On the eve of a lesser lockdown

Some more people will be able to go back to work tomorrow as we drop to Level 3 lockdown, but most of us will be still confined to our homes and neighbourhoods except for essential trips to the supermarket and for healthcare if required.

RNZ: Building firms gear up to reopen tomorrow under alert level 3

Under level 3, workers can resume on-site work, provided they have a Covid-19 control plan in place, with appropriate health and safety and physical distancing measures.

Building firm Naylor Love’s chief executive, Rick Herd, said plans would be different at every work site, where each site had varying numbers of workers.

“There will be additional cost in some sites where shift work will be required or there will be separation of people which will require a lot of management,” Herd said.

“Some sites will be less efficient than they would have been pre Covid-19 level 3.”

Herd said the lockdown meant clients could see some projects finishing later than anticipated.

Even essential businesses that have operated through the lockdown have been operating on reduced capacity – I know of a freezing works that has been operating under social distancing requirements and has been about half their normal capacity.

The economic effects will be felt for some time for most businesses.

Some people seem to have been suffering from fast food withdrawal and may soon be able to appease their cravings, if they’re prepared to wait their turn in the online queue.

But returning to work has it’s complications for some.

RNZ: Union worries fast food outlets may breach level 3 restrictions

Unite Union spokesman MIke Treen said he has been in touch with McDonald’s about training photos, which appear to show food passed to drive-through customers, closer than 2 metres away.

Covid-19.govt.nz: New Zealand will be at Alert Level 3 from Tuesday 28 April

Under Golden Rules for life at Alert Level 3 we are still being told “If you are not at work, school, exercising or getting essentials then you must be at home, the same as at Alert Level 4.

Some people may have fast food outlets in their neighbourhood, but it is still non-essential travel and it challenges “Keep your bubble as small as possible”.

The Covid level 3 rules are contradictory, as Golden Rules for businesses at Alert Level 3 say “Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up must also be contactless.” So pickups of fast food are ok?

I thought most of the food would be delivered, but obviously pickups will pick up.

This won’t worry me, I won’t be racing to the nearest fish and chip shop (which is sort of in my neighbourhood) but I can imagine the possibility of a flood of fast food famished fix finders.

I wonder if any fast food outlets try opening at midnight tonight? That could be more chaotic than the supermarket congestion (that seems to have settled down as people settle into lockdown routine).

NZ Herald: Last day of lockdown – Jacinda Ardern’s message to New Zealand

The headline is misleading – for many if not most of us the lockdown will continue much the same under Level 3.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned people not to get too complacent during the final lockdown hours.

“Our marathon will take patience and endurance but we need to finish what we started. Lives and livelihoods depend on our success as a nation.”

That’s right, it’s going to take a lot of time yet to get through this. and the transition to level 3 is going to pose some challenges for some people.

Construction problems – addressing ‘risky contracts’

At a time when a major construction boost is needed things look a bit shaky.

Fletcher Construction has had major problems – Roll call of Fletcher Buildings’ massive loss-making construction projects

Earlier this month: Ebert Construction in receivership, major apartment site locked down

Raymond Huo and one hundred deaths

Raymond Huo has blogged at Red Alert on workplace deaths but has claimed numbers that are vague and seem to be grossly overstated.

A hundred deaths and $3.5bl a year and finally, Williamson admits we have a problem….

Posted by  on November 6th, 2012

The scale of the unsafe building practices revealed in a recent clampdown raises serious questions about why Maurice Williamson and his National-ACT Government have continued with such a nonchalant approach for so long.

While Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson finally admits there is a problem, this Government has had four years in office, and in the meantime, we’ve had an average of 100 deaths a year, with workplace injuries and fatalities reportedly costing New Zealand about $3.5 billion annually.

Translate that into the devastation caused to builders and their families, the lost productivity and the additional costs to ACC; these are not the standards we would expect of a developed nation.  Why should we accept that our construction workers are twice as likely to be killed or injured on the job, compared to workers on a site in the United Kingdom?

At the heart of the problem is this ‘hands off’ approach by a Government that imagines the market will sort somehow out its own problems.

It hasn’t worked in the mining industry, and it’s not working in the construction industry.

Labour believes we have to get back to having equal opportunities for all Kiwis; we do not accept that lowering our health and safety performance for some sectors is necessary for economic recovery.

With the Christchurch rebuild starting and the Government  now at least talkingabout the Auckland housing crisis, keeping workers safe must become a recognised priority for all parties involved.

Huo isn’t clear about whether he is claiming an average hundred deaths a year in the building industry or in total, but either way it seems like he is grossly overstating figures, and there seems to be no relationship between what he’s saying and the official figures over the four years of a “National-ACT” government.

According to OSH statistics the peak was in 2010 with 77 fatalities (including 29 at Pike River).  Last year there were less fatalities (41) than 2007 or 2008, and this year the indications are for a lower total – there are 20 confirmed deaths up to 24 August.

Construction had a peak of 18 deaths in 2009 and has dropped significantly since then.

I have asked Huo to indicate where he gets his figures from. I’ll report back if he responds.

Workplace fatalities 2007 – 2012

Industry 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011† 2012*
Accommodation and Food Services 1 0 1 0 0 1
Administrative and Support Services 1 0 0 0 0 0
Agriculture 15 19 10 19 15 8
Arts and Recreation Services 1 12 12 7 1 2
Construction 10 8 18 6 4 3
Education and Training 1 0 3 2 1 0
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services 2 0 1 3 3 0
Forestry 3 4 4 4 3 5
Health Care and Social Assistance 0 1 2 1 2 0
Manufacturing 4 3 10 1 3 1
Mining and extractives 1 0 0 29 1 0
Other Services 0 1 1 0 1 0
Public Administration and Safety 0 4 2 2 1 0
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services 0 0 0 0 1 0
Transport, Postal and Warehousing 6 2 3 3 5 0
Wholesale Trade 0 0 1 0 0 0
Total 45 54 68 77 41 20

† 2011 figures are provisional and subject to change.

* 2012 figures are as at 8 August 2012. These figures are provisional and subject to change.

The statistics show the number of fatalities, notified to the Department of Labour under the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act 1992. The statistics do not include: fatalities in the maritime or aviation sectors or due to work-related crashes on the road as these are investigated by Maritime New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority and the NZ Police respectively. Nor do they include fatalities from long latency diseases caused by exposure to hazardous substances.


Update: Huo is quoting from this article from NZ Herald:

I’m seeking clarification from NZH.