NSW Con­struc­tion Indus­try Shut Down – Par­tial re-open­ing as of 31 July 2021

On Wednes­day 28 July 2021, the NSW Pre­mier took steps to re-open cer­tain con­struc­tion sites in parts of Greater Syd­ney fol­low­ing the ear­li­er con­struc­tion indus­try shut down orders which came into effect on 17 July 2021.

Amend­ments have been made by the Pub­lic Health (COVID-19 Tem­po­rary Move­ment and Gath­er­ing Restric­tions) Amend­ment (No 17) Order 2021 effec­tive from 31 July 2021 (the Amend­ed Orders).

In brief:

  • cer­tain works can recom­mence on con­struc­tion sites which are deemed both unoc­cu­pied and occu­pied sites out­side of affect­ed areas’.*
  • While the restric­tions on unoc­cu­pied con­struc­tion sites have been relaxed some­what, there are still heavy restric­tions at occu­pied places of residence .
  • Works per­formed at occu­pied places of res­i­dence must be nec­es­sary’ and pre­scribed work’ as defined by clause 22B(4) and (5) of the Amend­ed Orders.

Work on con­struc­tion sites:

  • In areas not deemed as affect­ed areas’, it appears that gen­er­al con­struc­tion works on con­struc­tion sites’ can recom­mence pro­vid­ed that work­ers com­ply with the req­ui­site con­di­tions on per­for­mance of those works and com­ply with all Covid-19 safe­ty pro­to­cols as stat­ed under the Amend­ed Orders.
  • All works per­formed on an unoc­cu­pied con­struc­tion site, not in an affect­ed area’, must be per­formed in accor­dance with a Reg­is­tered Covid-19 Safe­ty Plan.
  • A plan must be writ­ten by both Principal/​Owners and Contractors.
  • Pru­dent Con­trac­tors should, mov­ing for­ward, use the Safe­ty Plan as part of a con­trac­tor’s dai­ly tool box talk and fur­ther, should form part of the dai­ly Job Safe­ty Analy­sis plan.
  • This would assist employ­ers and Head Con­trac­tors ensur­ing that staff on site are aware of the Safe­ty Plan and any updates each day before com­menc­ing works.
  • While not manda­to­ry, we would also sug­gest that per­sons per­form­ing works on occu­pied con­struc­tion sites should also Reg­is­ter a Covid-19 Safe­ty Plan in order to ensure the safe­ty of them­selves and those per­sons around them.
  • For those seek­ing assis­tance the fol­low­ing link pro­vides all nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion for Prin­ci­pals and Con­trac­tors relat­ing to sub­mis­sion of a Covid-19 Safe­ty Plan: https://​www​.nsw​.gov​.au/​c​o​v​i​d​-​19​/​c​o​v​i​d​-​s​a​f​e​/​c​o​n​s​t​r​u​c​t​i​o​n​-​a​n​d​-​t​r​a​d​e​s​p​eople
  • Omit­ted from the Amend­ed Orders are any con­di­tions relat­ing to non-res­i­den­tial occu­pied con­struc­tion sites.
  • It is pre­sumed for the health and safe­ty of all per­sons that these types of works should be per­formed under a hybrid cat­e­gori­sa­tion of unoc­cu­pied and occu­pied con­struc­tion works. Accord­ing­ly, where the Orders make no com­ment on these types of works, we sug­gest the work­ing con­di­tions should be rel­a­tive to the same restric­tions on occu­pied res­i­den­tial premis­es being a max­i­mum of 2 peo­ple per room and a max­i­mum of 5 peo­ple in total in larg­er indi­vid­ual areas with any occu­pants not being in the same space as per­sons per­form­ing works. 

* Please note there are no for­mal guide­lines pro­vid­ed in this regard.

Work at places of residence 

Clause 22B of the Amend­ed Orders pro­vides that a per­son can­not enter a place of res­i­dence to car­ry out pre­scribed works unless those works are: 

  • nec­es­sary
  • in a non-affect­ed area*; and
  • no more than 2 work­ers are vis­it­ing the place of res­i­dence to car­ry out any work (what so ever); and
  • no per­son oth­er than anoth­er work­er is present in the same room as the works are being under­tak­en, unless the works are tak­ing place in an out­door’ set­ting where a max­i­mum of 5 works may attend.

