Restrictions apply for construction sites in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria
Construction workplaces are subject to directions for restricted operations and specific obligations.
This includes limiting the number of employees onsite at any one time, limiting movement between different sites and establishing a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan in metropolitan Melbourne, and a COVIDSafe Plan in regional Victoria.
These restrictions may be updated at any time. You must stay up to date with any changes for your industry.
How are my OHS obligations impacted by the restrictions?
There is no change to your obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) as a result of the restrictions.
Preparation of a COVIDSafe Plan forms part of the development of a safe system of work, however having a COVIDSafe Plan and complying with Chief Health Officer Directions does not necessarily mean you have complied with your duties under the OHS Act and OHS Regulations.
You must follow any health directions that apply to how your business must operate as well as ensure that you are meeting your obligations under the OHS Act. This includes consulting with employees and HSRs, if any, on matters related to health or safety that directly affect, or are likely to directly affect them. Employees must also comply with their duties under the OHS Act.
Screening for coronavirus (COVID-19)
For example, asking employees before they enter the worksite, if they have:
- been in contact with any confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) including:
- chills or sweats
- sore throat
- shortness of breath
- runny nose
- loss of sense of smell or taste
- in certain circumstances headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may also be considered symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
Screen employees over the phone or by other non-contact methods, to reduce person-to-person contact.
Identify those potentially affected by an employee suspected of or confirmed as having coronavirus (COVID-19).
Recording employee schedules and movements enables tracing of those who have come into contact with a confirmed case.
The record should include:
- date and time work was done
- team members who worked together
- specific work area(s) on the construction site
- any breaks taken, including time and location
- movement between sites
Minimise movement between sites, or areas within large sites, as much as possible.
Implement physical distancing of at least 1.5m wherever possible.
Employers should consider each work task to decide if there is a safer way to do the work with more distance between employees.
- place markings on floors and walls to show safe distances in work, transit and break areas
- consider different shift patterns to minimise the number of employees onsite (for example, introducing morning and afternoon shifts)
- stagger start times, breaks and finish times to avoid congestion in high traffic areas
- minimise employees coming into contact with each other as they move around the site
- plan how to maintain physical distancing during bad weather (for example, use of lunch or crib rooms and amenities)
- install temporary physical barriers (for example, fences or screens) between work areas, where appropriate
- minimise person-to-person interactions within 1.5m
- minimise the number of individuals involved in activities that need to occur within 1.5m of each other
- provide personal protective equipment (PPE) (for example, gloves, masks and/or face shields)
Note: Minimise employee numbers in restricted spaces (for example, lift shafts).
Face coverings in workplaces
Directions from the Chief Health Officer about face coverings are in place across Victoria. Everyone in Victoria over 12 years old needs to wear a face covering outside of their home, unless they have a lawful excuse not to do so. For more information see the guidance Managing coronavirus (COVID-19) risks: Face coverings in workplaces.
- displaying hygiene information in prominent locations on the construction site such as tea rooms, site offices, toilets, foyers, lifts and site entrances
- advising employees to follow good hygiene practices
- hand washing facilities such as wash basin, clean running water, soap, paper towels in strategic locations to ensure employees can access them in a timely manner
- access to hand sanitiser and encouraging regular use
- providing hand sanitiser at site entrances and exits, in all hoists, amenities and other high traffic areas of the site
Shared tools, plant and equipment
- drop saws
- elevating work platforms
- providing cleaning products with shared tools, plant and equipment
- keeping cleaning products with tools, plant and equipment as they move around the site
- advising all operators to practice good personal hygiene
- wipe down all tools, plant and equipment before and after use
- work areas and shared equipment
- transit areas including personnel hoists and lifts
- shared facilities including bathrooms and kitchens, crib rooms
Clean and disinfect surfaces in accordance with the DHHS guidelines on cleaning and disinfection to reduce coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission at construction sites. Read more in Related information.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
This includes providing information about the use, removal, disposal or decontamination of the PPE.
For example, ensuring the PPE does not:
- obstruct vision or mobility, allowing the user to do tasks safely
- introduce other risks
Employees using hoists and lifts may be more at risk to exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) because it requires them to be in close contact with others and potential contaminated surfaces.
Systems of works may include physical distancing, personal hygiene, PPE and cleaning.
- limiting employee movement between levels and floors on site
- review hoist availability and identify additional hoists for use
- implementing physical distancing and hygiene systems when waiting for hoists,
limiting how many persons can use a hoist at the same time.
Hoist operators may be exposed to additional risk.
Reduce risks by:
- providing hoist operators with PPE that helps guard against person-to-person transmission and from touching contaminated surfaces (For example, face coverings)
- encouraging frequent hand washing with soap and water or with hand sanitiser available near the hoist
- changing the hoist operator to a different role every 2 hours
Suspected or confirmed case
Note: DHHS will contact the affected individual to identify the close and casual contacts. If the employee has attended their workplace while they were infectious and had close contact with other employees, DHHS will also contact the employer.
Notifiable incidents and coronavirus (COVID-19)
From 28 July 2020 new temporary regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 specify when employers and self-employed persons must notify WorkSafe of a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace. For more information see the guidance Notifiable incidents involving coronavirus (COVID-19).
The response plan and procedure for suspected and confirmed cases should include:
Checklist in portable document format (PDF)
The Managing the risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) — a simplified checklist for the construction industry is also available in an interactive PDF format for printing.
Managing the risk of COVID-19 exposure: Construction
Face coverings in workplaces
DHHS: About coronavirus - How does coronavirus spread?External link
DHHS: Cleaning and disinfecting for business and construction sitesExternal link
DHHS: Coronavirus (COVID-19)External link
DHHS: About coronavirus - How do you define close contact?External link
Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations
DHHS: Cleaning and disinfecting to reduce COVID-19 transmissionExternal link