Melbourne construction worker tests positive for COVID-19

A Melbourne construction worker has tested positive for COVID-19 in what may become a pressure point in the industry's bid to remain open through the coronavirus crisis.

A statement from the CFMEU on Thursday said the employee was at work shortly after coming home from an overseas trip, but prior to the government's mandatory self-isolation rule for returning travellers and visitors.

Knock off time: construction workers leave a city building site on Tuesday with far less than the advised 1.5 metres between them.Credit:Joe Armao

"Upon feeling unwell, he did not return to work and was tested the following day," the union's statement said.

"After receiving a positive result of COVID-19, he contacted his employer who immediately shut down the site, contacting the DHHS and the CFMEU.

"All employees who were working on site were contacted straight away. Those who were identified
as being in ‘close contact’ with the diagnosed employee were forced to quarantine for 14-days."

The statement said the workers who were self-isolating had so far shown no symptoms.

Construction is one of the state’s biggest industries, accounting for 9 per cent of Victorian jobs and a shutdown under further government restrictions would have enormous ramifications for the state.

Both unions and construction companies insist their work must continue, despite acknowledging some sites are not observing strict social distancing rules

The CFMEU said the infected employee's worksite had been cleaned by a specialist company to "hospital-grade" standards and work had now resumed.

"The CFMEU and the building and construction industry stakeholders will continue to enforce all
necessary hygiene and social distancing measures with the upmost importance to ensure the
collective health and safety of the entire community during this difficult time," the statement said.

"Currently, the national cabinet’s stance is that the building and construction industry is deemed an
essential service and the CFMEU and industry bodies will continue to work through this challenging
period, abiding by all government rules and enforcing strict social distancing and hygiene practices
in all sites to ensure the health and safety of workers and their families."

The union said any builder or site that did not follow COVID-19 guidelines set out to protect workers' safety should be reported.

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