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Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Victorian Domestic Building Sites

July 16, 2020

HIA has received a number of queries from members asking about the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks, on domestic building sites. The questions appear to have arisen from updated advice from the Premier and Chief Health Officer late last week:

“….to recommend anyone living in metro Melbourne or Mitchell Shire to wear a face covering or cloth mask when leaving home for one of the four permitted reasons – where it is not possible to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other people”

The government has also said that:

“the use of masks is not mandatory and that Victorians living in metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are now recommended to wear face masks in situations where they are leaving their home and physical distancing is not possible – to help slow the spread of coronavirus in the community.”

It is important to appreciate that commercial building sites and multi-storey residential building sites have very different working conditions to low rise domestic building sites. On the latter, there are usually only small numbers of trades working on the site from time to time completing discrete tasks. This means that measures needed for larger sites may not be relevant for smaller building sites.

How does this advice impact domestic building sites?

The government has not mandated the use of face masks but has recommended it.  This recommendation would apply to workplaces where, or when, people are unable to maintain physical distancing.

HIA therefore recommends following this advice for domestic building sites - as per government guidelines that it is appropriate for workers to use PPE including face masks when social distancing and other requirements may not be met.

One example would be where two trades are performing a single task that could not be undertaken by a single person and they cannot consistently maintain the 1.5 m separation to undertake that task.

HIA advises our members to continue to follow all of the requirements of the Making Space on Site Industry Guidelines for domestic building sites, which provide advice about ensuring the governments social distancing criteria are met at all times.

The Guidelines provide advice on the use of PPE on domestic sites which includes:

  • Providing all workers with access to personal protective equipment including gloves, masks and eye protection appropriate to the work they are performing on site
  • Ensuring all contractors entering the site have their own personal protective equipment.

Contact a HIA Workplace Adviser

1300 650 620