6.00pm – Friday, 26 March 2021
To: CCF Victoria staff, members and industry stakeholders.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update – From the CEO desk.
Update on Electronic Workplace Mapping and Compatibility
Further to my recent update, many employers and their IT consultants have raised concerns about the Victorian Government’s requirement for electronic contact tracing systems to be compatible with the Government’s QR Code Service by 27 March.
I have been advised late today that we have received confirmation from the government, that the Building and Construction (B&C) industry has been included with those that have been given a 28 day amnesty for its electronic contact tracing systems to be compliant with its QR Code service.
Update on Positive Cases & Restrictions
There have been no positive cases recorded in Victoria for 28 days now and we are officially COVID-19 free again.
The Victorian government has announced that the Hotel Quarantine program for international visitors will resume on 8 April with the recommencement of arrivals to our airports. We are informed that significant capital works have been done to improve ventilation systems in the nominated hotels, with the objective of preventing airborne transmission of the ‘variants of concern’ virus.
This week it has been one year since our industry leaders got together to discuss the threat of coronavirus and developed a new set of guidelines to minimise the health risk to our workforce and to keep the industry working. Only a few days later, the first positive case was recorded at a major Melbourne project – this identified a need for liaison between the Health Department and the industry and led to the B&C Industry Liaison role, with Michael Paynter appointed.
We have not had a single positive case in the B&C industry since 23 September 2020 – now over 6 months ago – having been spared during the more recent regional, suburban and hotel quarantine outbreaks since then. We believe that this result can be put down to substantive compliance with the successive versions of the Industry COVID-19 Guidelines and the willingness of the workforce to understand and follow them. A link to the latest version (revision 11) of the guidelines is available via the attached link.
We’ve managed to keep the industry working at or near full capacity for much of this time when other industries have been shut down or severely restricted. So very well done to all.
With the rollout of the vaccine underway, attention is turning to the question whether it will be compulsory to have had the vaccine to attend work.
Our B&C Liaison Officer attended a forum on this question last week and with acknowledgement of the organiser, forwarded some initial thoughts, ie:
- The Federal Government is responsible for purchasing the vaccine and is making it available for free and voluntary use;
- State OH&S legislation does not deal directly with the issue of vaccinations, but as we know employers must, so far as is reasonably practical, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health;
- On the basis that COVID-19 is a risk to health and safety, employers should assess the risk and implement control measures to satisfy the duty of care;
- The Fair Work Ombudsman says in the current circumstances, the overwhelming majority of employers should assume that they won’t be able to require their employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus;
- There may be particular circumstances where it might be reasonable to mandate vaccination, such as in aged care or medical facilities (note, flu vaccination is currently mandated in many of these facilities);
No doubt this question will be canvassed further as we get closer to rollout for the majority of our workforce in the 2A Group – commencing late April/early May.
Until my next update …. keep well – keep safe.