The Government has recently announced that Covid-19 alert level 3 will allow non-essential construction work to resume. This is good news for the industry, however there are new rules in place to ensure the health and safety risks of Covid-19 are mitigated. MBIE in consultation with industry bodies have produced the following documents:
- Covid-19 Construction Standard v1.1;
- New Zealand Covid-19 Health and Safety Protocols for NZ Residential Construction Sites; and
- New Zealand Covid-19 Health and Safety Protocols for Vertical (commercial) and Horizontal (civil) Sites.
It's important these rules are complied with by the entire industry for a few main reasons:
- Worksafe will be active in enforcing the requirements under the new Covid-19 Standard;
- Another large scale outbreak could result in lockdown level 4 being re-established – with all the relevant negative effects for the industry.
- The construction industry has been given the responsibility to operate when other sectors are still locked down. This should not be taken for granted.
The new Covid-19 Construction Standard provides the principles and minimum requirements that must be achieved. They are industry wide. Prevention measures are divided into several areas:- planning and set up before workers come on site, workplace entry, site operations, leaving the site and emergency management.
The two protocol documents describe how the principles and requirements will be achieved in a practical way. The protocol documents provide step through guides, links to forms, checklists and frequently asked questions. The protocols have been split in two sectors, one for residential and another for vertical (commercial) and horizontal (civil) so the practical guidance is more specific. Each individual contractor will need to develop business and site plans based off the standard and guidelines.
Naturally there will be areas requiring clarification by MBIE. Guidance has already been sought on several areas including examples of 'essential' works when physical distancing can be reduced from 1 metre and what type of preparation work can be completed in the days before level 3 starts on 28 April. MBIE have indicated they will only update the protocols where absolutely necessary so there is consistency and clarity for the industry.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.