Nec­es­sary works

Works able to be under­tak­en at a place of res­i­dence are still lim­it­ed and only include works where:

  • the work is urgent­ly required to be car­ried out;
  • to ensure the health, safe­ty or secu­ri­ty of the place of res­i­dence or per­sons resid­ing at the place of res­i­dence, or
  • because of an emer­gency, or

the work is: 

  • for the instal­la­tion, main­te­nance or repair of an essen­tial util­i­ty, includ­ing a water, gas, elec­tric­i­ty, inter­net, tele­vi­sion or telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vice, or
  • for fire pro­tec­tion and safe­ty, or

for pre­scribed work that is clean­ing or repairs and main­te­nance — the work is car­ried out:

  • at a place or res­i­dence that is unoc­cu­pied when the work is being car­ried out, and
  • because it is nec­es­sary for the sale or lease of the place of residence.

By way of exam­ple, this means that if you are occu­py­ing your home dur­ing ren­o­va­tions, works at your home can­not take place unless they are nec­es­sary pre­scribed works.

Pre­scribed works

Pre­scribed works include:

  • clean­ing;
  • repairs and maintenance;
  • alter­ations and addi­tions to building;
  • work car­ried out as part of a trade, includ­ing elec­tri­cal work or plumbing.
  • Work­ers per­form­ing works on con­struc­tions sites or places of res­i­dences as set out above, must not be from an affect­ed area’ or trav­el into a affect­ed area’ unless they are deemed an autho­rised person.

Work­ers from/​to an affect­ed area

  • For those work­ers won­der­ing if they are able to attend their con­struc­tion sites out­side of their LGA, please see the fol­low­ing link which iden­ti­fies autho­rised per­sons who are eli­gi­ble to leave their LGA. https://​www​.nsw​.gov​.au/​c​o​v​i​d​-​19​/​r​u​l​e​s​/​a​u​t​h​o​r​i​s​e​d​-​w​o​rkers
  • The works which are per­mit­ted on a con­struc­tion site with­in an affect­ed area’ are as follows:
  • to ensure the safe­ty or secu­ri­ty of the con­struc­tion site;
  • to deal with envi­ron­men­tal risks;
  • to main­tain and ensure the integri­ty of crit­i­cal plant, equip­ment or assets, includ­ing par­tial­ly com­plet­ed works, that would oth­er­wise deteriorate;
  • to receive deliv­er­ies of sup­plies that would oth­er­wise deteriorate;
  • to main­tain pub­lic utilities;
  • to ensure the safe oper­a­tion of exist­ing trans­port infrastructure;
  • by or on behalf of NSW Health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • because of an emergency.

Works in an affect­ed area

At this time only per­sons locat­ed with­in an affect­ed area may per­form works in that spe­cif­ic area. Accord­ing­ly, where the above works may need to be per­formed, you will need to con­sid­er whether your usu­al con­trac­tors have capac­i­ty to per­form those works. 

The above list­ed works are very sim­i­lar to those works which were per­mit­ted under the pre­vi­ous clause 24AB(1) of the Orders which affect­ed all of Greater Syd­ney. Accord­ing­ly, we refer to our arti­cle dat­ed 21 July 2021 which breaks down what works can be per­formed in this context. 


Per­for­mance of Works in rela­tion to Stra­ta Schemes 

  • For those per­sons either resid­ing in or man­ag­ing Stra­ta Schemes, it appears that the same rules apply for both sin­gle dwelling and mul­ti dwelling occu­pied res­i­den­tial premises.
  • At this time, the only delin­eation of what works are per­mit­ted any what is not, is focused sole­ly on whether the build­ing resides in an affect­ed area’ not­ing that there is a require­ment for per­sons in com­mon prop­er­ty’ areas in stra­ta schemes wear masks at all times.
  • If you are a con­trac­tor con­tract­ed to per­form nec­es­sary pre­scribed works in an indi­vid­ual lot in a Stra­ta Scheme, it appears that ren­o­va­tion works may be per­formed but you will be restrict­ed to a max­i­mum of two per­sons per­form­ing those works with­in any lot and a max­i­mum of 5 per­sons with­in com­mon prop­er­ty areas, pro­vid­ed those works are not deemed nec­es­sary works.
  • If your con­trac­tor lives with­in an affect­ed area’ then they are not per­mit­ted to per­form works unless they are a deemed, autho­rised person.
  • In so far as your own­ers cor­po­ra­tion’s right to refuse access to indi­vid­ual lots in a stra­ta scheme to Con­trac­tors, you should con­sult the rel­e­vant by-laws and liaise with your stra­ta man­ag­er to deter­mine whether your scheme is able to pre­vent cer­tain per­sons from pass­ing through the com­mon prop­er­ty to gain access to your indi­vid­ual lot to per­form the pre­scribed works.

Dis­claimer: The above is not to be con­sid­ered legal advice and that you should seek your own inde­pen­dent legal advice should you have any queries regard­ing the above or the new­ly amend­ed Gov­ern­ment Orders. 

*Note these amend­ments do not apply to sites locat­ed in the affect­ed areas’ as iden­ti­fied in our ear­li­er article: