In unprecedented times of a Pandemic, many companies had to pivot quicky to ensure that they could operate within the changing circumstances.   The company had to undertake substantial planning which was needed not just at the business level but also at an industry level to ensure that to be undertaken at business and industry level to ensure that operations could be conducted safely and efficiently.  This involved navigating Government mandates and restrictions and sometimes suspension of construction activities. 

Paramount to the company’s ethos is the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees, subcontractors, customers, suppliers and members of the public, when navigating through the Covid 19 Pandemic.  

General measures implemented include:

  • All employees in roles that could productively work remotely, did so;
  • Temperature checks occurring regularly in offices and project locations;
  • Increased focus on hygiene, particularly hand hygiene;
  • Split workforces on active projects and in offices to enhance social distancing protocols;
  • Active projects holding prestart meetings and toolboxes virtually when technology permits, or over two-way radio, with the sign in being through a ‘roll call’;
  • Social distancing measures in vehicles, offices and on site.

Construction Covid Safe Plan

Central to operating during 2020 and 2021 during the Pandemic, particularly in the eastern states, was the implementation of a robust Covid safe plan.  This was the living document that enabled the company to  operate with both employees and subcontractors in the same space to ensure that everyone was covid safe.

Whilst there may be shared principles that are applied uniformly, each construction project had their own covid safe plan tailored for the needs of the project. The Plan’s objectives were to ensure:

  • Any pandemic situation that occurs locally or internationally is identified, and corresponding pandemic response actions are prepared and executed as necessary.
  • Adequate resources and equipment are provided for the effective implementation of pandemic readiness and response plans.
  • Relevant procedures are implemented in the event of a high risk or emergency arising
  • monitor and comply with government health advice and directions and orders

The company’s robust covid safe plan included detailed steps to deal with suspected cases. Plans on their own, would not deliver a safe working environment.  The Plan included key personnel who had direct responsibilities and actions in relation to ensuring a covid safe workplace.

Key Personnel and their obligations

Pandemic Response Manager

The Pandemic Response Manager is the key contact for Government authorities with respect to Pandemic issues. The functions of the role are shared between the HSEQ Manager and the HR manager. 

The tasks include:

  • Checking the latest advisories from Government authorities and updating personnel accordingly.
  • Actively monitoring the national alert levels and working with management on messages and advisories to personnel in the event of activation of response measures.
  • Educating personnel on the disease and the mode of transmission.
  • Updating and collating contact information of all employees.
  • Ensuring that the workplace has adequate supplies of personal protective equipment such as tissue papers, hand towels, disinfectants, sanitisers, and masks.
  • Appointing staff to keep quarantined employees informed of events at workplaces.
  • Ensuring control measures of this plan are implemented and their effectiveness are monitored and reviewed continuously.
  • Facilitate contact tracing with authorities or government approved agents on potentially infected employees.
  • Notification of positive cases, to the appropriate authority in accordance with the State or Territory regulations, immediately that the positive result is advised to them.

Project Director

Responsible for the implementation of the Pandemic Response Plan at the workplace.

Crisis Management Team (CMT)

Responsible for managing the response and recovery effort in the event of a crisis.

Pandemic Response Coordinator

This was a shared function between the H&S Lead and HR and the responsibilities involved:

  • overseeing and co-ordinating actions required by the Pandemic Response Plan.
  • regularly communicating and updating Pandemic Response Manager.

Workplace Safety & Health Representative

Assist in the reviewing the effectiveness of the Pandemic Response Plan for the workplace.

COVID Officer

  • Understanding the project COVID safe plan, Pandemic Plan and relevant SWMS for contractors and subcontractors;
  • Communicate all relevant Public Health Orders and Directions updates to relevant parties.
  • Provide audit findings inspections to all relevant parties.

COVID Marshal for designated workplace area:

  • ensures Covid Safe Plans and Pandemic Response Plans are implemented within their respective Workplace designated area.
  • Ensuring all relevant persons practice appropriate physical distancing measures;
  • Ensuring all relevant persons wear appropriate PPE as per directions;
  • Ensuring all relevant persons hygiene measures as per directions;
  • Ensure adequate ventilation across the project;
  • Limit workers movement to work zones where practicable, reducing bottlenecks and congestion;
  • Keeping accurate and robust records of all relevant documentation;
  • Informing required updates to respective Covid Safe and Pandemic Response plans.
  • Educating all relevant personnel of all practises and guidelines.

 All Employees:

  • Report any health-related concerns immediately to their supervisor.
  • Abide with all Government and the company’s advisories and communications.
  • Be socially responsible and practice good personal hygiene.
  • Immediately seek medical attention if symptomatic and advise their supervisor. Do not go to work until provided medical clearance.
  • Contact Pandemic Response Coordinator if admitted to hospital with suspected pandemic, for contact tracing purposes.
  • Notify the Pandemic Response Manager immediately if confirmed positive for the infectious disease.
  • When required and where possible, plan to work from home.


  • Comply with the requirements stipulated in the Pandemic Response Plan
  • Report any health-related concerns immediately to supervisor and company representative.
  • Abide with all Government and the company’s advisories and communications.
  • Appoint a key Contact Person with knowledge of their employees’ health conditions, medical records and quarantine situations as mandated by the authorities.


