Building and construction: Minimising the risk from COVID-19
The Western Australian work health and safety laws require Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) to take care of the safety and health of their workers and others at the workplace.
- providing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment; and
- providing facilities for workers in carrying out their work.
PCBUs must identify risks at the workplace, and where possible eliminate or minimise those risks.
The number of workers on a construction project can vary significantly between projects and from day to day. While physical distancing is not mandatory, it is good risk management to encourage physical distancing between workers where practicable.
You must implement control measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that other measures to address well known work safety and health risks continue to be implemented (e.g. Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS)). This is the case even if implementing control measures results in delays to your project schedule or cause disruption.
Managing the risks of exposure to COVID-19
Workers in this industry were required to have received their second dose of vaccine by 31 January 2022. The WA Government has released information on Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.
In particular there is a section entitled “Compliance for employers and staff” which includes the following: “Each employer or person in charge of a workplace must ensure that their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, or exempt from vaccination.”
For further information see Department of Health publications:
Physical distancing on construction sites can be challenging at times but can help to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
You may wish to consider the following control measures, where practicable for your workplace:
- Limit worker numbers on site where possible, for example - split shifts into AM and PM
- Stagger meal and break times to limit the number of workers congregating in one area. Spread out furniture in crib/break rooms.
- Conduct toolbox and other meetings in open spaces to enable workers to spread out.
Information for workers and others
The Australian Government Department of Health has a range of posters and other resources aimed at educating the public about COVID-19. These posters can be placed in client-facing work environments like workplace entrances.
The PCBU should ensure that there are adequate hand washing facilities on site to promote good hygiene, that workers have been informed not to attend site, and to get tested for COVID-19, if unwell, and that there are systems in place for workers to raise any safety and health issues that may arise.
Further information and resources
- Managing COVID-19 risks in the workplace | Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (commerce.wa.gov.au)
- Health checks and quarantine
- Environmental cleaning
- Worker hygiene
- Deliveries and other contractor attending the workplace
- Keep workers informed
- Consultation and communicating to workers
Safe Work Australia materials
- Construction work model code of practice
- Managing the work environment and facilities model Code of Practice
Other useful resources
- Work Health and Safety Commission - Code of practice - Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination
- COVID-19 Master Builders of WA information
- Master Builders Association Victoria – COVID-19 – Guidelines for the building and construction industry Australia
- Master Builders Association NSW – Coronavirus information
- Master Builders Association ACT - COVID-19 Information
- Fair Work Ombudsman – Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws
- Australian Government Treasury – Support for Businesses
- Australian Taxation Office – COVID-19
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