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By Altus Group | 7 April, 2020

The construction industry is stepping up to the challenge of Covid-19.

When your industry supports the livelihoods of one in 10 Australians, keeping that workforce is essential to Australia’s economic recovery.

Industry groups and unions have joined forces in unprecedented cooperation to ensure control measures minimise the spread of Covid-19. In response, site amenities are being redesigned, social distancing policies implemented and hygiene standards elevated. Innovative approaches are being introduced at lightspeed.

But how do you implement strict measures without causing major disruptions or delays to your project schedule?

1. Practice social distancing

Slowing the spread of coronavirus means everyone must practice social distancing. On construction sites, this means limiting the number of workers on site. There should be no more than one worker for every four square metres of space on site. To comply, construction companies are adopting a range of strategies:

  • Stagger start times and introduce split shifts
  • Encourage flexible work arrangements
  • Restrict site visitations
  • Conduct meetings online and use mobile phone or radio for communication
  • Carefully schedule work to provide distance between workgroups
  • Stagger times for meal breaks and create new areas for people to sit while they eat
  • Move site offices outdoors
  • Limit the number of workers that can use lifts and hoists at any one time.

Construction sites in NSW can now operate on weekends and public holidays under new rules to support the industry during the pandemic. The City of Melbourne is extending site hours on a case-by-case basis and other states are expected to follow.

2. Support good hygiene

Good hygiene and regular handwashing are frontline activities in the fight with Covid-19. To support good hygiene:

  • Provide and promote the use of sanitisers on entering workplaces, after eating, after using the bathroom, after sharing equipment and at regular intervals
  • Introduce outdoor washbasins
  • Limit sharing of tools and equipment, and where it is necessary, provide gloves or sanitisers
  • Reduce the number of touch points by leaving access doors open
  • Increase regular cleaning routines and disinfect high-touch surfaces
  • When people are working indoors, ensure spaces are well ventilated
  • Provide clear communication about hygiene standards, like covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding handshakes and staying home when sick.

3. Communicate with clarity

Clear, regular communication breeds confidence. Keep all your stakeholders – from staff to clients – informed of the actions you are taking and new policies and procedures as regulation changes. And nominate a responsible officer who will maintain clear lines of communication and determine your plan of action for when staff do arrive sick at work, or if a case of Covid-19 does occur on site.

The Covid-19 crisis moving very swiftly, and it is vital to maintain a close eye on new controls and regulations to reduce the spread of the virus. There has never been a more important time for timely, informed and reliable information, we will keep this page up to date as the situation continues to evolve.

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