COVID-19: Construction sector calls to be included in Government vaccine mandate

COVID-19: Construction sector calls to be included in Government vaccine mandate
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Master Builders is calling on the Government to include the construction sector in the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

Last week the Government made it mandatory for healthcare workers and education workers to be vaccinated. 

In a press release on Monday, Master Builders chief executive David Kelly urged the Government to include the construction workforce in the mandate.  

"We commend the Government's bold leadership in establishing vaccine mandates in the health and education sectors. It is the right thing to do. We now call on the Government to front foot broadening mandates to the building and construction workforce", Kelly said. 

He said companies are increasingly under pressure from clients for their builders to be vaccinated. 

"Clients are advising they only want vaccinated builders in their homes, which they are legally entitled to do. 

"This places the main contractor in a bind, as they are unable to require their employees to be vaccinated, can't disclose vaccination status to others, or indeed may not know the vaccination status of all their employees."

He said many Master Builders members also want greater clarity about whether they can require staff to be vaccinated. 

"A Government mandate will clear that confusion. It is urgent for it to do so because of the particular nature of the building and construction sector."

Kelly said construction workers pose a risk of spreading the virus because they travel longer distances to work, often visit multiple workplaces in a day and frequently work indoors in poorly ventilated environments. 

"The physical nature of the work means that physical distancing rules increase their risk of accident and injury.

"In addition, there are often multiple businesses working on the same site, including the lead contractor and several specialist trades.

"The sector needs to play its part in our national vaccination response and is doing so. But, right now, we need clarity, direction, and decisive action from Government on vaccine mandates. In their absence, there is a risk of further disruption in the sector," he warned. 

Under the vaccine mandate anyone conducting high-risk work in the health and disability sector must be fully vaccinated by December 1, 2021.

 "Under these new requirements, general practitioners, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics, and all healthcare workers in sites where vulnerable patients are treated (including intensive care units) must receive their first dose of the vaccine by October 30," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said last Monday. 

"These requirements also include certain non-regulated healthcare work, such as aged residential care, home and community support services, kaupapa Māori health providers and non-government organisations who provide health services."

School and ECE workers will need to have their first dose by November 15. From January 1, 2022, schools and early learning services and providers will need to maintain a register, and ensure only vaccinated staff and support people have contact with children and students. 

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