Construction shutdown will take “a heavy toll” on the industry

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The South Australian construction industry is shaken after construction is not exempted from the state’s seven-day lockdown, with the highest authority in the industry warning of safety concerns if workers do not have enough time to clear unfinished sites.

Premier Steven Marshall announced today that construction will not continue under the seven-day statewide lockdown that begins at 6 p.m. today.

Will Frogley, CEO of Master Builders SA, said the closure of the construction industry would have a huge impact on the more than 70,000 construction workers directly employed in the industry.

“A seven-day lockdown for our industry is equivalent to two to three weeks of production downtime,” said Frogley.

“So this lockdown will put a really heavy strain on the construction industry.

“If the lockdown continues beyond seven days, we really need the building permit to continue and to be classified as essential.”

South Australia’s construction industry was rated as material in both November and March last year.

The decision to exclude construction as a vital industry follows a similar call in New South Wales to shut down construction last weekend.

Construction work remains exempt from the Victorian lockdown.

Frogley said he hoped SA construction workers would get an exemption from work through Wednesday’s close of business to safely close unfinished construction sites.

“Construction sites are very difficult to leave quickly, they have to be properly cordoned off,” he said.

“There are security issues, equipment and money’s worth of supplies that need to be secured or removed.

“And what we really need to know now is that people in the industry are given enough time to make sure of this.

“When you have a half-finished construction site, when things are not properly secured, when the scaffolding is not properly secured or the like… things can be left out on the construction site that can become safety problems when people return.

“When people move fast, mistakes can happen.”

Frogley said the lockdown came at a time when there was a “serious shortage of wood”.

“If the factories close, at a really critical time the industry will miss a week of production,” he said.

The SA Property Council also criticized the cessation of construction work

“Although the ‘pause’ button has been pressed for construction sites, they should be a priority if South Australia emerges from this seven-day lockdown,” said Daniel Gannon, executive director of SA Property Council.

“As we saw in Victoria, the construction sites continued to function safely for the past week and before and offer the South Australians important job opportunities.”

The NSW government is under heavy pressure for its sudden decision to shut down their state’s construction industry over the weekend.

Construction companies, unions and contractors in the eastern state have formed a united front to urge the government to get some workers back to work on the construction sites before the end of the month.

NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian defended the building closure as needed but said the government was working with the sector on safe ways to reopen on July 31.

She indicated that the industry would have additional security measures, including on-site COVID testing.

“It was important for us to take a break so that the industry can safely and indefinitely resume and continue,” Berejiklian told reporters on Tuesday.

The construction shutdown is costing NSW’s economy at least $ 700 million a week and has forced 250,000 dealers to shut down tools.

-With AAP

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