Insights

Construction in Victoria and the impact of stage 4 restrictions

CONSTRUCTION

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday announced Stage 4 business restrictions as part of the state's COVID-19 response.

Stage 4 lockdown will have a direct impact on the construction industry, with the sector going to what Mr Andrews described as "pilot light levels". In this update, construction lawyers Elon Zlotnick and Luke Callaghan provide an overview of the limited information which we have in connection with the restrictions impacting construction activity within metropolitan Melbourne, together with some of the questions that are currently unanswered.

Open (for on-site work)

  • Construction of critical and essential infrastructure and services to support these projects
  • Critical repairs to residential premises, are allowed, where required for emergency or safety

Restriction operations or industry-specific obligations

The following restrictions apply to large scale construction, being any building construction project of more than three storeys (excluding basement):

  • Maximum of 25 per cent of normal employees on site compared to normal operations
  • Must have High Risk COVID Safe Plan
  • Must demonstrate not blending shifts and workers can only work at one site during Stage 4

The following restrictions apply to small scale construction, being any building construction project which is less than three storeys (excluding basement):

  • Maximum of five workers (including supervisors)
  • Universal COVID Safe Plan
  • Must demonstrate not blending shifts and workers can only work at one site during Stage 4

State and civil construction (including time-critical new school builds) are exempt from reduction targets but will be required to implement a High Risk COVID Safe Plan.

Impact of the restrictions

These restrictions raise a number of questions, including for example:

  1. Why the construction of a building with a large footprint of less than three storeys, such as a large bulky goods warehouse or industrial strata development, shouldn't be able to operate as a large scale construction project, where for example the building's footprint could easily accommodate a far greater number of workers than that allowed for under the small scale construction restrictions, with current social distancing measures enforced?
  2. How long does a worker on one site need to wait prior to undertaking work on another site? Is a worker on a site under stage 3 restrictions, able to undertake work on a site under stage 4 restrictions, and if so, are they then able to return to the site under stage 3 restrictions?
  3. How will the prohibition against workers working on more than one site during stage 4, work when one considers the way in which works on any site are sequenced?
  4. How is the reference to 25 per cent of normal employees on site determined?

If we can be of any assistance to you in seeking to manage the challenges that these restrictions will bring to your projects in Victoria, please reach out.

Our Construction team will provide a further update once more details come to light.

Our team is actively monitoring and considering the implications of legal and regulatory developments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find our COVID-19 collection here.

All information on this site is of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as, nor to be a substitute for, specific legal professional advice. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any person acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material published can be accepted.

Key
Contacts

Luke Callaghan

Luke Callaghan

Lawyer