Health and Safety at work during COVID-19

Australia is emerging from the strange haze of lockdown restrictions following the Federal Government’s Three Step Framework.  In Queensland we are in Stage One and we will move into Stage Two eased restrictions, following State Health advice over the coming weeks, from the 12th June 2020.

Your workplace may still be operating with modified services and additional safety and hygiene rules, or you might be looking to return to work. For some businesses this can lead to uncertainty about where to start. We are encountering the same questions and have unpacked some information that you may find helpful as you navigate the new WHS landscape in a COVID SAFE business. 

Firstly, let us discuss a few facts and frequently asked questions: 

  1. What is a COVID SAFE business?  

Queensland businesses are currently required to take action to manage COVID-19 in the workplace and should have a plan in place to demonstrate this. As this is an existing measure linked to current WHS legislation we recommend that this plan, or a summary of it, should be displayed as evidence that a business is COVID SAFE.  Work Health and Safety Queensland has released a Guide to keeping your workplace safe, clean and healthy. For the industries that have been deemed as higher risk (such as cafes, beauty salons etc.) they must complete a mandatory checklist before opening. For example, restaurants and cafes can use this checklist as part of their COVID Plan and they should display this checklist as evidence that they are COVID SAFE. All checklists for these high risk industries are available here. 

  1. Who has duties and obligations for Work Health Safety? 

Workers have an obligation to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the health and safety of others in the workplace. Workers must co-operate with any reasonable policy or procedure that relates to health or safety at the workplace, including in relation to COVID-19. 

Employers must provide employees with a safe and healthy work environment. Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), employers must assess risks and implement and review control measures to prevent or minimise exposure to these risks. There must be consultation with workers and their representatives, such as Health and Safety Advisors or Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) on workplace measures to address COVID-19.  Employers also have a duty to report and notify of any COVID-19 cases at their workplace.  

  1. What about my workplace? What is the plan for people to return to work and what should I look out for when I go back 

Employees should start to make a return to the workplace if it suits both the employer and employee. It may remain the best solution to work remotely from home. If attending a workplace again there may need to be a change in work rosters to allow for appropriate physical distancing, including one person per four square metres.  Workplaces should develop this as part of their broader COVID-19 planning.  

Some other measures that could be considered to make a COVID-19 safe workplace include: 

  • Implement and promote high order controls (e.g. social distancing rules, creation of separate walkways through worksites, limits on numbers of people in workspaces, lunchrooms, bathrooms, install barriers and screens). 
  • Implement and promote good hygiene practices including the importance of hand hygiene and workplace cleaning – remember employers must provide sufficient cleaning and disinfection supplies and equipment, or engage a suitable cleaning service. 
  • Supply and use personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary and in accordance with the relevant State and National guidelines. 
  • Consider industry specific advice if you are in a higher risk workplaces or industry where the health of workers or people who are at the workplace are at higher risk (e.g. residential aged care, healthcare). 

Here at Simpatico Safety we are doing our own COVID-19 Work Health and Safety Plan, and we are available for advice on your planning process or any training requirements that come out of your planning.  

We will soon be offering training in Infection Control, HLTINFCOV001 – ‘Comply with infection prevention and control policies and procedures‘,and we already train the WHSQ approved Health and Safety Representative course (online until July), plus Certificate IV in Work Health Safety and other accredited short safety courses. 

Please visit our page for course dates and prices, plenty of online flexible offerings available as well. 

Upcoming courses at our Cleveland campus include:  

HLTAID001 Provide CPR – 26 June 2020 

HLTAID003 Provide First Aid – 26 June 2020 

HLTAID004 Provide an Emergency First Aid response in an Education and Care Setting – 26 June 2020 

Health and Safety Representative – Face-to-face – July 6 -10 2020  

BSB41415 Certificate IV WHS – Face-to-face – July 20 -24 2020 

Health and Safety Representative – Online – Block One- June 8 -9 2020 

BSB41415 Certificate IV WHS – Online – start anytime

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