Construction work is currently classified as an essential service by the Australian government, resulting in sites looking set to remain open for the foreseeable future with work hours on sites in New South Wales and Victoria now extended. Australia’s construction industry employs up to 1.2 million people across the country and encompasses 400,000 small businesses, making it more important now than ever to keep this essential workforce safe and healthy while being exposed to close and multi-person contact environments.
Salta Properties is committed to working with our partners to adapt our sites and ensure the health and safety of our staff in line with the Victorian Government Best Practice Guidelines for construction sites during the COVID-19 pandemic
Our Head Contractors currently undertaking works for us have implemented the following social distancing practices on active construction sites:
- Staggered start times are now a requirement. Trades starting at instructed times spreads out the movements of materials and ensures fewer people are in the sheds together at the start and end of the day.
- Staggered smoking times are now a requirement resulting in fewer people in the sheds at any one time. Staff are also asked to ensure they remain 1.5 metres distance apart at all times while taking breaks.
- Staff are allowing extra time for washing their hands and cleaning any surfaces they touch between and during breaks.
- In the event of bad weather alternative arrangements have been set up with chairs and tables set up in various locations across the site.
- Staff have been encouraged to bring their own coffee cups, cutlery, crockery and water bottles to avoid sharing utensils. Additionally, we have urged staff to avoid sharing food.
- During good weather, we encourage our staff to sit outside for lunch, following the 1.5 metres distance rules.
- Staff have been asked not to loiter in sheds or common areas on site.
Vertical travel on site
- It is unavoidable for some of our staff to use a hoist on site but where possible staff are being encouraged to use the stairs. The enterprise bargaining agreement permits the use of stairs across four levels.
- When using a hoist is unavoidable, staff are asked to observe social distancing measures by keeping 1.5 metres apart in the queue.
- Staff are encouraged to all travel to the one floor together, following social distancing rules, to ultimately ensure a faster, safer and more efficient trip.
- The 1.5 metre rule is to be observed wherever possible on site and 4 metre squared per person is provided for works on indoor spaces. This means separating trades so that they are working in different locations of the site.
- Each work group is reviewing how they can observe the 1.5 metre rule on an ongoing basis. For some trades it is easier to follow, such as electricians fitting lighting where it is possible for them to work at different ends of the space but more difficult for form workers passing materials to each other.
- Hand hygiene rules have been increased and workers are required to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap. Hand shaking is no longer permitted, and work crews have increased access to hand sanitiser on location. Workers are also being encouraged to not touch their faces.
- Workers are kept apart as much as possible with crews split into “teams” who work in different locations on site and don’t travel together to work. Looking forward, this means if one team were to contract COVID-19 and have to self-quarantine it may not remove all trade from a site.
- As much as possible, any unavoidable meetings are happening outside. Our teams have toolbox meetings which throughout this period are being held in smaller workgroups with a preference for meetings being held outside with social distancing measures of 1.5 metres being observed at all times.
As well as the above our Head Contractors are also displaying posters around the site to remind and educate the onsite workforce of the mandatory rules in place to protect them from COVID-19.
At this difficult time, it’s a priority for Salta Properties that we continue to work with our partners to ensure the health and safety of staff, their families and the communities in which they work and live.
Posted 16 April 2020