To: CCF Victoria staff, members and stakeholders.

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

Good morning.

We have continued to engage this week and receive updates from the State Government through our representation on the Building & Construction Industry Working Group.  I am sure we are all waiting for the Premier’s anticipated announcement on the further easing of restrictions, with a specific focus on getting us back to full scale operations, albeit under COVIDNorm conditions.  

Number of Covid-19 cases in Victoria

It is pleasing to see the containment of “positive cases” being reported with 3 new cases, with no lives lost over the last 24 hour period.   At his recent media conference, the Premier noted that Monday’s positive case was revised downwards to a single case, with that case itself under review. The Premier also reported that on review, this may be our first zero positive day since 9 June.  The Premier also gave a strong indication that a more widespread easing of restrictions would be announced this weekend, on the back of a continued fall in the average number of new cases. Alas however, there would be no change to restrictions before the weekend’s AFL grand final and we have seen a “walking back” of the decision to allow horse owners to attend the Cox Plate on Saturday following community condemnation.   Since last Thursday, we have had only 12 new positive cases in total in Victoria.   This brings the 14 day rolling average down to 6.2.

Easing of Second Step Restrictions (Roadmap)  

On Sunday, the State Government announced an easing of “Second Step” restrictions effective 11.59pm 18 October. As reported in my CEO update (Addendum) on Monday, these were essentially a range of personal and community matters, which are summarised for both Metro Melbourne and Regional Victoria at the following location.

Included in this information is the ability for contractors in the Building & Construction industry to perform non-essential home maintenance and repairs including painting at occupied premises (with a COVIDSafe Plan). This is allowable only for outside works, consistent with a COVIDSafe Plan that provides proper separation of works and amenities for the contractors. It is reported that …. “in Metropolitan Melbourne, these changes will see thousands more Victorians get back to work – particularly those who work outside. That includes tradespeople undertaking outdoor maintenance and repair work . . . . .”

Restrictions still continue to apply for Early Stage Construction Works and I refer you to the series of Roadmaps on the Business Victoria website covering Large Scale, Small Scale & Early Stage Developments.  

Building & Construction Industry Guidelines (version 8)

Further to my update 18 October, a new version (revision 8) of the Building & Construction Industry Guidelines has been released and I refer you to these new guidelines, and the explanatory note accompanying the release, which are available for your reference and use on the CCF Victoria website.

Industry Guidelines Rev 8 Final 16th October 2020

Explanatory Note for V8 16th October 2020

WorkSafe Enforcement – COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) & Other Acts Amendment Bill 2020

The State Government recently tabled and passed through Parliament the above amendments that provides the regulator, WorkSafe, greater powers relating to COVID-19 compliance and enforcement under to the Occupational Health and Safety Act Vic 2004 (Vic).

As it stands, all Victorians are required to abide by public health orders issued pursuant to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic). The directions provided in the public health orders have been issued to contain COVID-19 infection in the Victorian community.  I have previously advised CCF members, that the failure to abide by these directions, including the failure to implement and abide by COVIDSafe Plans on Building & Construction worksites and broader business operations, is an offence and can lead to criminal prosecution.

We note that for a WorkSafe Inspector to issue a Prohibition Notice under section 112 of the OHS Act, the Inspector must form a reasonable belief that there is:

  1. an activity is occurring at a workplace that involves or will involve an immediate risk to the health or safety of a person; or
  2. an activity may occur at a workplace that, if it occurs, will involve an immediate risk to the health or safety of a person;

The inspector may issue to a person who has or appears to have control over the activity a prohibition notice prohibiting the carrying on of the activity, or the carrying on of the activity in a specified way, until an inspector has certified in writing that the matters that give or will give rise to the risk have been remedied.

As reported in my last CEO update, I attended a presentation from WorkSafe representatives, who reported their findings into worksite inspections (1 February 2020 – 14 October 2020) and their subsequent focus for enforcement of this COVID-19 Omnibus Bill.

With over 2,250 inspections undertaken (17.3% in civil) during this period, a total of 116 Improvement notices and 1 Prohibition notice were issued under COVID-19, with 16 Contraventions remedied at the time of the inspection .  WorkSafe advised that in relation to the COVID Notices issued under Sections 21(1) and 21(2)(a), for safe systems of work, the key themes of non-compliance identified and reported above, have been in the following areas:

  1. No High Risk CovidSafe plan;
  2. Screening of employees and visitors;
  3. Access to and use of  face masks and sanitiser;
  4. Amenity areas (ie. lunch room) distancing and cleaning requirements;

It is pleasing to report that within the civil construction sector, that of the 390 inspections (17.3%) covering Site Preparation Services, only 2 COVID-19 notices were issued. This is an excellent result and I want to congratulate all civil contractors for ensuring compliance to the Directions and the Guidelines issued and playing our part to keep construction worksites “safe and open.”

In acknowledging this excellent result, I want to re-inforce to all, that WorkSafe inspectors have enforcement powers against employers/contractors in respect to breaches of the Workplace Directions, including for example if workers are not wearing a face mask on site, or are not observing physical distancing rules in or outside of the worksite.  We cannot be complacent. I refer you to the recently released updated safety alert titled ‘Fitted face masks must be worn in the construction industry’.

2020 CCF Victoria Annual Report

Following our Land Development Sector Breakfast Bites on 8 October 2020, we conducted our CCF Victoria Annual General Meeting, where I had the pleasure to release our 2020 Annual Report. 

While a link to the report was featured in our recent CCF Connect enewsletter, I would like to circulate this link further to key stakeholders, members and staff, just in case you have missed the Report.

I stated in my CEO report, that during a professional career spanning over 40 years, I have never experienced a more challenging time. The global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is not only impacting on the way we live, but it is changing the way we work and will continue to work for years to come. Our advocacy work has never been more important in the history of the CCF. Strong and visible leadership is critical, if we are to emerge from this COVID-19 pandemic with a sustainable industry ready to play a vital role in leading the state’s social and economic recovery.

It is a privilege to lead CCF Victoria and represent our CCF members.  This report provides an excellent insight into our work and performance over the last 12 month period and I trust you take the time to read it. 

For those of you who are interested in supporting CCF in continuing to do the important work on behalf of the civil construction industry through CCF membership, please do not hesitate to make an enquiry on the benefits of membership by calling the CCF team on 1300 DIAL CCF.  You can also find out more details, or lodge an application, on our CCF Victoria website.   

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

Kind regards

John Kilgour

CEO, CCF Victoria