  • Visitors will be requested to follow the measures detailed in this plan and may be required to declare
  • their travel history, allow their body temperatures to be taken and sign into the Government QR Code Tracing system.

Suppliers / Delivery Drivers

  • Abide with all Government and the company advisories and communications.
  • Report any health-related concerns immediately to supervisor and company’s representative.
  • Comply with all instructions given by the company’s representative
  • Suppliers and Delivery Drivers will be requested to follow the measures detailed in this plan and as a minimum be required to declare their travel history, allow their body temperatures to be taken and sign into the Government QR Code Tracing system.

Workplace Mapping

In the event of a person being confirmed as having COVID-19, those who were potentially affected need to be quickly identified. The project established a system to maintain records of employee movements whilst at the workplace each day, these are kept for a the stipulated number of days (as determined by the Department of Health for the state or territory).  These include:

  • Day and time work was undertaken
  • Members of teams that worked together
  • Specific work area on the construction site
  • Any breaks taken,  including time and location

Subject to the business restrictions imposed  by the state government,  movement between sites,  or areas within large sites, is minimised as much as possible. Where attending multiple sites is necessary (e.g., for HSRs, first aiders, emergency wardens) movement between sites were recorded in the workplace mapping.

Records are accessible in the business’s collaboration platform, and data comes from personnel completing the Prestart Sign On and Temperature Testing Form. Supervisors also retain records of work activities which can be used.

Contact Tracing

Workers  on the  Project are provided  a "Contact" card during their induction which is  registered to a person with  their name and phone number and/ or email  address and must be worn on their person while on site. The cards register a contact if two cards are within 2 metres for 2 minutes or more and the date and time of contact are recorded on the card in two-hour blocks. This data is uploaded from cards into the Contact web platform and stored for 28 days.  In the event of a positive case, the positive case card data will be uploaded to identify others in contact. Close contacts can be immediately notified  by bulk text or email  using the Contact

Visitors may also be issued the card registered to them for the duration of their visit.

Management of Suspected and Confirmed Cases

The Pandemic Response Coordinator (PRC) monitors site entry controls and immediately informs the Project Director of employees seeking medical attention and/or taking leave of absence. The Project Director will advise of the arrangements for working from home for those with respiratory difficulties, high temperatures or with recent travel history to high-risk areas. Where required immediate medical attention could have been sought at the nearest Hospital. The PRC maintains  regular communication with staff members who have been advised to seek medical attention and monitors their condition.


When a person experiences covid symptoms the employer is notified:

  • If the  person  is  an employee,  they  must  notify  their  supervisor  who will  inform  the Pandemic Response Coordinator. The HR Manager is also be notified  if it is suspected to be a Covid-19 case.
  • If the person is a contractor, they must inform their employer and their employer must inform the Pandemic Response Coordinator.
  • Contact card data upload to be arranged by Pandemic Response Coordinator.

Stay home/ Leave site

  • If a person is  away from work and experiences  any COVID-19  symptoms  (fever,  chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell or taste), they must not attend the work site.
  • If a person is at work or onsite and experiences any COVID-19 symptoms, the person should immediately advise  the  employer  and  leave  site. 
  • The person  should  ensure,  with  the employer's  assistance,  that  in  travelling  home  or to  medical  attention  from  the  site,  that precautions are taken to avoid exposure to others (e.g., wearing a mask, physical distancing, driving themselves in their own vehicle),  consistent with Government advice.

Contact the COVID-19 hotline/ get tested

  • The person must inform the employer if they were or were not required to be tested.
  • If a COVID-19 test is not required, the person needs stay home until well. If in doubt they should self-isolate for the number of days as determined by the Department of Health for the state or territory. A medical clearance may be required to return to work.
  • If a COVID-19 test is required,  the person must complete the test as soon as possible and await the results in isolation.

Preventative Cleaning

  • To manage the risk posed by the suspected case, appropriate cleaning must be undertaken including cleaning of their personal workspace and any areas frequently used by the person including high touch surfaces.

COVID-19 test results received

  • Evidence of a result must be provided to BOTH of the following:
  • the Project Health and Safety Team prior to entering the work site, by emailing a copy of their test  result  (e.g.  certificate,  text  message  or screenshot  of result,  etc)  and
  • their supervisor, upon arrival to site.
  • If the test returns a negative result and the person has fully recovered, they will be able to return to work with a medical clearance. If the person is still  unwell, they should remain at home until they have recovered.
  • If the test confirms a COVID-19 diagnosis, the person must remain in isolation and assist the employer/ Department of Health with mapping and tracing investigations.
  • The employer should discuss leave arrangement options with the person and other assistance that may be available.

The Covid Safe Plan has become the tool to manage the impact of the pandemic in workplaces.  On construction projects, the uniqueness of the challenge is in terms of the sometimes-vast area that makes up the worksite and the volume of people, not all of which are direct employees of the company.

The Company has successfully navigated the challenges posed by the pandemic and continues to ensure a covid safe environment on its sites.


This case study was produced with the support of the Commonwealth Government, represented by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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