The construction industry breathed a sigh of relief this week with work recommencing on sites across Greater Sydney, albeit with a 50 per cent cap on peak workforce levels. But many construction workers, particularly those under 40, are understandably left wrangling with the notion of getting vaccinated to be able to attend sites.
Vaccine hesitancy is a barrier to fully reopening the construction industry—and all industries for that matter. Vaccination is a choice and, to be clear, construction workers have a choice. Workers who choose not to vaccinate simply follow the rules that apply to everyone else.
The holy grail however is putting an end to restrictions and lockdowns. To do this we need more Australians to get vaccinated. Speaking on behalf of Australian Constructors Association members, we believe that the best way to achieve this is to encourage and facilitate vaccination. We think that equipping workers with information that will allay fears and improving access to vaccinations will help the construction industry rise up and lead the charge in rebuilding the economy.
In a practical sense, our members are running toolbox information sessions with medical experts to inform workers about the different vaccines available and the protection that they offer. For those who decide vaccination is for them, many of our members are offering paid time away from work to get vaccinated and we are exploring opportunities with the NSW Government to facilitate vaccinations on construction sites.
The NSW Government is again running another Super Sunday vaccination clinic at Sydney Olympic Park this weekend, this time for construction workers. It follows last week’s successful Super Sunday for supermarket and food supply workers. I encourage those that have not yet been vaccinated to visit the NSW Government website and to register to receive a jab.
When it comes down to getting the jab, I can happily say I have played my part having received two doses of AstraZeneca. I am cognisant that for some the prospect may be unnerving. That is why, if you have concerns, consult a medical practitioner.
Construction is all about managing risk and the construction industry has done everything imaginable to make worksites safe having implemented COVID-safe management plans that include staggered starts, sectioned zones, QR codes, Bluetooth tracking technology and most recently rapid antigen testing. No stone has been left unturned—almost.
It is time to move forward and vaccination is the best way.
(As published in The Daily Telegraph on 12 August 2021)