What can be done to prepare for the possibility of a viral outbreak such as novel Coronavirus?
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 ('the Act'), employers are required to provide and maintain, as far as is practicable, a working environment in which their workers are not exposed to health risks. This includes situations where employees and contractors may be at risk of contracting viruses such as the novel Coronavirus.
Employers need to keep up to date with the latest health warnings from the Australian government to ensure that any action taken is measured and appropriate.
If there is concern about the risk of employees being exposed to viruses of this nature while at work, a risk assessment should be carried out with reference to the latest information available at the links below. Employers should develop prevention and control strategies appropriate to the workplace, in consultation with their employees and ensure that all employees are aware of and follow these strategies.
These strategies may include
- Providing clear advice about quarantine periods following at-risk travel or contact with at-risk or unwell people, in accordance with advice from the Department of Health
- Fitness for work policies and procedures, including instructions on actions employees should take if they have symptoms consistent with a virus, such as fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath. These procedures can include a medical clearance for return to work where appropriate.
- Dealing with contingencies such as staff shortages
- Minimising or eliminating the need for work travel, particularly to known risk areas – refer to government advice at Smart Traveller
- Reminding staff about the need to ensure good personal hygiene and encourage regular hand washing
- Regular communications with staff should the situation or organisational policies or procedures change
Australian Health Direct website, which includes a symptom checker
Smart Traveller provides the latest Australian travel warnings.
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