What we can all do to keep our workers safe, and our industry at work
Industry experts speaking at an Infrastructure NSW webinar yesterday had some sage advice on what we can do to keep ourselves and our colleagues safe and our worksites operating.
The webinar was focused on public workplace health and safety and included presentations from INSW CEO, Simon Draper; Sydney Metro Deputy Executive Director, Health, Safety and Security – Projects, Louise Howard; Roberts Pizzarotti CEO Alsion Mirams; and Safework NSW Deputy Secretary Better Regulation, Rose Webb.
Although directed at NSW industry representatives, the webinar’s key messages should resonate strongly across state and territory borders. In fact, ‘consistency of approach’ was one of the most significant take-outs from the webinar.
Participants heard the construction industry was well placed to continue operating through the COVID-19 crisis, chiefly because access to construction worksites was tightly controlled and the industry had a very strong workplace health and safety culture.
They were also told COVID-19 had to be managed as a workplace hazard and mitigated like any other health and safety issue. The general public would be closely watching industries that continued working through the pandemic, so it was contingent on the construction industry to unite in putting measures in place to protect its workforce and manage public perceptions.
Among the range of practical suggestions that came out of the webinar:
Maintain safe social distancing on worksites
Consider staggering pre-starts, lunch breaks and access to change sheds.
- Provide extra change/lunch sheds and clean after each cycle of use.
- Mark out four-square metre spaces in common areas (like lunch rooms) and limit the number of people in and around equipment, such as hoists and site vehicles.
- Can you host induction and tool-box meetings on-line or outdoors?
- Be especially conscious of social distancing in areas of the worksite where you can be seen by the public.
Discourage use of public transport to get to work
- Encourage employees to drive to work (but not to car pool).
- Negotiate a flat parking rate for employees in nearby parking stations.
Be proactive on health and safety
- Consider having non-contact digital thermometers on site and (if and when more readily available) COVID-19 test kits.
- Don’t stock up or overuse masks and other PPE unless it's legitimately required (ie. for site risks such as silica, or if an employee presents with symptoms and you need to quarantine and send home).
- Consider having an occupational physician on site.
- Encourage employees to go home or stay home if feeling unwell. (A guarantee of pay continuance until they get a doctor's certificate or return to work will ensure their decision-making is based solely on health rather than financial considerations).
- Notwithstanding current supply shortages, keep plenty of sanitiser on site and encourage its use, particularly on arrival or when leaving the site.
- Promote your increased expectations around health and hygiene on the worksite. Have an honest conversation with employees – ‘it’s in your interest to do the right thing so you can keep working and draw a wage to support your family’.
Have regular, honest conversations with your client
- Discuss what measures you are putting in place to mitigate the COVID-19 risk, and what impacts these will have on site productivity.
At yesterday’s webinar it was also announced that Infrastructure NSW had established a joint government/industry working group to monitor and share good worksite practices.
Time is ripe for transport pricing reform: Infrastructure Victoria
Infrastructure Victoria has released new research that demonstrates a comprehensive change to the pricing of roads, public transport and parking is key to motivating people to change their time and mode of travel.
The work also shows that when concessions and subsidies are included to ensure fairness and equity, up to 85 per cent of Victorians could pay less for transport.
The research is contained in a new report, Good move – fixing transport congestion. It brings together new transport modelling, international case studies and community opinion to establish strong evidence for comprehensive reform of the State's transport pricing system.
Infrastructure Victoria Deputy CEO Dr Jonathan Spear says there are three big problems with the current transport pricing system – problems that can all be addressed if Victorians changed the way they paid and travelled.
“Firstly, we have our usual state of congestion on roads and over-crowding on public transport right across the system, then a reliance on new services and new construction to address that congestion, and finally we have no incentive for people to change their mode or time of travel,” he says.
“Our work shows introducing variable pricing across all modes reduces congestion, motivates people to change their time and mode, and also gets the most out of significant government investment in new construction and increased services.”
The paper takes an illustrative approach, presenting various pricing scenarios across roads, public transport and parking.
“Our work shows that with transport network pricing, average speeds in inner Melbourne during the morning peak increase by about one third and under all scenarios, most people are better off in terms of price and travel conditions,” Dr Spear says.
The paper outlines a number of options for government to consider ahead of major reform, including: trials of variable pricing to reflect time of day, mode and distance; introduction of distance-based pricing for electric vehicles; trials of variable pricing for on-street parking; and a full-scale trial of cordon charging in inner Melbourne and other congestion hot spots.
“We think the time to test some of this thinking is now,” Dr Spear says.
“The community has told us they are ready for a change and given us practical and easy to implement conditions to consider in making this change. We also are seeing a groundswell of support from industry, all calling for change.
“Government has invested significantly in extra services and construction to help ease congestion. A change to transport pricing across roads, public transport and parking complements, and makes the most of, this investment to deliver a better, more efficient and cost-effective transport network for all Victorians.”
Following further consultation and research, Infrastructure Victoria will develop further recommendations on transport network pricing for inclusion in the update to its 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy. The draft strategy will be released in late 2020, with a final strategy due in mid-2021.
Bunbury Ring Road edging closer to start line with shortlist announced
Two consortia have been shortlisted to design and construct the $852 million Bunbury Outer Ring Road in WA.
The two are:
- the Forrest Alliance (comprising CPB Contractors, Carey MC, Densford Civil, GHD and BG&E),and
- Southwest Connex (comprising Acciona, NRW Contracting, MACA Civil, AECOM and Aurecon).
It's anticipated an alliance contract will be awarded before the end of the year, with construction to begin in 2021, subject to environmental and heritage approvals.
Main Roads WA will also be calling for early tenders soon for the supply of an initial quantity of crushed rock road base. This will give local suppliers time to identify potential material sources, plant and personnel requirements for the early stages of the project.
SA fast-tracking infrastructure to support jobs
New major infrastructure projects will be fast-tracked as part of the South Australian Government’s $1 billion economic stimulus package to support local jobs and businesses.
The State Government has announced that $120 million of new infrastructure projects will be fast tracked and support 165 jobs, including;
- $52 million for targeted regional road network repair and improvement, including on the Stuart Highway, Yorke Highway, Dukes Highway and Riddoch Highway;
- $35 million to rehabilitate and resurface the South Eastern Freeway between the Tollgate and Crafers;
- $15 million for Heysen Tunnel refit and safety upgrade;
- $12 million for a higher capacity North-South Freight Route by-passing Adelaide; and,
- $6 million to seal Adventure Way and Innamincka Airport Road.
This $120 million infrastructure spend builds on the $21.5 million worth of construction contracts released earlier this month to upgrade almost 200 kilometres of Cleve Road and Browns Well Highway.
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll said tenders had already been released for the $15 million Heysen Tunnel refit and $6 million Adventure Way and Innamincka Airport Road sealing to get these projects underway as soon as possible.
“We are trying to get these projects out the door as quickly as possible to support more South Australian jobs and businesses as we deal with the impacts of the coronavirus,” said Minister Knoll.
“These projects will help fix hundreds of kilometres of roads and highways, improve road safety and help save lives on our country roads.”