Master Builders Victoria (MBV) has welcomed the re-opening of the building and construction industry from next Tuesday (5 October 2021).

MBV CEO Rebecca Casson said the past two-week shutdown had been extremely challenging for many of MBV’s members unable to work but most can now look forward to getting back on the tools next week.

MBV, together with other industry associations and unions, worked together over the long weekend to develop a collaborative re-opening plan.  This same group participated in a briefing with the Victorian Government last night where it was outlined how the resumption of work would operate.

“It was a very positive meeting with excellent engagement from the Victorian Government and it appears that, despite yesterday's high COVID-19 case numbers, our sector is on track to re-open on 5 October which is a win for our industry,” Ms Casson said.

“Over the last week or so, we have had excellent engagement with the Victorian Government, including Treasurer Tim Pallas, Minister Jacinta Allan, and Minister Martin Pakula. 

“They, like us, have had a sharp focus on re-opening our industry and getting our members back to work. 

“Our industry is made up of more than 320,000 dedicated professionals who take the responsibility of building, constructing, and developing Victoria very seriously. They know that our industry provides 46 per cent of Victoria’s tax revenue, and when our sector is shut down, $64 million a day is lost in wages. 

“These are the same committed professionals who are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated. They are getting vaccinated so they can return to work, and they are also doing it to protect their families, friends, and fellow Victorians.”

However, Ms Casson said MBV was aware that not everyone in the industry is permitted to restart work next week and this shutdown continues to cause pain for MBV's renovation members still unable to work inside occupied premises.

“MBV cares deeply about all of our members. Whether they are a home builder or a commercial builder, small-scale or large-scale, tradesperson, supplier, specialist contractor, based in regional Victoria or metropolitan Melbourne – and we care about their clients too,” she said.

“Many kitchen and bathroom renovations are stalled and, at this rate, won’t be completed in time for Christmas.  MBV will continue to advocate to the Victorian Government until all our members are back at work and all COVID-19 restrictions are removed.”

During the briefing, the Victorian Government also confirmed that COVID-19 compliance enforcement will continue to be a key factor in supporting the building and construction industry’s re-opening.

“We call on everyone in the building and construction industry to continue to do the right thing.  And, where individual sites may be found to be non-compliant, they must be held to account and they must be individually shut down – not our whole industry,” Ms Casson said.

Under the Victorian Government’s proposed Construction Sector Roadmap, a new attestation process for construction site operators at all sites will support enforcement of the Chief Health Officer’s Directions, including mandatory vaccinations for workers.  

In addition to this:

  1. All workers will be required to carry a duly signed Authorised Worker Permit.
  2. Meal and other breaks where practicable, safe, and hygienic should be taken outside however, crib facilities may be used for the consumption of food and drink.

(a) In compliance with the COVID-19 ‘Mandatory minimum requirements and best practice approaches for safe worker amenities on construction sites’ including density quotient 1 person per 4 sqm; and

(b) With additional ventilation (entire air volume of the room replaced or filtered every 10 to 12 minutes).

Workforce caps will apply:

  1. Small scale construction: Up to five workers and a supervisor.
  2. Large scale construction: 25 per cent of workers or 50 per cent of workers if crib rooms meet best practice guidelines and all workers are fully
  3. State Critical Infrastructure Projects: 100 per cent of workers if crib rooms meet best practice guidelines.
  4. Early-stage land development: Up to 20 workers per hectare if crib rooms meet best practice guidelines.
  5. It’s recommended that building fit outs re-commence when 70 per cent of Victorians over 16 years are fully vaccinated.

In a win for the home building sector, site supervisors or safety officers can also now be designated as COVID Marshals and can cover multiple small scale construction sites.

MBV is also pleased to see that fully vaccinated workers, and those with a medical exemption, can move between metro and regional areas to work on small scale construction sites and early development sites. 

Single dose vaccinated workers can move between metro and regional areas to work on State Critical projects and large-scale construction sites, but they must undertake surveillance testing twice per week with 72 hours between tests until they are fully vaccinated.  However, unless they are symptomatic, they can still attend worksites while awaiting test results.

Ahead of October 5, single dose vaccinated workers can attend worksites to:

  • Prepare crib facilities to comply with new requirements.
  • Receipt deliveries required to commence work on 5 October.
  • Be re-inducted to site on new systems/requirements for 5 October.