COVIDSafe working FAQsESV has compiled the following FAQs in response to questions we have received from our gas and electrical stakeholders around working under Stage 4 restrictions in Metro Melbourne.
Under Stage 4 restrictions all work sites are closed unless they are Permitted Work Premises. Permitted Work Premises include small-scale and large-scale construction sites or home renovations where the premises is vacated.
Electrical and gas services are permitted industries and can continue at Permitted Work Premises subject to a COVIDSafe Plan.
In terms of residential premises, the only exception is critical repairs to residential premises, where required for emergency or safety.
Any work required in an emergency or that is considered urgent or safety critical.
This includes servicing of gas space heaters. As servicing mitigates the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, it is considered essential work and can occur in a residential premises during Stage 4 restrictions.
This includes any gas space heater subject to a Safety Alert.
The gasfitter or their employer must have a COVIDSafe plan for each worksite, a Permitted Worker Permit, maintain hand hygiene and wear a face covering at all times.
Read more about workplace obligations and multiple work locations.
LEIs can continue their work as usual, noting that the number of jobs requiring inspection will be impacted by the restrictions imposed on electrical work.
There is no limit to the number of sites an LEI can inspect because the inspection work needs to be carried out in order to meet a statutory requirement under the Electrical Safety Act.
The Permitted Worker Scheme recommends employers should limit any requirement for employees to work at different sites.
Specialist contractors who need to move between sites should visit no more than three sites per week and subject to enhanced COVIDSafe practices. Electricians, solar installers and gasfitters are defined as specialist contractors.
All workers moving between multiple sites must observe enhanced PPE and hygiene measures. They must also keep a log of the places visited including date, time and place of attendance.
Limit movement of workers between different sites. More information:
You can travel if it is for a permitted activity, which includes work. This means that gasfitters, gas plumbers, electricians and solar installers can travel either from Melbourne to regional Victoria, or from regional Victoria to Melbourne.
Keep in mind you can only work on Permitted Work Premises which include small-scale and large-scale construction sites or home renovations where the premises is vacated.
With respect to residential work, it’s only for critical repairs required for emergency or safety. This includes the servicing of gas heaters.
Note, that if you are from Melbourne travelling to regional Victoria, you remain under Stage 4 restrictions even when you reach your destination. More information:
Can I have someone in the car/truck/ute with me e.g. can a plumber take his single employee in twin cab ute to clear a blocked sewer or repair a gas leak?
All employees, supervisors and on-site specialists are prohibited from car-pooling to and from work.
However, an adult can take an essential worker to and from their place of work without a worker permit, if the worker is their dependant and unable to transport themselves.
If needed, authorities must be able to confirm that travel is in accordance with the worker permit. More information:
Sole traders must issue a worker permit and sign the worker permit as both the employer and employee.
Information on the Permitted Worker Scheme is here: www.justice.vic.gov.au/permitted-worker-scheme
I have seen and been told about multiple ways to get around the restrictions, particularly on social media.
ESV understands industry are seeking clarity on a number of issues around what work is permitted under the current restrictions. We have sought clarification from Government and will provide advice as soon as it is available.
This does not mean it is acceptable to exploit loopholes that are yet to be resolved.
The electrical industry and gas industry as part of the greater Victorian community are required to comply with the COVID-19 restrictions.
Penalties for breaches are significant. Refer to:
Solar panels cannot be installed on residential properties under Stage 4 restrictions. However critical repairs can be made where required in an emergency or for safety reasons.
Solar panels can be installed at construction sites, including a residential renovation where the home is fully vacated, provided specialist contractors adhere to the worksite’s COVIDSafe Plan and are included in the daily workforce caps. More information:
Can an LEI visit people’s homes to inspect solar installations as well as any installation not deemed as an emergency but more essential?
More information is available from Solar Victoria here:
Where ESV has made a direction to carry out rectification works, you must respond within 10 business days from the end of Stage 4 restrictions.
This does not apply to safety critical compliance matters or an emergency that requires immediate rectification.