Around 2500 construction workers are set to head back to work on Auckland Transport projects next week.
AT had earlier closed down 160 worksites across the city during the Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown, but they would now reopen from next Tuesday.
“These projects are worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” AT chief executive Shane Ellison said.
“Some are high profile, like the huge Eastern Busway project, the Downtown programme and Karangahape Rd enhancements, while others are smaller local projects, like road sealing, footpath works and building pedestrian crossings.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said getting the 160 sites going again would be a big boost for the local economy, but it wouldn’t be the only one.
The Government announced in January it was putting up money under the Infrastructure Upgrade to invest in a series of big projects.
Goff said new projects that were shovel-ready and able to tap into that funding would be announced next month.
Getting worksites up to new safety standards was important, he said.
“But it’s also important that we can start to regenerate economic activity and contribute to a growth of income and jobs needed to drag the city and country out of recession.”
AT’s Ellison said that while reduced traffic on city streets offered a great chance to get on with the projects, going back to work would look different for some time into the future.
“Lunch break, for instance, is going to be very different with the workers still having to maintain safe distancing and bubbles,” he said.
Each project site has developed a health and safety plan based on Ministry of Health guidance and the Covid-19 Standard for NZ Construction Operations.
These measures include physical distancing, construction bubbles, compulsory personal protective equipment, hygiene practices on-site and separating teams into zones on larger projects.
One of AT’s most high-profile projects was in the city centre, where 190 construction workers would be back on the job from Tuesday.
Programme director Eric van Essen said workers would be kept in about 30 bubbles on six sites.
“Each worker will be assigned to a bubble and, if they need to go between bubbles, they will have to wear a mask and keep 2m distance.
“We will keep a strict record of anyone entering or leaving a bubble, including anyone making site deliveries,” van Essen said.
The first activity on the site will be setting up cleaning and hygiene stations and bubble entry and exit points.
“We will do this preparation work ahead of Tuesday and then be ready when alert level 3 kicks in on Tuesday and the workers turn up for this new, more challenging way to work.”
AT said it had helped construction companies keep workers in jobs by making $18 million in advance payments to contractors on existing projects.
The cash injection came through an Advance Entitlement Payment scheme for construction contractors, with the NZ Transport Agency also offering a similar scheme to its contractors.
How AT plans to keep workers safe during alert level 3
* Inductions for new project staff and compulsory Covid-19 education and training will be part of ongoing site protocols while in level 2 and 3 scenarios
* Crews will stay in their work bubbles when travelling to and from work and while at work and going on toilet and meal breaks
* Whenever possible, individuals will maintain at least 1m distance from others.
* There will be no entering other work bubbles unless prior approval is granted.
* Masks will be worn if individuals are working within 2m of their team member or enter a different bubble.
* There will be no sharing of any food, drink or cigarettes or kitchen utensils, cups, plates and other equipment.
* There will be no sharing of plant, equipment and tools across bubbles and there will be minimal sharing within each work bubble.
* All crews are to follow hygiene guidance.
* All crews are to follow existing PPE requirements, including the wearing of gloves and safety glasses.
* No person is to come to work if they, or any members of their home bubble experience flu-like symptoms.
*Every person is to keep a record of all interactions with anyone outside of their home and work bubbles in case contact tracing is required.