The health and safety of everyone working in the building and construction industry and our community is Master Builders' top priority. So is the viability of the 395,0000 businesses that make up our industry and the jobs of the 1.2 million people our industry employs. 

Master Builders Australia is closely monitoring the fast moving situation around Covid-19, coordating with Master Builders Associations in each state and territory and in contact with the Federal Government and its agencies. Please come to this page or the click image below to subscribe our daily update. 

 

Top Five tips for keeping coronavirus off building sites

We’ve heard about lots of new and innovative ideas that Master Builders members are adopting to ensure they have solid social-distancing practices in place. Each business will be different, but we thought it could be useful to give an overview of what some members are doing to encourage everyone to think and act.

Our top five tips can be thought about as:

  1. Don’t let COVID-19 in – site access controls.
  2. Contain COVID-19 by working smarter – worker teams.
  3. Friends don’t expose friends to COVID-19 – lunchrooms and site sheds.
  4. You touch it – you clean it – hygiene and disinfection. 
  5. Keep your distance Champions – designated workers to monitor social-distancing rules.

1. Don’t let COVID in - site access points:

Some construction sites have used site access points as one way to ensure good hygiene and minimise virus spread. Strict control of site access points is required by law anyway, however some companies are using them to maximum effect. For example:

  • Every single person who enters the site is required to undertake some basic practices like disinfecting with sanitizer, being reminded of the 1.5m rule, and being checked for any flu-like symptoms. 
  • This happens every time a person enters and exists the site – even if it’s for a short break. 
  • There are no exceptions, and this applies to everyone – from subbies to delivery drivers. 
  • Basic but accurate records are kept in case they are needed. 

2. Contain COVID-19 - worker teams:

Some sites have implemented a ‘teams’ system whereby workers are grouped with a limited number of colleagues, so they only have contact with the smallest number of people possible.  This minimises the spread and possibly avoids the need to shut-down an entire workplace if someone contracts COVID-19, because it is easier to quickly and accurately know the extent of possible contact. For example:

  • On a large multi-storey site, workers on each floor are grouped (while adhering to social distancing protocols) to minimise contact with workers on other levels. 
  • Each group enters and leaves the site together, and only engages with other workers when they absolutely have to – and only does so with particular focus on social distancing basics.

3. Friends don’t expose friends to COVID-19- Lunchrooms and site sheds:

Most members have already limited numbers of people who can be in lunchrooms and site sheds at any one time, and there are also rules that Government has established that must be followed. These rules are:

  • All non-essential gatherings should be cancelled, and essential gatherings should be highly restricted. Lunch and working breaks are essential but must follow social distancing procedures.
  • All essential gatherings must adhere to the four-square-metre rule, meaning that there must be 4sqm of space for each person. You need to know how large your lunchroom is, and how many people can be in it at any one time.
  • Even when you have met the requirements of the 4sqm rule, you must have 1.5m distance between you and the other people in the site shed.
  • If it is not possible or practical to stagger breaks so all can access the site shed and adhere to the four-square-metre rule, you should take your meal break in another appropriate area – focussing on outdoor spaces.

4. You touch it, you clean it – regular cleaning and disinfection: 

In some sites, people are being asked to take a ‘touch it – clean it’ approach. This involves a direction that any equipment or commonly touched items or surfaces are regularly cleaned and disinfected. For example:

  • Each worker is required to ensure that touch points of equipment they use is cleaned and disinfected once they’ve finished with it and before anyone else uses it;
  • Asking everyone to clean equipment touch points when they use equipment, even if the last person has also disinfected it;
  • At the start and finish of shifts and breaks, some companies are asking that all equipment is cleaned and disinfected before and afterwards.

4. Keep Your Distance Champions - designated workers to monitor social-distancing rules: 

Some companies have tasked particular workers with the job of ensuring people follow the social distancing rules, known as a ‘Keep your distance Champion’. These workers are asked to do things such as:

  • Remind people about social distancing rules. 
  • Assist any COVID initiatives, such as worker teams or groups. 
  • Answer any employee questions. 
  • Hold cleaning and disinfectant supplies, and undertake basic related tasks for commonly touched areas. 
  • Collate worker feedback, suggestions or tips. 
  • Identify practical approaches to specific types of work that may involve close contact with others. 
  • Provide feedback to management about new ideas. 
  • Record basic details about what’s happened during their shift to ensure basic social-distancing rules are followed and. 
  • Keep basic records of who comes into close contact with who in a particular area, so they can be referenced if someone contracts COVID-19 in the future.

Covid-19 Key Contractural & Commercial Issues

Thinking about contractural and commercial issues is more important than ever to help businesses respond to the challenges of Covid-19. 

Key Contract & Commercial Issues is a paper prepared by Master Builders Australia's legal team to provide general information for construction businesses to consider and checklist to encourage businesses to think and act.