Insights

An update on Stage 4 restrictions and the construction industry

Construction

Following extensive consultation with the sector, Business Victoria has now provided further guidance on how the Stage 4 restrictions will impact the construction industry.

In this article, Elon Zlotnick and Luke Callaghan provide an update on Melbourne's Stage 4 construction industry restrictions. As at 11.59pm tonight (7 August 2020), the following updated restrictions come into effect (our previous insight on the details of the initial restrictions can be seen here):

Permitted work premises

Under Stage 4 "Stay at Home" Restrictions the default is that workplaces in metropolitan Melbourne are closed unless the workplace is a permitted work premise. The following are permitted work premises for the purpose of sites on which construction work is taking place.

  1. Building and non-building construction (including residential);
  2. Construction of critical and essential infrastructure and services to support these projects, and other construction in line with restrictions; and
  3. Critical repairs to any premises are allowed where required for emergency or safety.

Stage 4 restrictions for permitted work premises (as updated)

Large-scale construction:

A construction site is considered large scale for the purposes of these guidelines if it is:

  • more than three storeys; or
  • larger than 1,500 sqm; or
  • any office or retail fit-out; or
  • industrial, large-format or retail use.

Large commercial construction projects are only allowed to have a maximum of 25 percent of their workforce on site, as calculated from the "baseline workforce" across the "project lifecycle".

  • "Baseline workforce" is the average daily number of personnel on site across the project lifecycle, as derived from the project’s written resourcing plan as of July 2020 (which is subject to audit).
  • "Project lifecycle" commences from the date of on-site mobilisation and ends at handover.
  • All personnel count towards the 25 percent limit with the exception of staff specifically dedicated to oversight of COVID safe functions in the workplace.

Specialist trades, engineers and equipment that need to move between sites should visit no more than three sites per week.

All workers moving between multiple sites must observe enhanced PPE and hygiene measures.

Small-scale construction:

A small-scale construction project was initially defined as being one which is less than three storeys (excluding basement). There has been no update to this definition, although one would expect that a site which doesn’t meet the updated criteria for a large-scale construction project would be a small-scale construction project.

Up to five people plus a supervisor are allowed on site at any one time.

Movement of workers between different sites is to be limited where possible, and only with appropriate guidance.

Supervisors can move between sites and specialist trades can move between up to three sites per week, subject to enhanced COVID safe practices.

All construction sites must:

  • have a High Risk COVID Safe Plan in place that is regularly updated. Where practicable, COVID Safe Plans should be designed with input from employees and their representatives; and
  • allow no more than one worker per four square metres of enclosed workspace.

All employees, supervisors and on-site specialists will be:

  • prohibited from carpooling to and from work
  • required to inform their employer if they share accommodation with anyone working at another high-risk workplace, and
  • required to limit movement between multiple sites and observe enhanced PPE and hygiene measures if working between sites.

The government has not yet released any formal regulations codifying these changes, and the DHHS website does not contain any significant detail on these important restrictions, instead referring to the Business Victoria website to detail the changes.

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