COVID-19 Stage 4 Restrictions: Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ - Stage 4 Restrictions Victoria

We understand that the introduction of Stage 4 restrictions in Victoria have given rise to a number of questions surrounding the building and construction industry, particularly in the provision of risk, safety and compliance services.

To help answer these questions, Hendry has provided this FAQ to clarify matters surrounding your legal and regulatory obligations, and our assurances of continued service delivery throughout COVID-19.

Are Hendry still able to continue delivering services in Victoria during Stage 4 Restrictions?

Yes. Our Essential Safety Measures, Property Risk, Emergency Planning, Asset condition defect and safety audit services are permitted to continue without restrictions to our operation. These services are covered in the Stage 4 Restrictions under “Public Administration & Safety – Public order, safety and Regulatory Services”, and Essential/High-Risk Local Laws currently in force.

Our Building Surveying and Inspection services are also able to continue with no restrictions to our operation. These services are covered in the Stage 4 Restrictions under “Professional, Scientific and Technical Services”, in which the Government permits:

  • “Architecture, surveying, building inspection and engineering services, where required on site for permitted construction.”

Additionally, Safety Measures services are able to continue with no restrictions to our operation. These services are permitted under "All Sectors" per the following:

  • Routine Service
    Building and grounds maintenance are permitted to operate if they are providing support to an essential industry or where required to maintain the health and safety of Victorians at home or at work.

    Any ancillary business involved in the manufacture, repair, or maintenance of equipment, goods, or services necessary for the operations of a permitted work site or for closed work sites where there are safety or environmental obligations can continue with a COVIDSafe Plan in place. 

    Work sites that are in the closed category, can continue to provide access for the purposes of critical maintenance and safety works including meeting environmental obligations, subject to meeting the minimum requirements. 

Finally, with respect to asset auditing, auditing services as mandated in the Building Act include the process of identification of building and asset condition as part of “eliminating workplace risks at the source”, and as such are permitted under “Administrative and Support Services”.

All services are backed by a robust COVID-Safe Plan.

Are Hendry inspectors permitted to travel to my site? What if I am regionally based?

Permission for our practitioners to travel throughout Victoria is in line with Department of Health and Human Services guidelines (COVID-19 Travel Restrictions), which provides allowances where “work related travel by your staff within Victoria is necessary.”

Our qualified and accredited practitioners possess the requisite permissions for travel and for the purposes of providing essential risk and compliance services.

Inspectors are available to travel regionally into stage three restricted regions, and will discuss your COVID-19 Protocols well in advance of our visit to ensure service delivery can be carried out safely.

Are staff required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

Yes. We have been closely adhering to directions of both the Chief Health Officer and the Victorian Government, who have expressly mandated the use of PPE including face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, alongside social distancing guidelines and hygiene measures.

Our staff have undergone training to ensure a thorough understanding of the appropriate use of PPE.

Am I still required to carry out compliance inspections during Stage 4 Restrictions?

Yes. Building authorities state that your obligation to ensure ongoing compliance "continues even if the building is vacant." Compliance therefore must be seen as business-as-usual. Building owners, operators and/or managers can be held liable for the avoidance of mandatory regulations, which may result in “prosecution or substantial fines."

We have provided a breakdown of your risk and safety compliance obligations and liabilities in a recent article. Click here to read the full story on our website.

Our services are mandated under the following legislation and industry regulations:

  • Building Act 1993
  • Building Regulations 2018
  • National Construction Code (NCC), Volumes 1 and 2
  • Australian Standard AS ISO 31000:2018
  • Australian Standard AS1851-2012
  • Australian Standard AS 3745-2010 “Planning for Emergencies in Facilities”
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act Victoria 2004
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Would I be better off delaying my routine compliance inspections?

Some people believe that they may reduce short-term costs or enhance safety by having fewer contractors visiting the site and delaying inspections and audits mandated by law or by industry regulation. This will however leave you liable where issues of non-compliance have not been addressed and critical infrastructure does not meet risk and safety criteria.

Should any safety measure or risk-mitigating component in a building become non-compliant, penalties for failing to follow prescribed inspection, certification or rectification measures could result in severe fines.

It is important to consider that just because a building may be partially vacant or not open to the general public does not mean there is a reduced risk of an incident, emergency or fire occurring. There remains an obligation to undertake compliance to avoid risk related threats have the potential to harm remaining workers, visiting contractors or surrounding buildings.

Additionally, there are several benefits in scheduling compliance inspections whilst fewer people are on your site, or when your site is closed.

What are the benefits of scheduling my compliance inspections when my site is closed or has reduced operations?

Allowing mandated inspections and auditing to be undertaken at your site at this time will minimise contact as less people will be present at any given time.

Additionally, conducting compliance inspections during this time will avoid disruptions to usual business operations, which may occur when in full operation, such as alarms sounding, or room/site shutdowns.

We advise clients to get in touch to schedule their compliance inspections during this period to enhance safety and avoid disruption.

What if my site is Closed (for on-site work) under the Stage 4 Restrictions?

Service providers like Hendry are still required to conduct routine or essential inspections or to perform prescribed maintenance under current legislations or regulations, and so are permitted to attend closed sites.

What if my site has Restricted or Industry Specific Obligations? Should I still have contractors visiting site?

Service providers like Hendry are still required to have site access to perform the necessary building inspections, safety and compliance audits.

For example, we are continuing to provide safety measures inspections and risk and compliance audits for clients representing industries such as shopping centres and retail locations throughout the country. Ensuring that compliance is upheld during periods of vacancy is essential to preventing potential liabilities.

I’m in the construction industry, are Building Inspectors classified in the 25% of ‘normal employees’ allowed on site?

Building Inspectors, along with architects and engineers, sit within the 25% restriction and are subject to the same applicable daily worker limit.

We are working in close partnership with site managers to ensure that our practitioners will be able to complete site visits without any significant impact to other on-site works. Consultation will occur in advance to ensure that our practitioners can be included into the Reduced Operations Limit.

To minimise the risk of exposure, Hendry has implemented a limit as recommended by the State Government, declaring that each practitioner should attend no more than three (3) site visits per week, except where such visits are required to meet a minimum statutory obligation or requirement. We will provide services to the fullest of our capability.

We will otherwise ensure that we attend your site in a manner that complies with all health and safety guidelines.

Does Hendry have an updated COVID-Safe Plan in place?

Yes we do, contact info@hendry.com.au if you require a copy of our COVID-Safe Plan.

Does Hendry provide any COVID-19 specific services?

Yes, our Emergency Planning team has been providing client and site specific COVID-19 Emergency Response Plans, ensuring that our clients can act quickly to any suspected or confirmed cases safely, with minimal business disruption and in accordance with WorkSafe requirements.

Hendry can also assist in the creation of a simple and easily implemented COVID-Safe Plan should you require one, in keeping with the best practice guidelines.

If you require assistance, email ep@hendry.com.au to discuss your COVID requirements.

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