A new national Standard and Protocols have been developed for the construction industry, providing clarity over what will be expected as the industry returns to work under Alert Level 3
“The government’s announcement that construction will be able to operate under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 is a huge relief to us all,” says Civil Contractors New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Silcock.
“We now have the responsibility to make sure our people and sites are safe when lockdown lifts.”
Infrastructure New Zealand Chief Executive Paul Blair says “the Government’s commitment to allow safe construction work to proceed under Alert Level 3 is excellent news, and we encourage all our members to adopt the COVID-19 Construction Protocols recently developed through exemplary industry-government collaboration.
“The protocols comprise a comprehensive set of health and safety guidelines and rules for working under Alert Level 3, in the residential, civil, and vertical construction sectors.
“We encourage all our members to familiarise themselves with these protocols, available on the CHASNZ website, to both keep workers safe and give them the confidence that it is safe to return to work.
“It is vitally important that all firms follow these protocols. The last thing we want is to cause a return to Level 4 lockdowns.”
Chief Executive of Naylor Love and Construction Sector Accord member Rick Herd says, “throughout the lockdown, industry leaders have been working hard behind the scenes to pull together the health and safety information vital to getting sites safely up and running as soon as we get the green light from government.”
The industry has been battling tough times in the face of the COVID-19 lockdown, with all but essential sites shut down.
“We want everyone in the supply chain to get back on their feet and do their bit to rebuild New Zealand’s economy.”
“The standards and protocols that have been developed give strong assurance to our workers, government and the public that we can do this safely.”
Site Safe Chief Executive Brett Murray says the industry has come together to produce this framework, and the work has involved the civil, vertical and residential sectors, as well as health and safety organisations Construction Health and Safety NZ (CHASNZ) and Site Safe.
“We want our members to be able to get back to work as quickly, and as safely, as possible. The framework that has been developed, which consists of a set of standards and a set of protocols, is in accordance with official advice and will ensure workers, their whānau, and the community are kept as safe as possible.”
Two protocols have been developed: one targeted at the civil and vertical sector, and the other at residential.
CHASNZ Chief Executive Chris Alderson says “the protocols developed by industry and Site Safe, and the protocols developed by the residential leaders, will sit underneath that standard and will essentially form the detailed ‘how to’ guidance on managing COVID-19 risks on construction sites around the country.”
With input from over 50 businesses, including some of New Zealand’s largest constructors, Civil Contractors NZ, the Vertical Leaders Group, residential leaders, SMEs and unions, the framework has been endorsed by the Construction Sector Accord and is being welcomed by those in the civil, vertical and residential sectors.
The protocols and standards have been developed to recognise the challenges faced by all parts of the sector, from large contractors to small residential builders.
Registered Master Builders Association Chief Executive David Kelly welcomes the framework and says “these documents will be crucial for the many residential builders looking for guidance on what comes next and how to do their bit. This framework will help to provide some certainty for our members.”
“It’s critical that everyone in the industry follows the right processes that have been agreed in this guidance. We need to demonstrate that as an industry we can work safely as no one wants to see us return to Level 4 – and that means the whole of the industry needs to work together on this.”
“The civil construction industry can and will take lead role in an expanded work programme through the NZ Upgrade Programme and new local infrastructure projects,” says Silcock.
“There are great opportunities ahead. But first and foremost we need to get our current staff safely back to work and make sure they can stay on the job.
“The protocols are important. They protect our people, their families and whanau. They also assure clients, community and government we are committed to preventing the spread of COVID-19 while getting the economy going.
“Having a clear and consistent approach for contractors, subcontractors and everyone else on site will reduce confusion and negotiation, taking the strain off at a pivotal time. To assist in understanding and answer any questions you may have about the new protocols, CCNZ Technical Manager Stacy Goldsworthy will host a webinar explaining the details on Monday – I encourage you all to register.
“At times like this, our relationships can be put under extra strain – or prove their worth. We have all been affected by the lockdown – businesses and people. We need to look after each other as we move out of lockdown and understand people will feel apprehensive about returning to work. Some may have children or vulnerable people at home. We need to show support, communicate well and provide help when it is needed. Mates in Construction is there to help if one of your staff needs help.
“The Construction Accord has massively changed how Government and industry have worked together. We have seen a commitment from government clients to fair contract terms. COVID-19 has been recognised as a variation of contract. Clients have been instructed to consider early payments and additional hardship.
“We also need to ensure head contractors treat subbies and the supply chain in the same way – with fairness and understanding. What better time for CCNZ contractor members to support each other, and for all contractors to support the associate members that have supported the industry through the years,” Silcock says.
“Construction not only improves the built environment and supports our well-being, it also bolsters a host of other infrastructure professions including architects, designers, engineers, investors, lawyers, surveyors, and consultants,” Blair says.
“Restarting construction will help these firms get back to work and focus will now turn to prioritising a programme of work which meets short, medium and long term objectives.
“We commend both the speed with which industry was able to develop these protocols and the Government’s swift decision making.
“This crisis has shown how valuable it is to have true partnership between industry and government. We look forward to continued collaboration,” says Blair.
The standard and protocols are the result of work from many cross-industry groups and agencies, including Construction Health and Safety New Zealand and the Construction Accord Steering Group. They are recognised by WorkSafe and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. CCNZ has included perspective from members of all sizes, and provided extensive input.
A lot of work has gone into these standards and protocols so we can all get back to business when lockdown lifts. If you work in construction, please take a look and make sure your business is ready to put them into practice when lockdown lifts.
The standard has been created by Construction Health and Safety New Zealand and is available with the Protocols and other tools and resources at https://www.chasnz.org/covid19.