Victoria’s construction industry face COVID-19 compliance blitz

September 15, 2021
FCB Workplace Law

Industry Focus

Infrastructure & Construction

In response to a record number of COVID-19 transmissions, the Victorian Government has announced a four-week compliance blitz within the construction industry in the hope of slowing down the spread of the latest outbreak in which a man in his 20s recently lost his life to the virus.

The blitz is targeting small-to-medium sized businesses to support their often mobile and young workforce to understand their obligations under the Chief Health Officer’s directions. According to Government reports, the Industry Enforcement Engagement operation, Work Safe, and the Victoria Building Authority will be taking a “zero-tolerance” approach to breaches of health orders.

Lunch or tea rooms have been cited as being problem areas, as often this is where union meetings are held, workers congregate to consume food and drink, and shift changeovers occur between colleagues.  In pre-COVID-19 times, this was standard practice, and people interacted freely.  Now, rigorous and protective procedures and policies are required to be in place.

Additionally, all construction workers must check-in when entering a site using the Victorian Government QR Code Service, and always wear a face mask, unless an exemption applies. Employers must do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure their employees are following the relevant health protocols, and not placing either their colleagues or members of the public in harm’s way.

FCB Workplace Law has assisted a number of its clients to manage shift changes in a way where workers do not need to physically interact with one another and have also structured rosters to cater for staggered break times to ensure minimal physical contact between colleagues.  Further, we have assisted businesses in acclimatising their workforces to mandatory check-in processes.

If measures such as these are not put in place, businesses face on-the-spot fines of up to $10,904 (up to $109,044 if the matter proceeds to court), and the imposition of improvement notices.

While construction workers have now been granted increased access to COVID-19 vaccinations, demand is high and wait times can take several days or weeks. If your business or workers require advice on how to best comply with COVID-19 safe protocols, or how to implement best practice health and safety measures, please contact the team at FCB Workplace Law.