Melbourne Construction Worker Tests Positive for Coronavirus


Australia’s first coronavirus case on a construction site has been confirmed at a Parkville site in Melbourne, placing pressure on the industry's case for sites to stay open.

It's understood that the subcontractor working on the Kane Constructions project, at the University of Melbourne's new student precinct project, tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from overseas.

In a statement released from the CFMEU, the employee went to work shortly after returning from overseas, adding that this was prior to the self-isolation policies put in place from Monday 16 March for international travellers.

The worker, who returned from England, was on site for two days before feeling unwell.

“All employees who were working on site were contacted straight away. Those who were identified as being in ‘close contact’ with the diagnosed employee were forced to quarantine for 14-days,” the statement reads.

Kane Constructions was contacted for commentary.

The statement said that a hospital-grade, specialist cleaning company undertook a thorough on-site decontamination when the site was shut down.

▲ An employee of a subcontractor at the Kane Constructions project, at the Melbourne University's Parkville campus site, has been diagnosed with coronavirus.
▲ An employee of a subcontractor at the Kane Constructions project, at the Melbourne University's Parkville campus site, has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

The construction industry employs up to 1.2 million people across Australia.

In an “unprecedented” collaboration, unions and the construction industry sector united last week in a push to keep sites across Australia open.

The group sent a release on the importance of ensuring strict health measures in place, one day before releasing a media statement on the confirmed Covid-19 case.

Master Builders Victoria released an updated set of guidelines on Thursday for employers and workers managing the threat of Covid-19.

The guidelines include best practices hygiene, multiple start and finish times, and required social distancing practices on construction sites, such as gatherings in queues at hoists and lifts strictly not allowed.

For outdoor work, workers are to keep 1.5 metres to two metres from other workers, and for indoor work the guideline says there should be no more than one worker per 4 square metres.

“It is evident that the building and construction industry in Victoria is likely to be hit by a significant downturn, the potential for which cannot be underestimated,” the guidelines read.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is expected to push for stage three lockdowns, as the state’s number of confirmed cases increased to 685, as of Sunday.

The number of Australia’s Covid-19 cases has grown faster in recent days, on Sunday, surpassing 3800.

Currently, Australia's construction sites are “exempt” from the list of businesses to shut down under current restrictions.


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