To: CCF Victoria staff, members and stakeholders.

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

Good evening.

Further to my CEO update and addendum note late Friday, 7 August, 2020, over the last 72 hours the State Government has made some further clarifications to Stage 4 restrictions for the Building & Construction Industry under the published Construction Sector Guidance. 

While this will not satisfy all civil contractors within our various sectors, some of these are less restrictive than what we originally thought. I do not plan to go through the Construction Sector Guidance in detail, as they were well reported in my previous CEO updates on Friday and available for your reference via the Home Page and News section of this website.

There have been further updates published over the weekend and we have asked for clarification on a number of issues, including the classification of projects under “essential and critical services” in order to make it feasible for our members to continue work.  The following Q&A responses on the Business Victoria website, provide further clarity regarding “Permitted Work Premises” and Business Operating Reductions in Construction.

What are the rules for civil construction?

All civil works and all building and construction activities (whether publicly or privately funded) are subject to the large scale, small scale and early stage residential land development project tests and restrictions, unless those activities:

  • constitute construction of critical and essential infrastructure (see above); or
  • constitute critical repairs to any premises where required for emergency and safety (as provided for by the Stage 4 Restrictions “Permitted Work Premises” published on the DHHS website.

# this DHHS website is a key link for you. It provides you relevant information about permitted work sites operating under Victoria’s stage 4 restrictions.

Are the restrictions on construction the same in regional Victoria as they are in metropolitan Melbourne?

No. These further restrictions apply to all works in metropolitan areas under Stage 4 restrictions.

What about architects, surveyors, auditors, building inspectors and engineers?

Workers that provide architecture, engineering, surveying, building inspection or compliance services or statutory functions must work from home where possible.  Where these workers are required to attend sites for inspection and safety purposes, they are counted as workers. Workers in this category who need to move between sites should visit no more than three times a week, except where those visits are required to meet a minimum

“High Risk” COVID-19 Safety Plan template

We have fielded many calls from CCF members seeking to develop a “High Risk” COVID-19 Safety Plan.  I am pleased to advise that over the weekend, High Risk COVIDSafe Plan templates, including a specific one for construction, was released as an attachment to the generic COVIDSafe plan. Please refer the link below for this template.

Essential & Critical Projects

The rules associated with critical and essential infrastructure, which is not subject to business operating reductions are now defined into 4 distinct categories, ie:

  1. construction or maintenance (including civil works and building activities) of critical and essential infrastructure that is urgently required for the purposes of sustaining human health, safety and wellbeing, regardless of whether those activities are privately or publicly funded; 
  2. activities prescribed by government from time to time as “State Critical Infrastructure Projects”; 
  3. construction and maintenance for the purposes of national security and defence; and
  4. activities that are deemed by Government to have satisfied the test in (a) and endorsed by the Chief Health Officer on a case by case basis.

We expect that very few activities will meet the above tests and project proponents can contact for the determination by the Chief Health Officer.

We have been seeking clarification on the list of State Critical Infrastructure Projects and this has now been reported.  All you need to scroll down to the bottom of the page on the attached link and expand out the relevant section.  For ease of reference, the activities and projects listed below are deemed by the Victorian Government to be ‘State Critical Infrastructure Projects’ for the purposes of Clause 7(15)(b)(ii) of the Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions made by the Chief Health Officer on 8 August 2020 (or any replacement Directions).

  • Critical maintenance and safety works to public infrastructure
  • Cladding Rectification Program
  • Early childhood learning, school and TAFE capital projects to meet time-sensitive enrolment demands
  • Victorian School Asbestos Safety Program
  • ICU Capacity Upgrade Works and health services maintenance work
  • Recommissioning works – Old Peter Mac hospital
  • Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital – new theatres
  • Northern Hospital Tower – Epping
  • Sunshine Hospital Emergency Dept – Sunshine
  • St George’s Aged Care
  • Orygen Youth Mental Health
  • Critical Ambulance Station works
  • Victorian Heart Hospital
  • Essential public housing infrastructure
  • VIFM mortuary capacity and security works
  • Melbourne Remand Centre capacity works
  • Port Phillip Prison capacity works
  • Specialist Family Violence Courts infrastructure
  • VCAT Community Based Venues – Bundoora and Frankston
  • Dandenong Drug Court
  • New Victoria Police Centre
  • Melbourne Protective Security Enhancement
  • Youth Justice Redevelopment project at Cherry Creek
  • All road, public transport and telecommunications infrastructure safety and maintenance works
  • Road safety projects to maintain critical safe operations on the road network
  • Rolling Stock Maintenance & Manufacturing
  • Level Crossing Removal Project works – Hurstbridge, Frankston, Pakenham, Cranbourne, Werribee, Upfield, Craigieburn, Lilydale and Ballarat lines
  • Road Projects – M80 Ring Road Upgrade, Plenty Road, Mordialloc Freeway and Western Roads Upgrade
  • Monash Freeway Upgrade
  • Metro Tunnel Project and associated works
  • West Gate Tunnel works
  • Upper Yarra Dam upgrade and critical safety maintenance works

I have sought further clarity from the Building & Construction Industry Working Group and the Deputy Secretary – Delivery and Recovery (COVID-19)

Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, over the weekend on what process is happening at a local government and water authority level and how critical projects are being assessed and defined.  I will advise you of the subsequent response but you should assume that these projects will be subject to the Stage 4 restrictions in place for large scale, small scale and early stage residential land development sites (ie: follow density restrictions of no > 10 workers per hectare)

Questions & Answers

A number of questions have been tabled through the Building & Construction Working Group, which will continually be addressed and updated via the Q&A’s on the Business Victoria website.   Those dealt with and currently being prepared for release are:  

  • 2 x 25% shifts? No. 50% over the course of the day is not allowed
  • Occupied residences cannot have builders or workers on site under the stay at home orders (except for emergency repairs or for safety purposes)
  • Can owners can attend final inspection/contract signing. Yes. This is already allowed under the stay at home directions.
  • Display homes for clients. No
  • Is apprentice included in the limit of 5 or 25%. Yes
  • Lifts for apprentices. Yes this is allowed under current directions, if in compliance with transport to and from work, ie: an adult can take an essential worker to and from their place of work without a worker permit, if the worker is their dependant and unable to transport themselves. 

At CCF, we appreciate your patience and understanding so that the government can appropriately review and respond to enquiries.  We must all play our part and in the spirit of protecting public health, and take every practicable precaution.  There are also questions and issues still unresolved and we encourage you to let “common sense” be your guide. If a business is making a clear effort to comply with requirements designed to limit the movement of persons on worksites and the spread of COVID-19, unintentional infractions are less likely to be identified with financial penalty.

We also appreciate that this is a difficult and concerning time but I want to share with you my discussion with our CCF Victoria President, Steve Traicevski, over the weekend to place our work in perspective ….  “As the organisation represents a large cross section of members with different scale & expertise, it is difficult to keep all our members totally satisfied with outcomes.  Notwithstanding this and dealing with a once in a lifetime event with limited resources & at the mercy of Government, its advisers & other interest groups, our industry has been able to prevail & get its message across. The outcome for greenfield contractors membership is excellent given the circumstances and not that bad for other members. The flip side that we could have been sitting at home twiddling our thumbs if it wasn’t for the exemplary work of the CCF team.”

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

Kind regards

John Kilgour

CEO, CCF Victoria