Face masks now mandated across Sydney building sites

Updated August 2021

Masks must be worn by workers both indoors and outdoors in Greater Sydney and it should be a fitted face covering over both their nose and mouth. Workers may remove a mask in certain circumstances, including:

  • when eating or drinking
  • if the nature of the person's work:(i) makes the wearing of a fitted face covering a risk to the person's, or another person's health and safety, or (ii) means clear enunciation or visibility of the person's mouth is essential
  • because of an emergency
  • when communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • if asked to remove their mask to ascertain their identity.

Face mask exemptions
The requirement to wear a mask does not apply to a person with a physical or mental health illness or condition, or a disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable.

  • You are not required to wear a mask if you have a physical or mental health condition that makes wearing a mask unsuitable
  • Anyone who is exempt must carry their medical exemption certificate from their doctor or NDIS provider or statutory declaration along with proof of their name and address.
  • If you are stopped by police in a setting where face masks are mandatory, you will be asked to confirm the lawful reason you are not wearing a face mask.
  • The fine for not wearing a mask is $500 for over 18s and $40-$80 for younger people.

If you believe you qualify for a mask exemption you can get a letter or certificate of exemption from your doctor or NDIS provider.

Click here to read exactly what the new Health Order says about exemptions.

Social distancing

Social distancing is one way to help slow the spread of viruses. Generally, social distancing means:

  • Staying at home when people are sick
  • Avoiding gathering if they are not essential
  • Allowing 4sqm of space per person for essential indoor gatherings
  • Staying 1.5m away from people as much as possible and for outdoor essential gatherings
  • Avoiding touching others such as shaking hands, kissing or hugging.

On a construction site you can practice social distancing in the following ways:

  • Plan ways to enable physical distancing of 1.5m to reduce in-person contact of workers. On a construction site this can be done by:
    • careful scheduling of work to provide distance between workgroups and individuals, e.g. schedule for some internal trades and external trades to work at the same time rather several internal trades only.
    • minimising the numbers of workers in workgroups or teams e.g. only send the necessary numbers of workers to complete a task.
    • When setting up fixed workspaces on site, ensure they are away from other people, high traffic areas and amenities.
    • Staggering of lunch breaks, start times and finish times to minimise any larger gatherings of workers
    • If a large part of the project needs to be undertaken requiring larger numbers of workers i.e. formwork, schedule for only that task to be undertaken on that day or within a specific time frame.
    • Where none of this is possible encourage good hygiene practices as outlined above.
  • Cancel all international and any unnecessary domestic travel plans.
  • Do not hold or allow employees to attend non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 or more people such as, large inductions, toolbox talks, conferences, training or celebrations.
  • Do not hold or allow employees to attend non-essential outdoor gatherings of 500 or more people.
  • Cancel non-essential activities such as domestic business travel and large face-to-face meetings.
  • Encourage flexible working arrangements including working from home and working in smaller teams.
  • Where possible schedule teams of workers to work separately, at different times or on separate parts of the project.
  • Limit any unnecessary visitors to the site, e.g sales staff, office staff, family members or clients.

Using personal hoists and lifts
  • Limit numbers in hoist to allow for social distancing – taking into account the hoist operator
  • Persons should face away from each other whilst riding in the hoist
  • Travel directly to necessary floors – make more trips and reduce numbers of persons in hoist/ lift at any one time
  • Promote use of stairs for those tasks which don’t require carrying of large equipment/ material – monitor overuse
  • Schedule times for the use of the hoist i.e. for specific tasks, trades or for cleaning times.
  • Avoid large congregations of workers waiting for the hoist at entry points – promoting the principals of social distancing, stagger start times and mealtimes will assist with this
  • Rotate hoist operators at regular intervals
  • Regularly clean the hoist, including handrails and operators controls
  • Provide hand sanitiser in hoists.

WH&S incident notification COVID-19

Safe Work Australia has published a Fact Sheet that provides information for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) on the approach to COVID-19 incident notification laws in each State and Territory jurisdiction, including details on how to notify when required.

Should Members have any enquiries regarding this matter, please contact the Association’s Safety Department on 02 8586 3555.



Questions to ask your workers in relation to covid-19


The following set of questions may be used as part of an induction, a toolbox talk or through other consultative arrangements to ascertain the level of risk to your workplace.

Ideally, this should be delivered outside in an open-air environment standing 1.5m away from the nearest person(s).

Corona Virus (COVID-19) Questionnaire
  1. Have you recently returned from overseas travel in the last 14 days? 
    If yes - Required to Self-Isolate for 14 days from date of arrival into Australia.
  2. Have you been in contact with a person confirmed sick with COVID-19? 
    If yes - Required to Self-Isolate for 14 days from date of contact.
  3. Do you have any of the following symptoms “Having travelled overseas” in last 14 days: Fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath & other symptoms. 
    If yes - Call GP to arrange appointment & Required to Self-Isolate for at least 14 days pending examination.
  4. Do you have any of the following symptoms “Without having travelled”: Fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath and other symptoms. 
    If yes - Call GP to arrange appointment and discuss symptoms.
  5. Are you planning on travelling overseas in the near future? 
    If yes – Let your employer know prior to leaving to arrange a return to work timeline.

Protecting against COVID-19 (Procedure)
  1. Include Corona Virus (COVID-19) Questionnaire / Screening into your organisations induction agenda, along with signed declaration by the site management representative that “to the utmost of my powers, I have communicated (or have had someone translate) the Corona Virus (COVID-19) Questionnaire and Procedure to the inductee / toolbox attendee.
  2. Consult with all interested parties associated with your organisations business or undertaking to request they screen themselves and their workers for COVID-19 prior to attending a workplace under the management or control of your organisation.
  3. Ensure the Corona Virus (COVID-19) Questionnaire is communicated and / or translated to all persons undertaking an induction. 
  4. Consider limiting or reducing recirculated air-conditioning in workplaces.
  5. Monitor, communicate and amend Corona Virus (COVID-19) Questionnaire with daily updates by the NSW Health Department as necessary.
  6. Ensure regular consultative arrangements include current updates from the NSW Health Department and allows for participative engagement by the workers to raise any concerns they may have.
  7. Provide additional hand sanitizers and washing stations where reasonably practicable.
  8. Display signage relevant to maintaining a hygienic work environment (see below links for signage).

NSW Department of Health – Coronavirus FAQ’s

Hygiene is in your Hands

Simple Steps to Help Stop the Spread

Have You Recently Travelled Overseas?


Social Distancing
  1. Avoid crowds and mass gatherings where it is difficult to keep the appropriate distance away from others.
  2. Avoid small gatherings in enclosed spaces.
  3. Endeavor to conduct consultation meetings in large open areas (outside if possible and ensure participants stand apart by at least 1.5m and safe to do so).
  4. Avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing other people.
  5. Avoid visiting or conducting works near vulnerable people.

Home Isolation
  1. If you are self-isolating you should stay in a different room from other people or be separated as much as possible, especially with those at risk of severe diseases (such as elderly people with heart, lung or kidney conditions and diabetics). People who have symptoms and might be infected with COVID-19 should wear surgical face masks when in the same room as another person & when seeking medical advice to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to anyone else. Face masks are not recommended for the general population.
  2. If someone in your household is self-isolating the aforementioned control measures should be adhered to. Other members of the household are not required to be isolated unless they have been overseas in the last 14 days or have been in close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case.

More Information and Support
  1. Call the National Coronavirus Health Information line on 1800 020 080.
  2. Visit the NSW Health Website - COVID-19 (Coronavirus)