Are you planning or working on a construction project? Even in urban, peri-urban and rural areas there are environmental and economic risks associated with the spread of pests, weeds and diseases.
The movement of soil, other material and plant on and off-site during construction work presents a high risk of moving pests, weeds and diseases throughout the landscape. The introduction of a new problem species not only has potential impacts on our environment, it can mean many additional costs for the new home owner and their neighbours. Even relatively weedy environments can be further impacted by the introduction of previously excluded weeds that could have significant impacts on the livelihoods of neighbouring properties e.g. Paterson’s curse, serrated tussock or Chilean needle grass.
We often think that wilderness areas alone need protection from weeds, pests and diseases, however patches of native vegetation in urban and agricultural landscapes also support many of our most threatened species. Introducing a new threat to one of these areas can push these species closer to the brink of extinction.
There is an increasing expectation, auditing and enforcement of hygiene plans associated with building and construction. When planning a new project, working with contractors and sourcing and moving materials off-site it is important that you consider what else you could be moving around the environment and plan to minimise the risks.
For landholders planning a building and construction project:
Make sure that you clearly communicate to contractors working on your property the need to arrive with clean vehicles and machinery to avoid introducing new weeds, pests or diseases. Also let them know if there are any weeds (or other problem species) in the area in which they will be working, to prevent them spreading further on your property or to the next site in their schedule. You have responsibilities under the Weed Management Act 1999 to control declared weeds on your property.
Movement of soil off site can become more complex with infestations of declared weeds. If soil contains declared weed seed you may need to keep it on site so you will need to have room for this and a plan to control any resulting issues (e.g. germinating weeds). This is also something to think about when sourcing fill and other materials to bring onto your property – always ask if it is weed and disease free.
Hygiene tips for contractors:
As a contractor visiting multiple sites you, your vehicles and heavy machinery are potential vectors that can cause multiple clients a huge future expense. Having in place, implementing and promoting good hygiene protocols in the workplace can give your business a competitive advantage, as more and more clients are looking for these assurances as part of contractor selection. Cleaning your vehicles and equipment before you arrive to start a job is essential. Some planning at the start of a job can mean you don’t need to do this multiple times a day:
- Park off site and have a look first,
- Ask about and identify any weed infestations before you start work, then start in the un-infested (clean) areas and work towards the infested (dirty) areas,
- Plan how you will exit with your machinery from a property, making sure you do not track through clean areas.
Between each site make sure you follow the Check, Clean, Disinfect, Dry protocols:
Check, Clean and Dry your vehicle, machinery and equipment between uses, and if you can’t be sure your gear will dry before you next use it, Disinfect as well.
- When washing, hose off all the mud you can find, and pay particular attention to the hard-to-reach places such as tyre tread, mudguards and under cowlings.
- Don’t forget to also wash your muddy gear and clothing.
- If your vehicle or equipment is unlikely to dry completely, or you are visiting a sensitive site such as an intensive farm production area or conservation reserve, use F10 disinfectant to kill any microorganisms that might be hiding (be careful where you drain it – although it is a biodegradable, low-toxicity disinfectant, F10 should be kept away from waterways).
Biosecurity kits and F10
NRM South supplies F10 and biosecurity kits. See the price list here.