The Government has released its 3 step plan to return to a COVIDSafe economy. As part of Step 1 that includes:
- Continuing to work from home if that works for you and your employer
- Your employer implementing a COVIDSafe Plan
- Avoiding public transport during peak hours.
This article concentrates on what an employer’s COVIDSafe plan should include. The National COVID19 Coordination Commission has released a toolkit to help employers plan for the different stages of the pandemic. You can read it here.
Safe Work Australia
There are a number of important industry specific resources on the Safe Work Australia (‘SWA’) website. What your employer needs to plan specifically will be dependent on the business’ industry and individual circumstances. However, in general, your employer must first complete a risk assessment and follow SWA guidelines to understand how their business risks have changed because of COVID‑19 and make a plan to manage them.
The plan must ensure the safety of their employees and customers by broadly dealing with the following:
- Prepare and Prevent: making sure the workplace is safe and clean
- Maintain Good Hygiene
- Stay Physically Distant
- Follow Updated Government Advice
2. Understand how to respond to a COVID‑19 infection.
Prepare and Prevent: making sure the workplace is safe and clean
As per the national principles agreed by Australian Governments, businesses and workers must actively control against the spread of COVID-19 while at work, consistent with the latest health advice, including considering the application of a hierarchy of appropriate controls where relevant.
Maintain Good Hygiene
- Complete the Safe Work Australia cleaning check list
- Complete the Safe Work Australia health, hygiene and facilities check list
- Print signs and posters on good hygiene and hand washing practices
- Talk to workers about how to maintain good hygiene and cleaning.
Stay Physically Distant
- Review the Safe Work Australia advice on physical distancing
- Complete the physical distancing check list
- Print signs and posters on how to ensure physical distancing
- Talk to workers about how to stay physically distant and safe.
Follow Updated Government Advice AND additional specific business or industry changes
- Review Safe Work Australia industry specific information (this will be updated regularly)
- Complete the what can I do to keep my workers safe at the workplace and limit the spread of COVID-19 checklist
- Review the mandatory public health directions that apply to your business (these will change as time goes on)
- Talk to workers about changes specific to your business.
Understand how to respond to a COVID‑19 infection
Employers must plan for how to respond if there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID‑19 associated with the business. The plan will depend on the circumstances of the business and whether the affected person has physically been in the workplace.
Your employers’ plan to deal with COVID19 affected employees should include:
- outline what needs to change to ensure they can follow guidance swiftly
- outline what their first action will be if notified of a possible COVID‑19 infection
- state how they will clearly communicate with staff and meet privacy obligations
- think about they you will clean your workplace after an infection
- outline how the business will continue to trade or reopen.
You can find out more information about your employer’s lawful safety compliance obligations by accessing the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission Business Plan or the Safe Work Australia website.