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Construction workers face vaccine compliance blitz

Victoria's construction sector on a "knife’s edge"

As construction sites have been identified as a major source of transmission in Victoria’s recent outbreak, the Victorian government is introducing a four-week compliance blitz in a bid to keep the building industry open.

Four major vaccination centres will be open everyday from today until 26 September to increase vaccination coverage among the state’s 320,000 construction workers, and 20,000 Pfizer appointments as well as unlimited AstraZeneca jabs will be available over the next week to boost the COVID-19 construction vaccination program.

Victorian Treasurer and Industrial Relations Minister, Tim Pallas, flagged the building industry as one of the main sources of COVID-19 hotspots and highlighted the importance of the new vaccination initiative.

“Our construction industry is critical to our state, but what is even more important is vaccinating each and every Victorian so we can slow the spread of the virus,” he said.

“The construction sector’s ability to remain open is on a knife’s edge, and to ensure they can keep building, people need to get vaccinated and follow the rules.”

The government wants to ensure that construction workers follow the compliance policy practicing COVID safety rules. Hence, 50 authorised teams, WorkSafe inspectors and people working for the Victorian Building Authority will visit sites after the vaccination scheme.

Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Paul Guerra, said targeting the construction sector in order to increase immunisation rates and monitor compliance is critical.

“We would like to see this program expanded to customer-facing workforces such as hospitality and retail, as well as childcare and education after the construction blitz,” he said.

“The Victorian Chamber is also advocating for greater clarity on how the 90 percent vaccination rate for construction workers will be documented and communicated when those levels become mandated and how that could serve as a pilot for other industries.”

“Business is looking for immediate clarity, certainty and guidance on the issues of mandatory vaccination rates and vaccination as a condition of entry, and these should be contained in the state’s roadmap out of lockdown.”

On Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews suggested that the government might consider making vaccination mandatory for those working in a wide range of sectors.

“Making it mandatory in a number of areas is very important. It won’t just be schools, it won’t just be teachers, it won’t just be nurses – it will be a whole range of different people because we think it’s [important]. I will make those announcements when I’m ready,” he said.

If the mandate is approved, Victoria will become the first state to make vaccines compulsory for the construction industry.
Photo: Safety initiatives key as more workers return by Victoria’s Big Build uses a creative commons license and is available HERE.

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