23rd April, 2020

Tips for tradies under COVID-19 lockdown: Staying compliant

In this first instalment of our three-part series, Kellie Byrnes looks at the lockdown situation for tradies and trades and construction businesses in both Australia and New Zealand.

If you’re a tradie trying to work out how to stay safe yourself, keep your workers healthy, and ensure your business remains afloat, staying up to date with current advice and legislation is a fact of life.

And, under lockdown, this has become more important than ever, as the difference between being ‘in the know’ or not could make or break your business.

You also need to take steps to insulate yourself as best you can from lockdown issues and find ways to continue bringing in jobs.

In this three-part series, we provide tips to help SME tradies in Australia and New Zealand during this difficult time.

Part One: Compliance and other work-related assistance

As governments, health advisors, and others work to keep people safe and limit the number of COVID-19 cases, lockdown rules and other restrictions change over time.

This means tradies must keep an eye on updates to ensure they’re remaining compliant with various regulations from week to week.

READ: Construction industry update for Australia and New Zealand

There are rules governing things such as who can work and where, the number of people allowed per space, hygiene procedures, and more.

Lockdown compliance and related information in Australia:

In Australia, learn the latest details by heading to the Australian Government’s website, where all the coronavirus news, updates, and advice is listed.

This site amalgamates a lot of information from across various government agencies.

There, you’ll also find links to each of the relevant government websites run by each state and territory.

Keep an eye on your local region’s updates for news pertinent to working in your area.

For as-it-happens details on COVID-19 cases in Australia, and requirements and conditions for isolation, quarantine, and testing, head to the Australian Government’s Department of Health website.

You can also read updates about restrictions, suggested workplace safety tips, and other information and tools on the website of the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

HIA recently released, for instance, the Making Space on Site: Site Induction for COVID-19.

The organisation created it to support home and renovation builders and trade contractors to manage all the new health and hygiene requirements.

According to a press release from Kristin Brookfield, HIA chief executive of industry policy, the solution helps workers “confirm they are taking the steps needed to protect themselves and their co-workers”.

HIA has also released, on their Making Space on Site hub, industry guidelines for managing COVID-19 on new housing sites and renovation and repair sites.

Plus, there’s a document for homeowners, to help construction personnel “give their customers peace of mind”.

Tradies can make use of the HIA’s new COVID-19 site induction tool, too.

Featuring a SafeScan QR Code, the process enables a contactless site induction for everyone who enters a building site.

Further Making Space on Site tools are forthcoming to support workers to deliver new homes and renovation projects.

Safe Work Australia has also gathered a lot of beneficial information in one spot for people providing house services.

Their website includes example email and phone scripts tradies can use when setting appointments or fielding enquires, to talk sensitively and effectively to clients about working in their homes.

Denita Wawn, chief executive of Master Builders Australia, highlighted the usefulness of Safe Work Australia’s guides in a press release.

Wawn said: “The Prime Minister has confirmed that building is an essential industry and is being kept open, but there is some confusion in the community about how this is applied to the home.”

The published information “means that the public can have confidence that they are doing the right thing in helping stop the spread of COVID-19, while still going ahead with their residential building projects”.

Lockdown compliance and related information in New Zealand:

For tradies in New Zealand, the lockdown’s much more severe, with only essential work able to be completed right now.

Tradies should keep an eye on the New Zealand Government’s specific COVID-19 website, which breaks down which businesses and projects are considered essential during the current Level 4 restrictions.

Note that there’s since been an update on easing lockdown restrictions to Level 3 announced this week.

READ: What will lockdown Level 3 mean for Kiwi businesses?

Make sure to regularly check out the Government’s central online resource for business information and guidance.

The website covers a raft of information and links about health and safety, workplace operations, employment, and the latest news and updates.

Also, utilise the Building System Performance (BSP) branch’s website for building and construction sector guidance.

It’s run by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

It provides policy and technical advice for the sector plus new COVID-19 tips and updates, including how to prepare your business for different Alert Levels.

In Part Two of the series, due next week, we’ll provide a roundup of current stimulus options available in Australia and New Zealand that tradies can take advantage of to help keep their businesses and bank accounts afloat.