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FAQs for returning to sites in the ACT

All the latest information and guidelines for returning to worksites in the ACT including occupied and unoccupied sites, COVIDSafe Plan, COVID marshal and travel outside ACT for work.

Permitted building work in the ACT

What residential building work is allowed during the lockdown?

Small scale residential building sites can operate from 10 September including:

  1. New dwelling sites (unoccupied)
  2. Multiple dwelling sites (unoccupied)
  3. Unoccupied and occupied home renovations started prior to 12 August for outdoor work and indoor work
  4. Occupied home renovations started from 10 September for outdoor work only
  5. Structural landscaping and
  6. Urgent repair and maintenance services.

What other building work is allowed?

  • Small scale construction projects less than 1,500m2 or three storeys and under can operate from 10 September including commercial building work, residential building work, industrial building work and other small building work.
  • Large scale construction projects can operate from 3 September including:
    • Buildings (as per DA approval) to be at completion four or more storeys high (excluding the basement); or
    • sites larger than 1,500m2 Gross Floor Area (inclusive of all floors).
  • Civil construction for the construction of public roads and the subdivision of new suburbs. 

How many people can work on a small residential building site?

There are different worker density limits for occupied and unoccupied small residential building sites.

Unoccupied residential building sites and unoccupied renovation sites have a density limit of the lesser of 1 person per 4m2 OR five people plus a site supervisor for each individual class 1 dwelling.

Occupied renovation sites were work commenced prior to 12 August a density limit of five people plus a site supervisor is allowed with a maximum of two people allowed in any indoor part of the building.

Occupied renovation sites commenced on or after 10 September must ensure that only outdoor work is carried out and that the density limit of five people plus a site supervisor is maintained. No new indoor work will be permitted to commence at an occupied renovation site where work had not started before lockdown.

Outdoor work refers to renovations that are taking place in a space that is not fully enclosed, which is likely to include work of the scale of an extension, without a roof or wall. The ‘outdoor’ work space must be entirely separated from the occupied part of the house.

Workers operating on any occupied renovation site must ensure they are physically separated from the residents of the home at all times.

What manufacturing work is allowed during lockdown?

From 3 September, manufacturing, fabrication, testing, assembly, professional, regulatory, off-site admin and equipment supply businesses are allowed to operate where those activities facilitate permitted construction activities. 

Who is allowed to work on a building site in the ACT?

All construction workers in the ACT, and NSW construction workers who live in the ACT/NSW border region, are permitted to work on building sites in the ACT. All workers must have a valid ACT Construction Industry Worker Permit when working in the ACT. 

The ACT/NSW border region includes 10 NSW postcodes: 

  • Gunning
  • Collector
  • Murrumbateman
  • Yass
  • Binalong
  • Urriarra
  • Wallaroo
  • Jerrabomberra
  • Queanbeyan
  • Googong
  • Karabar
  • Sutton
  • Gundaroo
  • Bungedore
  • Captains Flat
  • Bredbo and Michelago. 

I’m doing a renovation in an unoccupied apartment how many workers can attend the site?

HIA is seeking further clarification around renovations in apartments. At this stage, the building is occupied and as a result no work should occur within an apartment. 

Can we install interior fittings and fixtures such as curtains and blinds?

It depends. 

Completing interior fittings and fixtures at unoccupied new homes and renovation sites and occupied indoor renovation work that started before 12 August and requires the installation of these products to complete a contracted purchase can recommence. The current worker density requirements should be observed as required for the type of building site where the work is occurring. 

Carrying out this type of work as a standalone task would not be considered residential building work and HIA understands would not be permitted at this time. 


What is an ACT COVIDSafe Plan?

A COVIDSafe Plan is a mandatory document that must be prepared for all building sites – large and small. 

The plan sets out the obligations of the builder (or principal contractor) to manage a building site to ensure it is COVID safe. The plan also sets out the safety measures that must be adopted by every person working on the site to reduce the risk of COVID-19. 

Regulators like WorkSafeACT and ACT policing can ask for a copy of the COVIDSafe Plan at any time.

Who needs to prepare a COVIDSafe Plan? 

The builder/principal contractor is responsible for preparing a COVIDSafe Plan for every building site that they are responsible for. 

HIA’s Guide to preparing an ACT COVIDSafe Plan can assist members wanting to prepare their own COVIDSafe Plan. 

HIA’s ACT COVIDSafe Plan for small residential building sites provides a ‘standard form’ plan that addresses the Government requirements and consolidates all the necessary answers in a simple to read, user friendly format. 

I’m a trade contractor doing work at a residential building site – do I need to prepare a COVIDSafe Plan? 

No. The builder is responsible for preparing a COVIDSafe Plan and the safety rules apply to all trade contractors and other workers entering the building site. 

Every person entering the site must comply with the COVID safety measures set out in the COVIDSafe Plan prepared by the builder. 

What safety measures need to be in place on a residential building site?

The safety measures on site must be those set out in the COVIDSafe Plan for the site. 

