Preparing for a return to work
The construction industry is back in business, but the return to work brings with it a new ‘normal’
With most in the construction sector back to work under Alert Level 2, the Ministry of Business, Innovations, and Employment (MBIE) has provided guidance on best practice during this period.
Early access to your business
Since 22 April 2020, businesses have been allowed a restricted number of people on site to prepare for safe operation under Alert Level 3 and 2. This activity should relate to:
- Setting up health and safety provisions to make sure they are consistent with site specific health and safety protocols.
- General site safety assessments, so risks that might have arisen during lockdown can be assessed, and where possible plan for or mediate those risks.
- Post-shutdown site engineering testing on structures or other elements of construction.
- Deliveries of goods and materials required to restart site operations.
Businesses should carefully consider what activities are absolutely necessary, and how to safely operate based on their individual circumstances.
These activities are only allowed if they can be done safely and in line with public health guidance and businesses’ health and safety protocols. This includes appropriate hygiene measures and physical distancing of two metres wherever possible, as required at Alert Level 4. All other normal site rules will also still apply.
Create a COVID control plan
At Alert Level 2, onsite work for the building and construction sector is only permitted for businesses that have a COVID-19 control plan in place. This must include appropriate health and safety and physical distancing measures for both staff and building occupants.
Your control plan must show how you will implement physical distancing measures and meet hygiene requirements such as washing hands and equipment, as well as the measures you have put in place to allow for contact tracing.
Construction Health and Safety NZ (CHASNZ), in conjunction with the joint government/industry Construction Sector Accord, has published detailed construction health and safety standards and protocols to help you to develop your control plan.
WorkSafe also has resources to help you transition into Alert Level 2 and ensure employees and building occupants are protected against COVID-19.
Check the durability and condition of your materials
Under Alert Level 4, you may have been concerned about the durability and condition of the materials left on site.
MBIE has provided some general information on product durability. For more detailed advice, BRANZ has put together guidelines on how to best return to your building site and assess both its condition, and the condition of your materials.