Tradespeople and construction businesses who operate on unoccupied premises across Greater Sydney will now be required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan as the sector prepares to open throughout most parts of the city from Saturday onward.
The New South Wales government has announced that subject to specific rules, construction on will be able to reopen throughout Greater Sydney and surrounding areas except for the eight local government areas of Fairfield, Blacktown, Cumberland, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Parramatta and Georges River.
As a compulsory part of reopening, however, construction businesses will need to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan for sites on which they operate throughout Greater Sydney which are not an occupied premises.
For those operating outside such settings, a plan is recommended.
Building and construction businesses are also encouraged to consider registering with the NSW Government as a COVID Safe business. This provides access to resources such as a unique QR code for COVID Safe Check-in (which is required on a range of premises including construction sites), access to the Service NSW Check-in webform for checking in customers who don’t use the QR code and posters for your premises as well as social media badges.
When preparing their plan, businesses will need to outline strategies to implement measures along four areas.
- Measures to ensure the wellbeing of workers and visitors, such as checking symptoms of those entering sites; excluding workers who are unwell from the site; adopting protocols to manage sites where a person becomes unwell; providing training and advice in relation to personal hygiene, updated infection control practices and COVID-19 control requirements; encouraging workers to access vaccinations; nominating one or more COVID marshals (one per 50 workers); and ensuring workers comply with mandatory surveillance COVID-19 testing requirements.
- Measures to facilitate physical distancing, such as on-site or near-site parking provision; restricting inductions to site to the minimum practicable; limiting the number of trades on site at any one time and cappng the number of sites visited by tradies; separating people and teams on site; using contactless deliveries and invoicing; having delivery drivers remain in vehicles if not required to unload; physical distancing for meetings, break periods, meals site sheds etc; creating additional meal facilities in outdoor areas; limiting numbers in indoor areas to one person per four square meters where safe to do so; limiting hoist movements to teams who are working together; monitoring entry and exit points; conducting a risk assessment to identify control measures which are necessary to migrate COVID spread and implementing strategies to avoid crowding and contact.
- Measures to promote hygiene and cleaning, such as ensuring that workers wear face masks; provision of hand sanitisers and wash stations; stocking bathrooms with hand soap and paper towels; cleaning indoor hard surfaces and frequently touched areas; ensuring staff wear PPE when cleaning; cleaning shared tools between use; and having site vehicles cleaned regularly and operated by a single designated operator where practical.
- Keeping of records, such as using the NSW Government QR code system to collect information about workers and visitors who enter the site; ensuring that people provide the correct information; establishing unique NSW Government QR codes for different zones and locations on site where practicable; issuing QR codes electronically to drivers via entry; considering use to tracing cards to track on site contacts between workers, drivers and visitors; maintain staff records including others sites visited, place or residence, mandatory surveillance COVID testing results and age and vaccination states (if workers decline to provide this information, it is sufficient to record that fact); and cooperation with NSW Health if contacts in relation to a positive case at the workplace along with notifying Safe Work NSW.
The release of the new requirements for COVID safety plans comes as the state has announced a reopening of construction sites in Greater Sydney.
Under the plan, construction which takes place outside of the eight LGAs referred to above will be able to reopen on sites which are not occupied – subject to density limits.
Work will also be able to recommence on occupied sites including homes and residential property provided that residents/occupants are able to vacate the area for the duration of the work.
Density limits and other requirements will apply (refer separate article).
However, sites must remain closed within the eight LGAs referred to above.
Announcing the measures, NSW Treasurer Domonic Perrottet said the construction sector is critical to the state’s economy and reopening safely is crucial for keeping hundreds of thousands of people in jobs.
“Getting workers back on the tools as soon as possible has always been our priority, but we need to ensure it is done as safely as possible to protect both workers and the community,” Perrottet said.
“The construction COVID-19 safety plan builds on the COVID safe measures already in place at many worksites, but we’re now applying that consistently right across the sector.
“We have worked with the industry over the past two weeks to get the right outcome and I would like to thank the sector for their constructive engagement.
“I would also like to acknowledge the willingness of the industry to take the lead in trials in the application of Rapid Antigen Testing and local vaccination services at sites, consistent with guidance from NSW Health.”
General information about COVID safety plans for construction businesses and tradespeople is available here.
The form for creating a COVID safety plan for work sites on non-occupied premises in Sydney is available here.
The form for the plan for other sites is available here.