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Are you in the building and construction industry? This is what you need to know about vaccination mandates.

On 31 December 2021, the Acting Chief Health Officer of WA, Dr Paul Armstrong, made Directions about the Covid-19 mandates for the building and construction industry in WA. If you are involved in the building and construction industry, it is important that you understand the requirements set out in the Directions.

Does it apply to me?

For the purposes of the Directions, a ‘building or construction worker’ is ‘a person who carries out activities or undertakes services at a building and construction site and is employed or otherwise engaged, including in a voluntary or unpaid capacity, by the owner, occupier, operator or person apparently in charge of the building or construction site, or by a contractor or subcontractor of the owner, occupier, operator or person in charge of the building and construction site.’

The definition of ‘building and construction worker’ also includes apprentices, trainees, and people doing work experience placement at a building and construction site.

However, it does not include a person employed by a local government to do minor construction works (eg. minor road works, irrigation works, parks and garden works, etc.)

A ‘building and construction site’ is a place at which building or construction works are being carried out, but does not include:

  • building work or construction work carried out in relation to a dwelling in which a person is residing; and
  • building work for which a building permit or a demolition permit is not required.

What do I need to know?

If you fall under the definition of a ‘building and construction worker’ you should familiarise yourself with the vaccination requirements in the Directions.

As of 1 February 2022, a building and construction worker can only enter a building and construction site if they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Building and construction workers (and any other occupation covered by a set of directions) who were eligible to receive their booster dose on or before 4 January 2022 had to receive their booster dose by 5 February 2022. After that, building and construction workers must get their booster dose within one month of being eligible for it.

If you have a medical exemption or a temporary exemption in relation to the vaccine, then you do not have to follow this requirement.

If only part of a premises is a building and construction site, then these vaccination requirements only apply to the part of the premises that is a building and construction site.

Further, if a building and construction worker is entering a building and construction site, but is not entering the site in their capacity as a building and construction worker, then the vaccination requirements do not apply to them.

Do I need to show proof of vaccination?

You do not need to show proof of vaccination unless you are directed to do so by an emergency officer or nominated officer of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. If this occurs, you will be required to show the officer your proof of vaccination and they have the authority to inspect, record and retain a copy of it.

If your employer or the owner, occupier, operator or person in charge of the building and construction site asks for proof of vaccination, you are required to provide it to them as well.

I employ building and construction workers – what are my obligations?

If you employ building and construction workers, or if you are the owner, occupier, operator or person in charge of a building and construction site, you have an obligation to do the following:

  • collect and maintain a record of the vaccination status of all building and construction workers;
  • only allow vaccinated workers to work on a building and construction site (unless they are exempt); and
  • provide a record of your workers’ vaccination status to an emergency or nominated officer if they request it.

You also have a duty to ensure the records you keep of your workers’ vaccination status is not used for any unlawful purpose and you must take steps to protect your records from unauthorised access.

General precautionary measures

As well as the Directions that were made specifically for building and construction workers, Safe Work Australia has some guidelines for all workers and workplaces. These guidelines cover topics such as risk assessments, physical distancing, hygiene and cleaning. This Safe Work Australia website is a one-stop-shop to access these guidelines: https://covid19.swa.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces

Should I get legal advice?

If you work in the building and construction industry, or if you employ people in the building and construction industry, you should be aware of the legal requirements that apply. If you are unsure whether the Directions apply to you, or if you have any questions about the extent or content of the Directions, contact Lynn & Brown Lawyers for expert legal advice.

About the authors: This article has been co-authored by Chelsea McNeill and Steven Brown. Chelsea is a lawyer that graduated from Murdoch University. Steven is a Perth lawyer and director, and has over 20 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in commercial law, dispute resolution and estate planning.

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