Some Lockdown Hope For Construction Workers

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By Daniel Green

Some say our national economy is built on construction, and whilst dad jokes are now far less faux pas, one thing that no one is kidding about is the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re a construction worker [and there’s an even chance that you are] you may not know it but comparatively speaking – you’re one of the lucky ones.

Do The Maths

8.8% of Aussies work in construction. Maths is traditionally not our strong point but it’s possible that’s almost one-tenth! Because we make up so much of the national workforce [and our fair industry bolsters the annual economy by $360b] the white-collars down in Canberra need us back at work. In fact, until this latest lockdown many of us hadn’t felt the full effects of the pandemic at all [just take a minute to imagine working in a game where you haven’t had a job since January 2020].

They Need Us

But not so much that they’ll let us back to work without a leash. Construction sites have been reopened on the proviso that we follow the rules. So if we ever want those glorious 6am Caltex Meat Pie and Monster breakfasts again, unfortunately that’s just what we’re gonna have to do. You’ve gotta remember, the government isn’t all feet-up-on-the-desk pulling rules out of a hat just for kicks. This coronavirus thing – it kills people.

Here’s The Deal

In Greater Sydney, including the LGA’s under hard lock, as well as affected areas of regional & rural NSW, as of 12.01am on 11th August – we can go back to work!

IF.

  • Your site meets the definition of a construction site
  • Your site complies with capacity limits
  • Your site has a COVID-19 safety plan [which they probably expect you to use]
  • Your site complies with face mask rules.
  • Your site ensures workers comply with vaccination requirements before they enter.

Sounds pretty reasonable.

Well, What’s A Construction Site?

construction site [kuhn-struhk-shuhn sahyt] n.

According to Gladys, a construction site is:

  • a place where work, including related excavation, is being carried out to erect, demolish, extend or alter a building or structure; or
  • civil works are being carried out; but
  • does not include work in a home where people are living

Pretty much what it’s always been.

Capacity Limits

If you’re currently scrolling from inside Greater Sydney if you want your site to remain open it has to have:

  • no more than 1 person per 4m2, or
  • 50% of the maximum daily workforce

Whichever is the least. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean 50% of the max daily workforce when the project was at full steam, it means 50% of the max daily workforce at the stage it’s at. If you truly only need a crew of six at this stage of construction then you’ll have to make do with three.

If you’re currently scrolling through this from outside Greater Sydney:

a] we’re all jealous of your clean country air and we wish we’d moved years ago, and
b] your construction site has to have:

  • no more than 1 person per 4m2, or
  • a maximum of 25 workers on site at one time

COVID-19 Safety Plans

This is a guide on how to best protect us from the ‘Rona so we can get back on site and building this great nation making TikTok’s while the Supervisor is out at Bunnings. It actually has some pretty neat ideas to get us back on track. Things like record keeping, site cleaning and distancing. Doing up a COVID-19 Safety Plan is literally a five minute exercise but there’s one crucial factor that everyone must remember: when you’re checking in at site, wear your tinfoil hat so that the 5G nano-chips in your vaccine can’t be activated.

Some Lockdown Hope For Construction Workers

Face Mask Rules

We all agree that they’re a total pain in a butt, but we have to wear them or we’ll be in lockdown til August two thousand and FOREVER. You must wear a face mask on a construction site and that’s the end of it. No buts, no ifs, no maybes. However. You can remove a mask if you are:

  • eating or drinking
  • communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • at work and the nature of the work makes the wearing of a fitted face covering a risk to the person’s, or
  • another persons’ health and safety, or where clear enunciation or visibility of your mouth is essential
  • asked to remove your mask for identity purposes
  • in an emergency situation
  • at a correctional centre, place of custody, or hospital
  • a guest in a hotel/motel room and in your room
  • on outdoor areas of construction sites
  • in a vehicle alone or with another person from your household

This doesn’t mean you can look for ways to dodge the system. The exceptions are here so that the numbers go down and we can all go back to work instead of just half of us.

Vaccination Requirements

Because vaccinations are good at stopping diseases and such, Berejiklian and Co. has made it compulsory for some of us to have at least one jab before we can enter site. Those of us who live in the LGA’s of concern [Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown etc], from 12:01am on Wednesday 11 August 2021 you must not enter or remain at a construction site in Greater Sydney unless you:

  • have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, or
  • have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before Wednesday 21st July 2021, or
  • have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine after Wednesday 21st July 2021 and you have been tested for COVID-19 in the past 72 hours, or
  • have evidence of a medical exemption and you have been tested for COVID-19 in the past 72 hours

If you are required to have a COVID-19 test to enter or remain at a construction site, you must continue to have a COVID-19 test once every 72 hours.

Moving Forward

Us construction workers are far luckier than we think. Yeah we’ve gotta wear masks and get vaccinated and maintain distance, and yeah – it’s a pain. But I’d rather wear a mask on site than wear a mask visiting my mum in hospital because I gave her the virus. I’d rather feel a bit crook from getting the vaccine than feel really crook from getting infected. I’d rather maintain distance on site than maintain distance from everyone I know because I’m in quarantine. Given the choice I think we all would.

At least we’re employed. Some people don’t even have that.