Further to my CEO Update last Friday, 10 July, I covered the introduction of Stage 3 restrictions by the State Government in the Melbourne Metro, Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire areas. In particular, the recommended use of Face Masks. 

There were 270 new positive cases reported in Victoria on Monday 13 July, up from 177 the day before.  Two more positive cases were reported in our industry on Tuesday 14 July.  Since the beginning of last week, we have had 20 reported new cases in our industry and 12 since my last report to you on Friday – a clear indication that the expected community transmission is affecting us.  As an industry, we are alarmed at the increasing number of cases and have taken pro-active measures in line with the Government announcement to mitigate the risk of the virus spread on construction worksites.

The following is a summary of actions undertaken and announcements made by the State Government impacting on businesses in the civil construction industry.

CCF Victoria – HSEQ Officer secondment (Building & Construction Industry Working Group)

In direct response to these increasing number of cases, CCF Victoria has made available our HSEQ Officer, Trevor Derham, for the next 6 week period on an “as needs” basis, to assist the Building & Construction Industry Working Group in contact mapping of positive cases reported in civil construction.

Trevor will assist in identifying the close and casual contacts of the rapidly increasing number of positive cases, which currently stands at 34 (5 in civil). This is a two-step process whereby Health and Safety Representatives and/or Safety Officers will identify potential workers, who will then be contacted by a small group of trained personnel to provide initial advice in accordance with our Industry Guidelines. In the first instance, the CBUSS coordinator’s will provide this advice with reference to the Industry Liaison Officer. It should be noted that this does not replace the DHHS contact tracing, which will occur as a matter of course.

We envisage this additional support will greatly assist in containing the spread of the virus on building & construction worksites and is indeed and appropriate, positive and pro-active response by your industry body representing the civil industry. 

New Version 5 release – Building & Construction Guidelines

Given the increase in COVID-19 cases on sites and the escalation of community transmission, as a working group we have jointly determined further measures to protect lives, save jobs and businesses.

The Industry Working Group is responsible for the COVID-19 Guidelines for the Building and Construction Industry in Victoria.  The working group have determined, in regard to the advice of DHHS, that additional measures of wearing face masks and undertaking temperature testing are clearly measures that can add to significantly reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 on sites. For these reasons, in the best interests of workers and the industry, these additional measures are considered essential.

Face Masks: The Chief Health Officer and the DHHS has now recommended that adults in the Melbourne metropolitan area and the Mitchell Shire wear a face mask when outside of their home, if it is difficult to keep 1.5 meters apart from other people.   For building and construction sites the practicality of this new advice is simple. Use masks:

  • When travelling to and from work where you cannot physically distance and on public transport;
  • Whenever travelling in a hoist or lift;
  • In a confined space. Any uncertainty should be clarified with a health and safety representative;
  • Travelling in a vehicle with other people When operating an item of plant with another person.

The term face mask includes both cloth masks and single use face masks (commonly known as surgical masks). Both masks are suitable for use to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID -19). N95/ P2 masks, must be compliant with Australian Standard 1716.

Temperature Testing:  The best protection from COVID-19 is to keep it off building and constructions sites. All sites are to undertake a risk assessment to determine if temperature screening is a reasonably practical/suitable control for the site.  

Please refer to the Protocols for Temperature Screening in the Building and Construction Industry attached to version 5 of the guidelines.  This measure will be reviewed at the end of the period of the current State Lockdown period. Any difficulties in supply of equipment should be referred to the Industry Liaison Officer, Michael Paynter, who can be contacted on the VBA Hotline. Phone: 1300 815 127

New Version 5 Guidelines:  Please find attached version 5 of the COVID -19 Guidelines on construction worksites together with an explanatory note of the major changes.

Key amendments to version 4 are:

  • in the Preamble and Context;
  • Section 3.1.7 dealing with temp testing; 
  • 3.7 (amended dot point re masks);
  • 3.8.1 addition of provision re masks; and 
  • new attachment “How do I wear a mask correctly”

These amendments were endorsed by the Industry Working Group at its meeting on Tuesday, 14 July 2020. A copy of the new version 5. COVID -19 Guidelines, together with an explanatory note is attached for your reference and available via the CCF website.

MEDIA RELEASE:  Building & Construction Industry – 15 July 2020. Employer Groups and Unions have taken the immediate action in restricting the spread of COVID-19 on construction sites.  I refer you to the Media Release circulated this morning is in support of the new version 5 guidelines and the positive steps being undertaken by the Building and Construction Industry to keep our worksites safe. An CCF news article of the Media Release is available click here to read more.

More Government Support Packages Announced for Small Business

Last Friday, 10 July 2020, the State Government announced a further a $534m Business Support Package – the latest support measures on top of the $6 billion in economic relief already invested since the pandemic began.

The latest measures include cash grants for struggling businesses, mental health support for business owners, relief for tourism operators who can no longer welcome Melbourne-based visitors for holidays, and tailored and targeted advice for businesses to adapt, stay afloat and then bounce back on the other side.

A summary of the support packages includes:

  • $5k Grant – entity needs to be registered with Worksafe, participating in Job Keeper and have payroll of less than $3m;
  • Regional Tourism Support – entity needs to be in the business of providing accommodation services in regional Victoria;
  • CBD Support Fund – entity needs to be operating in the CBD (more details to be announced), and
  • Night Time Economy Support Program – More details to be announced.

I refer you to the following link for further details: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/grants-and-assistance/business-support-package

Correspondence from the State Government & MTIA. 

Please find a copy of correspondence forwarded to all contractors this month by the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop, Minister for the Coordination of Transport – COVID-19, the Hon Jacinta Allan and Director General – Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA), Corey Hannett.

To view the letter please click here.

I referred to this correspondence in my CEO Update last week circulated to all CCF members and stakeholders.  Importantly, this correspondence acknowledges and re-inforces the important role being played by our industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and in leading the social and economic recovery.  I encourage you to use this document in recognising our industry as an “essential service” if workers are being challenged by authorities when travelling in and out of Stage 3 restricted areas.  It can be used in conjunction with our CCF member letter / template that we placed for your use on the member portal only on the CCF website under Member Resources>Human Resources.

The future is in “our hands”

I encourage you all to remain vigilant and do “our part” by adhering to the latest version (version 5) of Building & Construction Industry COVID-19 Guidelines.  With the potential for the introduction of further COVID-19 restrictions in our community by the State Government, we need to actively demonstrate strong leadership in all that we do to ensure we keep construction worksites “open for business.” The future is in our hands through the actions we take.

Until my next update ….

Kind regards

John Kilgour

CEO, CCF Victoria