The builder/principal contractor is responsible for ensuring a compliant COVIDSafe Plan is in place for every site before starts. The builder is responsible for setting up the necessary safety measures and monitoring the measures when work is being carried out. 

The COVID safety measures that must be addressed included but are not limited to: 

  • ensuring a copy of your COVIDSafe Plan readily available on request by an authorised inspector
  • check-In CBR App QR Code 
  • screening workers coming to site
  • recording site inductions for workers coming to site
  • ensuring physical distancing requirements are met (1.5 metres where possible)
  • ensuring worker density limits are met to suit the type of building work 
  • hygiene measures are in place
  • personal Protective Equipment and Face Masks (PPE) are available
  • a COVID Marshal is designated
  • deliveries to site are managed in accordance with the COVIDSafe Plan.

What building sites need a check-in CBR code? 

All unoccupied residential building sites, all large building sites and all other non-residential building sites must have a check-in CBR code. 

A check-in CBR code is not required at an occupied residence (renovation) site. 

Any business carrying out work at an occupied residence must keep a record of every worker that has attended the worksite and at what time. These records need to be readily available on request. HIA’s Site Induction for the ACT provides an option for members not required to have a check-in CBR code. 

I’ve applied for a check-in CBR QR code but still haven’t received it – can I start work?

Some members have reported delays being allocated a QR code from the ACT Government. In response to a request from HIA, ACT Health has confirmed that a site requiring a check-in CBR QR code and does not have one yet can reopen on Friday providing it meets the following:

  • an application has been made for a QR code.  The acknowledgement of the application should be retained as evidence, if requested.
  • some other mechanism is used to gain the same data that would be useable by ACT Health in case of a positive case (i.e. site sign in/sign out register or other electronic sign in). The HIA Site Induction QR code will satisfy this requirement.

What safety measures do I need to follow when I am on a construction site? 

Employees and subcontractors must abide by the COVID safe plan for that particular site. 

The following are some key ways to comply whilst on site: 

  1. Check in using the CBR App (if required)
  2. Provide relevant and accurate COVID information before entering site 
  3. Physical distancing of at least 1.5m wherever possible
  4. Wash or sanitise before entering and exiting the worksite; and
  5. Wear face masks at all times unless it is not safe to do so or if you have an exemption according to ACT requirements. Read for more information.

When do I need to wear a face mask? 

Every person leaving their home in the ACT must carry a face mask with them at all times, including in workplaces.

A person is not required to wear a face mask if they have a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, which makes wearing a face mask detrimental to their condition.

There are some specific situations where a person may remove their face mask. In relation to people working on a building site, the following situations are exempt:

  • when consuming food, drink or medicine
  • when at work and the nature of the work means that wearing a face mask creates a risk to health and safety
  • if necessary for the provision of goods or service
  • if asked to remove a face mask to ascertain identity (eg if asked by a police officer)
  • when performing essential work in an outdoor space where no other people are present
  • when performing essential work in an indoor space: 
    • in an officer where no other people are present; or
    • in a seated position or standing position at a workstation in an office; and
    • at least 1.5 metres from any other person. 
  • if alone in a vehicle or with other members of the same household only; or
  • because of an emergency.

It is important to ensure you have a proper mask or face covering that fits securely around the face and covers the nose and mouth to provide you with protection against infection. A scarf or bandana is not a face mask.

What is a COVID Marshal?

A COVID Marshal is a person designated for a building site that is responsible for the day to day management of COVID safety measures on a building site. A COVID Marshal may be the builder, the site supervisor or some other employee of the builder. 

A COVID Marshal must have completed the Infection Control Awareness Training. The Australian Government has made this training available online at no cost. 

What building sites need a COVID Marshal?

Every building site is required to have a nominated COVID Marshal. The contact details for this person should be displayed and clearly visible at the site entrance or property boundary. 

An employee of the builder can be appointed as the COVID Marshal, such as site supervisors. 

Does the COVID Marshal need to be onsite at all times?

No. However they are responsible at all times for managing and checking workers are meeting safety requirements when work is occurring.

If I am attending an occupied residence for a short time (less than an hour or two), do I need a COVID safe plan?

It depends.

Every building sites where building or construction work is occurring must have a COVIDSafe Plan. The builder is responsible for preparing and managing the Plan. 

A COVIDSafe Plan is not required where a worker attends an occupied residence for repair or maintenance work which occurs in a short time frame. The business must keep a record of all workers carrying out this type of work and attending occupied homes for a short period of time.

Travelling in and around the ACT and surrounding NSW region

Who is required to have a worker permit?

Anyone that is working on a construction site in the ACT must have a valid Construction Industry Worker Permit. The primary purpose of the permit is to assist authorities in the efficient management of checking people are authorised to leave home (being ACT & NSW border region residents) and travel within the ACT to a building site.

This also includes any staff required to attend a workplace related to authorised construction work. This may include attending a business office (for work that cannot be done from home) and for or industry professionals such as architects, building certifiers and engineers.

