and we are focused on keeping our sites safe – to slow the spread of coronavirus, and continuing to build big for Victoria.”
The re-opening follows violent anti-vaccine mandate protests, which caused the two-week shutdown of the construction industry.