WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Tasmania

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Notify WorkSafe Call 1300 366 322

Safety post-COVID

Robyn discusses the needs to still be COVID Safe. This column appeared in the Spring 2022 edition of Workplace Issues.

Tasmania is moving out of the Public Health Emergency declaration, but it doesn’t mean that the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Many people may have ‘COVID fatigue’, or think the pandemic is over, or have become complacent about the health effects of COVID-19. They may think getting the virus won’t make them too sick, so it’s okay to be more relaxed and not worry about standing on the green floor dots at the supermarket or sanitising their hands whenever they enter a shop.

But COVID-19 is still present in our community, our schools and our workplaces. As I write this, we are also seeing high rates of influenza in our community.

Both illnesses can significantly impact your business continuity if you or your workers need to stay at home due to illness. Yet you can keep your workers and customers safe from the transmission of these viruses in your workplace by continuing to apply your COVID-19 safety plan.

The move from a Public Health Emergency means that the responsibility for deciding the controls and behaviours needed to keep us safe rests with us, as employers and workers.

COVID-19 remains a workplace hazard that presents risks to our health and safety, and to business continuity. So as an employer, you have a duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 to provide a safe working environment for your workers, contractors and visitors to your workplace. That means managing the risks of COVID-19, just as you do any other workplace hazard.

Our message is: if the control measures that you currently have in place — for example, encouraging vaccination, wearing masks, density limits, social distancing and your cleaning regime — have worked for your business, then we encourage you to maintain them (with regular review to ensure they remain effective).

The best practice measures used during the emergency phase of the pandemic worked, so continue to ensure your workers stay at home if they are sick and encourage them to get tested if they have symptoms. Encourage your workers to be vaccinated for COVID-19; support physical distancing where possible; ensure there is adequate ventilation; and provide hand sanitiser for workers and visitors. Consider face masks, especially for people working indoors and in close proximity or with people who are at risk of getting very sick.

While you are no longer required to document your control measures in a COVID-19 Safety Plan, it is still best practice. And if you already have a COVID-19 Safety Plan, now is a good time to review and update it. Remember to consult with your workers when you are developing or reviewing your plan. They will have great ideas on how to implement these measures so they will be practical and work in your environment.

Our inspectors will continue to visit workplaces to check for compliance with the work health and safety laws, and this includes inspecting how employers are managing the risks of COVID-19. They will continue to take a supportive approach, providing education, advice, and when necessary, directions on the actions you need to take to meet your responsibilities and keep your workers healthy.

I encourage you to go to our website fact sheets and templates that will help you conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment and then review or draw up your COVID-19 Safety Plan. You’ll also find links to other important websites, including the dedicated Tasmanian Government website coronavirus.tas.gov.au (external link), which has best practice guides for industry, any Public Health directions and restrictions, and the most current guidance for close contacts and people with COVID-19.

Updated: 12th October 2022
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