Construction health and safety in Level 1

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Following the Government announcement that New Zealand has moved to Level 1 of the COVID-19 lockdown response from 11.59pm on Monday 8 June the protocols relating to construction operations have been updated. Although some of the protocols that were in operation under Levels 3 and 2 have been relaxed or removed there are still several protocols that need to be complied with which aim to protect workforces and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The revised Level 1 protocols are available on the Construction Health and Safety NZ website (https://www.chasnz.org/COVID19).

Although there are now fewer requirements than at Levels 3 and 2 there are still operational requirements in place including the following:

  • Continuing obligation to have a COVID-19 response plan in place to deal with probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases
  • All workers need to confirm they are safe to be on site and in particular stay at home if they are feeling unwell
  • Use the site sign-in process for contact tracing purposes
  • Keep signage in place at site entrances and in common areas reminding workers of the COVID-19 protocols
  • The cleaning measures set out in the Cleaning and Hygiene Guide must be implemented which include:
    • Complying with the Ministry of Health recommendations in relation to common areas
    • Use of disposable cloths/paper towels for cleaning and providing sufficient rubbish bins which are regularly emptied
    • Providing additional hand washing facilities on site and ensuring soap and water is readily available and topped up at all times (or alternatively provide hand sanitiser if hand washing facilities are not available)
  • All waste Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves must be removed from the site and disposed of safely.

There are additional requirements in place for residential construction sites.

The protocols also restates the consequences if a member of the workforce is infected. It is important to remember in these circumstances you should call Healthline and follow the advice of health officials. There is not an automatic requirement to close down an entire site. It is however necessary to clean areas where the affected individual has been working (which may require evacuating those areas whilst such cleaning is carried out) and identify who at the site has had close impact with the infected individual in the 24 hours before they exhibited symptoms.

Due to the diverse size and complexity of work sites there is not a one-size fits all approach but the protocols do need to be complied with and addressed practically on site. Although there are now fewer operational requirements in place there will be still be cost and time implications of meeting the remaining requirements. These will need to be addressed between the parties and, as with managing the impact of the previous COVID-19 levels and requirements, discussing these matters as soon as possible and maintaining good communication between the parties will be crucial.

For further information please contact a member of our construction and projects or health and safety team.

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.