Residential construction sites are the main focus of non-compliance checks undertaken by WorkSafe ACT, as authorities seek to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on worksites.
"So far we've issued 136 notices: 21 of those notices have been prohibition notices, and 115 have been improvement notices," Work Health and Safety Commissioner Jacqueline Agius said.
"And about 50 per cent of those are in relation to COVID [non-]compliance," she said of the total 136.
Ms Agius was speaking on Thursday in Throsby, as 14 inspectors and two assisting police officers conducted their fourth audit of the residential construction sector.
WorkSafe assesses compliance with general safety standards as well as COVID protocols, and audits have previously been conducted in Denman Prospect, Taylor and Strathnairn.
A prohibition notice "may be closing down the entire site, or it may be [to] stop a particular activity, or may be closing down an area on the site," Ms Agius said.
"It just depends on what the non-compliance is. An improvement notice is essentially a warning to the business to improve this part of this safety system."
The 14 inspectors attending the audit were given instructions on procedures if they did encounter any aggression during the checks.
"We've had no aggression on a residential construction site since they have returned to work," Ms Agius said.
"But prior to residential construction being allowed to return to work, our inspectors were conducting surveillance activities and during some of those surveillance activities ... a couple of people engaged inappropriately with our inspectors."
"We've conducted a campaign basically split into two parts, which is the residential sector and also the commercial construction sector," Craig Dillon, WorkSafe Inspector said.
Commercial sites, which returned to work on September 3 have seen about 25 checks, while residential has seen about 60 from its return on September 10, Inspector Dillon said.
"Obviously the ratio between commercial sites and residential sites, it's far outweighed with residential," he said.
"Both sectors are quite busy at the moment in the ACT, however the residential is, at the moment, where we're finding a lot of our non-compliance so therefore we provide additional resources and try and spread out over a larger area."
Matt Davis, Enforcement and Compliance Director said: "COVID-19 is another hazard on-site that needs to be managed. We want that included in the overall safety system for each site that's operating."
Many residential construction teams had proactively sought guidance about being COVID-safe, especially in the lead-up to reopening, he said.
"It has slowed down a little bit but I think it's slowed down because we're out here all the time at the moment," he said.
"On Tuesday, I was just walking around with the team, I think I answered probably 20 questions when someone pulled me over to a site."
Natalie Lawton, an Access Canberra compliance officer said business compliance had been quite high, and the main issues continued to be mask-wearing and staff not checking in.
The 20-person compliance team has conducted 9000 inspections or observations since Canberra's lockdown began, and almost 20,000 since March 2020.
Access Canberra has not issued any infringements, penalties which differ based on what the non-compliance was.
"We do focus our efforts on non-compliance issues we've identified with businesses in the past, we like to follow up to make sure that they are doing the right thing," Ms Lawson said.
"We also choose areas at random, or we focus our efforts on the higher risk businesses as well [such as supermarkets and hardware stores]."
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