Coronavirus - What can be done to prepare for the possibility of a viral outbreak in the workplace?
Under current legislation, 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 (COVID-19).
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.
- 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 Department of Health website
- WA Department of Health website
- Australian Health Direct website, which includes a symptom checker
- The World Health Organisation website, which includes further information and updates about Coronavirus.
- Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 World Health Organisation
- Availability of disposable respirators during the COVID-19 Pandemic - WorkCover Queensland
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for PCBUs - Safe Work Australia
- Circular 4/2020 – COVID-19 and employment flexibilities - Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety - Labour Relations
- Smart Traveller provides the latest Australian travel warnings.
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