What obligations do I have as an employer if my business is still operating?

Under the Stage 4 restrictions, workplaces that remain open must:
  • Have a COVIDSafe Plan in place that is regularly updated (unless you are a small business with fewer than 5 employees)
  • Ensure that any workers that can work from home are able to do so
  • Collect records of all workers, subcontractors, customers, and clients attending the work premises for 15 minutes or longer (certain exemptions will apply)
  • One worker per four square metres of enclosed workspace or in shared areas
  • Unless an exemption applies, ensure that workers do not work across multiple sites, or for multiple employers
  • Ensure that workers are in good health – workers cannot work if they are unwell and employers must not require workers with symptoms to work
  • If your worker is unwell, send them home and direct them to be tested. They must stay home until they have their result
  • Report any positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) to DHHS, WorkSafe, Health and Safety Representatives, and notify your workforce
  • Regularly clean your facilities, shared spaces and provide additional cleaning supplies
  • Undertake risk assessments for cleaning and the potential closure of your workplace in certain

Do I need to reduce numbers in factory?

In short, the answer is no.  As outlined above you must adhere to the one person per 4 square metre rule, however, I don’t know a plant in Australia that wouldn’t comply with this given the size of sheds and machinery.

You can social distance within the factory and you must ensure everything else is included in your COVIDSafe Plan.  Much of what is being asked for in the plan is stuff that you have already done or includes information FTMA has already sent you such as mask posters showing correct procedures, sign in sheets, entry signs and hand sanitiser which you can find under the COVID-19 resources section of the FTMA News website.

Completing Permitted Worker Permit

A fabricator asked what should be included in the section where it asks what Permitted Industry/Activity – our advice was to put Manufacturing to support residential building industry in this section however, if you are doing new permits, they have changed the wording, so I would put Manufacturing of Building Supplies to Support Construction to keep it in line with the Government’s permitted workers list.

Do truck drivers have a different permit system?

No, the same permit system is used for deliveries, however, as outlined below if you are visiting different sites, YOU MUST have a system in place to record all the required details such as location, date, time in and time out.  If you have tracking on your trucks, this will suffice, however, if not, then you MUST have a logbook for the drivers to complete.  It is worth noting that some builders are requiring the delivery drivers to complete a form on behalf of the builder stating their details including time in and time out.  If the builder is requesting this, your drivers should complete form, but delivery should continue to be contactless.

Do I have to complete the permit for all workers if I am not in Melbourne Metropolitan?

No, you only need to complete permit for workers travelling to and from Melbourne Metropolitan and your delivery drivers or other workers required to travel.  Again, I believe if numbers continue to rise in Regional Victoria the Government may place the whole state in to Stage 4, therefore I do encourage those fabricators and businesses outside Melbourne Metro to be ready with all the relevant information just in case.

What are the rules for smaller residential construction sites?

  • At small-scale residential sites, only five people plus a supervisor are allowed at any one time.
  • They must limit movement of workers between different sites where possible.
  • Supervisors and specialist tradies can only move between up to three sites per week.  I believe this applies to fabricators employees going to site for rectification works, site measure or erection crews.
  • Limit movement of workers between different sites. Specialist contractors that need to move between sites should visit no more than three sites per week. All workers moving between multiple sites must observe enhanced PPE and hygiene measures.

 Each early stage residential land development site will:

  • follow density restrictions of no more than 10 workers per hectare.
  • All workers count towards the density restrictions.
  • limit movement of workers between different sites where possible, and only with appropriate guidance.

What are the restrictions around site measures and site rectification work?

I believe the line which states Supervisors and specialist tradies can only move between up to three sites per week applies to fabricators employees visiting sites for site measures or site rectification work.  FTMA encourages you to abide by this ruling as we cannot find anything else that would indicate you are exempt from this.

Can we continue to extension or renovation works?

You can only do extension or renovation works IF THE PROPERTY IS EMPTY and no one is living there.  This does not mean, the person is at work so you can go to their house, they must have vacated the property before you can work onsite.

COVID Safe Plan

You should all have your COVID Safe Plan already in place and those at timber distribution centres should have their High Risk COVID Safe Plan in place.

If you have an erection crew that goes to site, it is our understanding that they would be classified as specialist tradies and therefore can only move between three sites per week.  You would also need to have a High Risk COVID Safe Plan in place for these crews.

If you haven’t yet done this, please do immediately as your business should not be open without this plan in place.

In Summary

As you can see, it has been an extremely difficult few weeks for Victorian Plants trying to get their head around what can and can’t be done.  Trying to decipher the poorly released government information has been a huge task as things have changed by the hour, day, and week and even still people have different interpretations of the rulings.

FTMA Australia continues to talk with CFMMEU, WorkSafe and other Government Agencies as we try and ensure the information, we are providing you is accurate at the time of sending!

If there are questions that aren’t covered above and you have any issues with Stage 4 or Stage 3 for Regional and Rural Victorian fabricators, please let us know.  No question is too small or trivial.

Kersten Gentle

Gold Sponsors