To: CCF Victoria staff, members and stakeholders.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update – From the CEO Desk.

Good morning.

It’s been a busy 48 hours and many of you will have heard and read media reports on the State Government’s plans for an “easing” of current business / industry restrictions as the sunset under stage 4 draws closer (11.59pm, Sunday 13 September).  These plans will be released by the State Government on Sunday, 6 September.

Ahead of Sunday, the government is already consulting with industry, unions and community in developing Victoria’s roadmap to “COVID Normal”. We must recognise and compliment the government on their leadership and collaborative approach where they have committed to tailoring guidance to different industries as part of the roadmap, recognising there is “no one size fits all solution”. 

The key principles for industry will include:

  1. Ensuring physical distancing, including following density requirements, making sure staff work from home wherever possible, limiting the total number of staff and customers in an enclosed area, and stopping carpooling;
  2. Wearing a face covering at all times in the workplace and ensuring full PPE is worn in high-risk settings;
  3. Requiring hygienic workplaces, with high-touch points regularly cleaned, staff regularly washing their hands, and hand sanitisers available for all staff and customers; and
  4. Continuing to act quickly if staff become unwell by having a strict policy that supports them to stay home and get tested, even if they have mild symptoms, with immediate notification of confirmed case and records kept all staff, customers and visitors.
  5. Avoid interactions in enclosed spaces wherever possible and move activities outside or to well ventilated areas
  6. Create workforce ‘bubbles’ by limiting the number of workers that have prolonged contact with each other

Building & Construction Industry Working Group

As a Building and Construction Industry, our submission to the Premier last week on a “3 stage plan” to return the industry and relevant sectors to full capacity (under stage 3 restrictions) lays a solid foundation for our work ahead over the next 72 hour period. We have met as a group and I have engaged in a number of Government briefing sessions providing details of the “mapping exercise” that will be conducted in collaboration between industry and the Government against the above key principles.

A series of smaller working groups will now convene and review our current industry activities under relevant sub-sectors (ie: early stage works, small scale development & large scale development) with “traffic light” restrictions developed under the following categorisations:

  1. Closed
  2. Heavily restricted
  3. Restricted
  4. “Open” with a CovidSafe Plan

Templates will then be developed against each of the sub-sectors, including ancillary supply chain issues and regional / geographic nuances, and then submitted to Government and the Chief Health Officer for due consideration and approval.

What is clear from the engagement and discussions with Government during this industry engagement period is that:

  • our submission and “voice to government” is being heard;
  • there is a genuine effort and intention to collaborate with industry;
  • we are not “starting from scratch” with the Building & Construction industry taking pro-active measures, such as our various plans / submissions and the release of COVID safety guidelines (now version 7), to mitigate spread of C-19 amongst worksites and the broader community;  
  • the quality of this work has enabled Government to obtain and receive “quality advice”;
  • with the easing for stage 4 restrictions, a “cautious approach” will be adopted (it will not be a “free for all” and will be restricted);
  • there will be greater recognition of “low risk” works such as earthmoving and at practical completion (this is a major acknowledgement for the civil industry);
  • the will lead to a new a “covid norm” environment until a vaccine is developed;
  • the “road map out” will take longer that the road that led us here!

While not compromising the risk to health, we will start to see a re-opening up of the economy but it will be a very cautious, planned and staged approach, based on risk.

A number of restrictions are already being reviewed and amended.  These will progressively be announced on the Business Victoria website and I continue to encourage you to check this website for regular updates.

Number of Covid-19 cases in Victoria

There were 70 new positive cases reported in Victoria yesterday (Monday 1 Sep) and 73 the day before (Sunday 31 Aug). 

This is the first time we have seen “double digit” numbers for quite a while and there have been no cases reported cases in the building and construction industry 17/8. This provides confidence for us as we move into “co-design and collaboration” with Government.

An excellent result but we must “hold course” and ensure we all continue to embrace and enact version 7 of the Building & Construction Industry safety guidelines on worksites. Refer the link below for the latest version of the guidelines.

The Government is “driven by the statistics” and we need to continue to demonstrate our “leadership and self-regulation” in the fight to keep our worksites safe.  A challenge I know as an industry group … we are all up for and play our part.

Until my next update …. keep well – keep safe.

Kind regards

John Kilgour

CEO, CCF Victoria