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Health & Safety At Risk As Well As Jobs If Construction Can’t Re-start Soon

Amid speculation that some sectors of New Zealand’s workforce could return to work next week under Level 3, the New Zealand Chinese Building Industry Association (NZCBIA) welcomes the Government’s latest measures to support SMEs in the property and building sectors while warning that many companies and sites will face an uncertain future if construction cannot resume again soon.

This comes just as the NZCBIA’s latest membership survey reveals concerns not only for the health and wellbeing of companies in the sector but also the health and safety of workers if sites are left unattended for too much longer.

Survey responses from 58 of NZCBIA property development and building SME members (of 5-50 employees) revealed that:

- Over half (53%) can only survive for 8 weeks or less

- 19% cannot survive for even 4 weeks of lockdown

- Only 22% can survive longer than 12 weeks

- 64% of respondents have either completely shut down already or suffered significant impacts

- 62% will consider redundancies if the lockdown lasts longer than 4 weeks

- 70% companies have frozen future hiring.

The survey also showed that businesses in the sector are focused on preparing for the special Health & Safety measures likely to be required under Level 3. The top 5 things companies will do are:

- Enhanced cleaning and sanitising efforts across facilities

- Banning all non-essential travel

- Providing employees with ‘work from home’ flexibility

- Addressing employees’ psychological stress

- Organising flexible working hours through for example reduced operating hours.

Frank Xu, President of the non-profit NZ Chinese Building Industry Association, says: “This is not just about jobs, but safety too. Urgent work needs to be done on sites across the country as early as possible for security, safety and compliance reasons. As our survey agreed, we need to open construction sites after 4 weeks of lockdown, and to add new safety measures for sites.

“If the lockdown lasts much longer, not only will many companies go bust in the sector, as well as their supply chains. But If half-finished construction sites are shut down for too long, there’s a significant risk of material deterioration, which will cause safety concerns on site and could require expensive re-work.

“SMEs in the building sector need a short-term solution urgently. Their businesses, and people, depend on the building industry going back to work.”

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