Vaccine requirements and personnel limits for construction sites in Greater Sydney
As of 11 August 2021, the New South Wales Government has introduced new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on construction sites, including vaccine requirements, personnel limits, and a mask mandate. These changes are implemented in the latest iteration of the Public Health (COVID-19 Additional Restrictions for Delta Outbreak) Order 2021 (Public Health Order). Following these changes in the Public Health Order, work on construction sites may now be carried out in all parts of New South Wales, however the Order imposes strict requirements on construction sites in the Greater Sydney area.
Vaccination requirements are mandated for construction workers who reside in the local government areas of City of Blacktown, City of Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, City of Fairfield, Georges River, City of Liverpool, City of Parramatta, Bayside, Strathfield, Burwood and some suburbs of the City of Penrith (Declared Areas). Construction workers who reside in the Declared Areas are only allowed on construction sites if they:
- have had 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, or
- have had 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 21 days ago, or
- have had 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within the preceding 21 days and have been tested for COVID-19 within the preceding 72 hours, or
- have a certified medical contraindication and have been tested for COVID-19 within the preceding 72 hours.
If the above requirements are met, construction workers who reside in the Declared Areas are deemed to be “authorised workers” and are allowed to leave the Declared Areas for work. “Authorised workers” also include those who work in electricity, gas, water and waste services. A complete list of authorised workers to whom the exemption applies is available on the NSW government website.
Workers who live in Greater Sydney must not work more than 50 kilometres outside of the Greater Sydney area unless they have been tested for COVID-19 within the preceding 7 days.
In the Greater Sydney area, the Public Health Order imposes a maximum capacity on construction sites, which is the lesser of:
- 1 person per 4 square metres, or
- 50% of the “maximum daily workforce” (as set out in the current resourcing plan for the site).
The Public Health Order sets out rules for determining the “maximum daily workforce” (in clause 24AB). The Public Health Order (in its form as at the time of publication) can be accessed here.
Throughout all of New South Wales, masks are required to be worn at all times at indoor and outdoor work sites unless a person is exempt for a permitted reason. Additionally, a COVID-19 Safety Plan must also be implemented, unless the site is an occupied residence. NSW Government guidance for preparing a COVID-19 Safety Plan can be accessed here.
Construction Work Days Order
Further to our previous update regarding the further extension of permitted construction working hours (which can be viewed here), as a further measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as of 31 July 2021, building work and demolition work in New South Wales is permitted to be carried out on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays during the hours of work or operation specified for a weekday in the relevant development consent. This change was enacted pursuant to the Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Construction Work Days) Order (No 3) 2021 (NSW) (Construction Work Days Order) (which can be viewed here).
For all works the subject of a development consent, the Construction Work Days Order permits the ‘carrying out’ of ‘building work’ or ‘work’, or the ‘demolition’ of a ‘building’ or ‘work’, (as these terms are defined in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW)) on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays during the hours of work or operation specified for a weekday in the development consent, on the condition that:
- the works must comply with all conditions of the consent (except to the extent the consent restricts the hours of work or operation on a Saturday or a Sunday);
- the works do not include activities such as rock breaking, rock hammering, sheet piling and pile driving during hours that would not be permitted but for the Construction Work Days Order; and
- all feasible and reasonable measures are taken to minimise noise.
The restrictions on noisy work imposed by the Construction Work Days Order are less prescriptive than those imposed under the previous order, and are dependent upon the relevant development consent.
Subject to any further changes by the NSW Government, these extended construction working hours will continue to apply until 24 December 2021.
It is important to note that the Public Health Order takes precedence over the Construction Work Days Order.
This article has been co-authored with Tessa Dudfield.