Construction sites remain areas of concern

Victoria's COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar has warned that Melbourne construction sites continue to be an area of concern for authorities with a third of all new cases linked to worksites.

At the state’s COVID-19 health update on 9 September 2021, Mr Weimar said there was still “a bit of a theme around construction”.

He said a CBD construction site had recorded a further two cases today taking it to a total of eight active cases over multiple floors of a large office refurbishment.

Mr Weimar said there were now 89 primary close contacts at this point of time, and he expected those numbers to continue to rise over the next few days.

“Can I please again encourage, particularly those working on construction sites - and we mentioned this a few days ago – it continues to be areas of significant concern,” Mr Weimar said.

“With the levels of community transmission we are now seeing across many of our suburbs, it is so important that we have outstanding controls in place at every single worksite that is still operating.

“Without that what will see is transmission.

“We have been fortunate so far in this outbreak that we haven’t seen widespread transmission at essential worksites.

“We really need to ensure we don’t get into that territory in the days and weeks ahead.”

MBV advocacy update

On Thursday 9 September 2021, MBV and others, met again with the Acting Chief Health Officer (CHO).

The Acting CHO expressed concern about the growing occupational transmission of COVID-19 in our industry, with mid-tier and smaller construction sites of particular concern.

Given that our industry is drawing on essential workers, it is to be expected that some cases will emerge.

However, recent WorkSafe/Police/VBA inspections have highlighted that – at some sites – there are weak or non-existent COVIDSafe plans and limited use of QR codes. Mask compliance also continues to be a recurring theme.

The Acting CHO also advised that there was evidence that some workers in our industry are interacting outside of their worksite bubbles, this includes:

  • Congregating in close proximity in tea rooms/cafes/crib rooms etc.
  • Visiting relatives when outside of work.

The message from the Acting CHO was not to congregate in common areas, eat and drink outside where possible, and always with the appropriate physical distancing.

Another area highlighted by the Acting CHO was the importance of meeting remotely where possible and only interacting in person where absolutely essential, and then only outside where possible.

We understand that some Government Departments are insisting that members meet with them in-person to discuss jobs.

The Acting CHO’s message is very clear to not do this, so please be mindful of this aspect when responding to such requests to meet in-person.

Many people in our industry currently get to go to work where many others can’t. It’s therefore vital that, for our industry to remain open, everyone must follow the rules and operate in a COVIDSafe way.

Our COVID-19 resources can be found by clicking here.

We need everyone to do the right thing

Our sector must take its responsibilities very seriously.

As part of this acknowledgement of our COVIDSafe practices, we MUST CONTINUE to implement EVERY MEASURE in our industry COVID-19 GUIDELINES.

To that end, Master Builders Victoria (MBV) has continued to work with other industry associations and unions to endorse further measures that were incorporated into the next revision of the Guidelines.

Effective immediately

1. ALWAYS enforce the wearing of face masks, including travelling to and from work and on public transport. Wearing masks is the most important measure available (unless workers are exempted or have a valid medical reason).

2. NO carpooling to work.

3. MINIMISE workers leaving site for any reason once they are logged in – this includes for smoke and lunch breaks. Encourage workers to bring meals from home. If not possible, send a limited number of workers to collect lunches.

4. MANDATORY temperature testing on all large-scale projects.

5. APPOINT COVID marshals on all large-scale projects and give them the authority to enforce these rules.

6. Consider getting VACCINATED yourself now and promote it to your workforce.

7. Encourage your workers to get VACCINATED, especially while many of them may not be permitted to work or are not in the 25 per cent or five worker crews.

Group bookings for vaccinations of workers

Several members have asked about the opportunity for Group Bookings for vaccinations of workers.

Please click here for more details of the Victorian Government's group booking scheme.

Please note that this is a queue arrangement, so if this can work for your site and workers, please book ASAP.

In the meantime, MBV is working with the Victorian Government on how workers in our industry can get priority access to vaccinations