Across the world, businesses and communities have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with the Australian Construction industry being classed as an essential service, this sector has certainly fared better than others. The industry, for example, has not been subject to closure at any point during the pandemic so far. But this does not mean that construction has not experienced huge uncertainty and disruption, with the worst hit areas of the sector being residential building and commercial construction.
At the start of the pandemic, Peter Burn, Head of Policy at the Australian Industry (Ai) Group, stated that ‘the fallout from Covid-19 played havoc with the […] construction sector in April.’ According to the Australian Performance of Construction Index (PCI) Survey, construction activity had dropped by 16.3 points to 21.6 in the same month. Readings below 50 indicate contraction in activity, meaning that the industry was experiencing its lowest ebb on record since the PCI Survey began in 2005. With a severe economic impact expected, early reports predicted a contraction of up to 40%, once current projects in the pipeline had been completed. On top of this, Master Builders Australia estimated at least 82,000 job losses across the industry from 14 March 2020 to August 2020.
However, the nine Australian governments were mindful of setting out regulations that would promote construction activity, whilst keeping those on site safe and preventing them from becoming a major source of spread. Additionally, the construction sector itself was very proactive in creating Covid- secure work environments. The Making Space on Site Guidelines, produced by the Housing Industry Association, is a great example of this. Adopted by residential construction sites across Australia, these guidelines stipulate that, for a Covid-secure workplace, employers must:
• Ensure the governments’ social distancing criteria is met.
• Ensure the governments’ self-isolation rules are met.
• Provide adequate hygiene facilities on site for all workers.
• Ensure all workers have access to appropriate personal protective equipment.
• Minimise overlaps and numbers of people on site.
• Update and consult workers on latest government requirements.
Australia’s handling of the pandemic has been commendable and, as a result, a December 2020 Financial Times article announced that the country had exited its first recession in almost three decades, with the economy growing by 3.3% in the September quarter. With this growth set to continue over 2021, a Research and Markets report predicts the industry to record a CAGR of 5.4% and reach $253.1 billion by 2024.
A number of infrastructure projects are currently bolstering the industry, including the $16.8 billion WestConnex project in Sydney. The government are also investing in further billion-dollar projects whilst the real estate sector and housing market are beginning to boom. News.com.au reported in January 2021 that, according to LinkedIn, the most in-demand jobs are construction site managers, estimators, heavy equipment operators, construction workers and forklift operators, with Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane being the top locations. All of this points to 2021 being a great year for the industry, despite the Covid economic shock.
However, the increase of on site activity also means the return of on site health hazards. As a result of the pandemic, we are far more aware of our respiratory health and more conscious of protecting it. Therefore, now more than ever, it is vital to have the correct solutions in place to combat toxic airborne contaminants and keep workers safe. A recent NHEWS survey reported that 39% of Australian workers are exposed to airborne hazards in the workplace and that 23% of these workers were provided with no form of hazard control. Now is the time to change these statistics.
RVT’s 25+ years of experience as specialists in dust control, fume control, noise control and ventilation, mean that we can design the right controls for you. Whatever health hazard you are facing, RVT’s technical specialists are here to support from the beginning to the end of your project and can tailor solutions to your specific needs. Our local team of consultants are also on hand to perform a free site assessment. If you would like to book an assessment, then please click here.
We believe that everyone deserves to go home healthy, and our wide range of dust, fume and ventilation controls can help to achieve this.
View our Dustex Dust Control here
View our Ravex Fume Control here and our Exhaust Control here
View our Ventex Ventilation Solutions here
On site hazards don’t only affect your respiratory health. With construction activity in progress, workers will also be exposed to dangerous levels of site noise. Safe Work Australia estimates that 4,700 claims are made each year for noise-induced hearing loss. To see how you can protect your workers’ hearing, view our Soundex Noise Control here.
Australian Industry and Skills Committee, see here
The Construction Index, see here
Master Builders Australia, revised 2020 outlook, see here
Making Space on Site Guidelines, see here
Financial Times, Australia’s economy powers out of Covid-19 recession, see here
Research and Marketing, Construction Industry in Australia, Forecast to 2024, see here
New report reveals industries most likely to hire as Australia rebuilds from COVID-19, see here