The Government has issued a standard Construction Industry Worker Permit form that must be used. It can be found under the ‘Construction Sector - information for industry’ section, near the bottom of the page.

The form can be customised electronically with your company logo or put on letterhead, and can be carried either in a paper or electronic format.

Employers must complete this form for all employees. 

Independent contractors/sole traders can complete a form for themselves and must carry it at all times when working away from home.

Do we need a separate ‘Work Permit’ for every site or can we nominate ‘various sites in the ACT’ on the form?

Employers and subcontractors are recommended to list all sites they intend to visit on any given day. 

HIA understands that sometimes unexpected work can arise and as a result at this stage, it would be vital to retain additional blank work permits that can be filled out as required. 

I live in the ACT – can I attend a worksite within NSW?

Yes. From 10 September, ACT residents that work on small residential building sites (which are open in the ACT) are permitted to work on a NSW building site. 

ACT Public Health orders apply for travel between your home and the ACT border meaning you will need to carry a valid ACT Construction Industry Worker Permit while in the ACT. While in NSW you must comply with all NSW COVID-19 restrictions and ACT requirements.

You can only travel to the 10 nominated postcodes in the ACT/NSW border bubble. If you need to travel beyond these 10 postcodes into other parts of NSW, the ACT will deem that you have entered regional NSW and you may be subject to other stay at home requirements in addition to the ACT restrictions. 

Interstate travel requirements currently apply for anyone entering NSW from the ACT, which includes filling out a Declaration Form.

I live in NSW (outside the ACT/NSW border bubble) – can I attend a worksite in ACT?

Only if you have an ACT Government exemption to enter the ACT for essential work. 

There is an exemption process for workers across all industries from outside the ACT/NSW border bubble. However, the ACT Government has advised that these will not be approved for construction workers for the foreseeable future.


Am I able to arrange to meet with new or existing clients at our business premises to discuss their proposed works or current contract?

No. Under the ‘stay at home’ direction a person can only leave home for essential work, therefore clients meeting with a builder or trade contractor away from their home would not be allowed.

Am I able to arrange to meet with new clients at their home to discuss their proposed works for tendering or quoting?

No. Currently visitors to a home are limited to those undertaking ‘essential work’. HIA understands that despite reopening of building sites, quoting for new work would not qualify as construction work. Any new work needs to be arranged via virtual meetings at this time, noting that no new indoor work at an occupied residence is permitted to commence at this time.

Can clients attend the new home building site for a progress inspection or final handover inspection?

It depends. 

The attendance of clients at a progress inspection for a new home building site is unlikely to be a permitted reason to leave home. Progress or general inspections are normally limited during construction under the home building contract and also under work health and safety laws. Therefore HIA recommends any inspections of building work during construction be conducted by other means such as virtual meeting platforms (Facetime, Webex, Skype, Zoom, etc.). 

Where there is a contractual (legal) obligation for a client to attend an inspection, such as final inspection/handover of a completed home, a person is permitted to leave home to attend a premises “as required or authorised by law” and for “moving to a new place of residence”. On this basis a final inspection may be a permitted reason to leave home. 

Physical distancing and other requirements should be strictly adhered to and the inspection should be limited to as short a time as possible. 

Do I need to be vaccinated to go on a construction site?

No. There is no requirement in the ACT for workers to be vaccinated before they can carry out building work. 

Can I take deliveries on site?

Yes. Building supplies and materials can be delivered to sites. COVID safety rules apply to the delivery driver while on site. 

Do delivery drivers need to check in onsite when delivering supplies and materials?

If the delivery driver exits the vehicle, they will need to check-in to the site and follow all other COVID safety measures in place at the site. In addition they must maintain a 3 metre distance from all other workers on the site at the time. 

Can I carpool to and from worksites?

Car-pooling to and from the worksite is discouraged for people who do not live within the same household. 

Workers travelling in a work vehicle during work hours to perform their normal activities are permitted. 

Can a building certifier or an engineer come to site? 

Yes. Since 3 September professional service providers such as building certifiers and engineers have been permitted to attend building sites where work is permitted to occur. At this time, HIA believes that their attendance on site would count as one worker for the purposes of meeting the new worker density limits. HIA is seeking urgent advice on this scenario and we will advise members on any updates when available. 

What do I do if there is a positive case of COVID-19 on site?

Under the COVIDSafe Plan, the builder should have in place an action plan for a situation where a worker advises them that they have tested positive to COVID-19. Information to assist members prepare an action plan is available in HIA’s Responding to a positive case of COVID-19 in your business information sheet. 

The ACT Building and Construction Industry COVID-19 requirements also require the head contractor to contact WorkSafe ACT immediately on becoming aware that an employee, an independent contractor or a contractor’s employee has received a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. 

Sole traders are also required to contact WorkSafe ACT immediately on receiving a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. 

WorkSafe ACT have an online form to submit a Notifiable Incident. 

More questions?

HIA members can contact our Workplace Services and Building Services team with any questions you have in relation to the restrictions on residential building work in the ACT.

To find out more, contact HIA's Contracts and Compliance team

Email us

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