A coalition of Trade Unions and Industry Associations have joined together to develop comprehensive industry-wide guidelines for managing the risks associated with COVID-19 on Western Australian construction sites.
The guidelines will be regularly updated and made widely available within the Building and Construction Industry.
The Building and Construction Industry employs over 120,000 Western Australians, 94% of who are employed in small businesses, and turns over around $33 billion each year.
As an essential service, WA’s building and construction industry has continued to operate during the pandemic, with appropriate physical distancing, hygiene and other controls in place to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus. To date, the industry has been successful, with no known cases of COVID-19 on construction sites.
Twelve industry associations and trade unions have agreed that maintaining up to date guidelines on how best to manage the health and safety risks from COVID-19 will support the industry’s continued safe operations.
The industry coalition is chaired by MATES in Construction CEO, Brad Geatches, who is encouraged by the low number of COVID-19 cases in WA.
“These guideline will help reinforce that the threat is still very real. The Federal Government’s new roadmap shows that physical distancing, hygiene and other COVIDSafe measures will need to continue to be observed on sites for some time.” Mr Geatches said.
“But our industry is large and diverse, so we decided it was important to capture the best practice COVID-19 risk management methods developed so far by leading Industry Associations and Trade Unions in one widely accessible guideline.”
“Our own knowledge and the advice around this virus is regularly changing, so we decided having a consolidated guideline endorsed by a wide crosssection of unions and employer organisations would assist our industry to best address the safety concerns of COVID-19 for workers, their families and the WA public generally.”
The guidelines address social distancing on site, hygiene, mental health and how to manage a range of possible COVID-19 related scenarios that could arise on a construction site.
The Unions and Employer Organisations involved include CFMEU Construction & General Division WA, Civil Contractors Federation WA, Construction Contractors Association of WA, Construction Training Fund, Electrical Trades Union WA Branch, Master Painters & Decorators Australia, Master Plumbers and Gasfitters Association WA, MATES in Construction, National Electrical & Communications Association WA, National Fire Industry Association, Plumbing and Pipe Trades Employees
Union, and the WA construction redundancy fund ReddiFund.
CFMEU State Secretary, Mick Buchan, praised the work that all the organisations involved had put in and the way in which so many Unions and Industry Associations had put aside differences in the interests of protecting and supporting the whole WA construction sector.
“In the end, we’re all part of one industry and we need to protect it for everyone’s sake” Mr Buchan said.
“We’ve been working closely with individual builders and reputable industry bodies to make sure our industry stays running. But we’ve said all along that it can only be that way if it’s done right.”
“These industry guidelines show what can be done when people work together to protect and promote a fair, safe, profitable and secure industry for everyone involved.”
A copy of the new guidelines can be downloaded from the CFMEU website at wa.cfmeu.org.au/file/covid-19-wa-construction-industry-guidelines.