WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Tasmania

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Notify WorkSafe Call 1300 366 322
Notify WorkSafe Call 1300 366 322

Create your COVID-19 Safety Plan

Last Updated:30 Jun 2022 9:41am

This guide:

  • will help you create your COVID-19 Safety Plan
  • will make sure you have appropriate and effective controls in your workplace for reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in your workplace.

Conduct a risk assessment

The Work Health and Safety Act 2012 requires you to identify hazards in your workplace, assess their risks to health and safety, and implement control measures to reduce those risks.

COVID-19 is workplace hazard, so like any other workplace hazard, you must follow this risk assessment process to comply with your work health and safety duties.

Doing a risk assessment will help you to identify and assess your COVID-19 risks, and determine what controls will be suitable and effective to reduce these risks. These controls will then make up your COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Risks should be considered in terms of:

  • risks to your workers
  • risks to your customers and businesses that you service
  • risks to visitors entering your workplace
  • risks to the continuity of your business.

For detailed guidance on doing a COVID-19 risk assessment, see:

Write a plan

Documenting your control measures in a plan is one of the best ways to show your commitment to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace. It ensures all your workers know what your control measures are and what is expected of them.

You can use our template to create your COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Implement your plan

Once you’ve created your COVID-19 Safety Plan, you need to put the control measures into practice in your daily operations.

You may need to modify existing work procedures to incorporate the new controls, and workers will need to be instructed and receive training on the new requirements.

You need to implement all the controls identified in the plan where practical. The more controls you can apply in your workplace, the more likely it is that you will reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Consult with your workers

You must consult with your workers and their health and safety representatives as you conduct your risk assessment and develop, implement and review your plan and control measures. Who else knows your business better than the people that do the work? Get their input and involve them in the decision making process to get a better outcome.

You must also provide your workers with the information, instruction and training needed to ensure they know what to do, how to do it, when to apply controls and why.

It’s the actual behaviours of your workers, contractors and customers while in your workplace that will determine if COVID-19 will impact your business.

Review your COVID-19 Safety Plan

Your COVID-19 Safety Plan should be reviewed to help you ensure the safety of your workers, contractors and customers.

Regularly check coronavirus.tas.gov.au (external link) and update your plan if necessary.

You should also review your plan if you change your business operations, your systems of work, or the work tasks your workers perform. You’ll need to complete a risk assessment to see how your health and safety risks have changed and help identify what changes you need to make to manage them.

Control measures

Maintain physical distance

Physical distancing is one of the strongest ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Maintaining at least 1.5 metres between people is recommended.

Workers

Review the layout of your workplace and work processes to consider how you can allow your workers to spread out and stay 1.5 metres apart. You may need to redesign your workplace layout, or change the processes and the way workers worker together.

Ways to do this include:

  • displaying signs to remind workers to maintain physical distancing
  • placing stickers, crosses or other marks on the floor to designate where workers should stand (for example on processing lines)
  • re-arranging furniture so chairs are 1.5 metres apart.

Limiting the number of workers in enclosed spaces also helps maintain physical distancing.

If any of your workers can work from home, this may help create more space between workers who remain at your workplace.

Visitors

Ways to ensure physical distancing by customers, patrons and other visitors include:

  • displaying signs at the entrance telling visitors to maintain physical distancing
  • placing stickers, crosses or other marks on the floor to guide customers where to stand in queues
  • re-arranging furniture so chairs are 1.5 metres apart (for example in cafes or at hair salons).

Empower your workers to remind visitors of your physical distancing requirements.

In some situations physical distancing isn’t practicable; for example, groups of people seated at the same table in a café. In this case, there should be 1.5 metres between groups of people.

Finally, have you considered density limits in your workplace, and how this may impact the ability to maintain physical distancing?

Other measures

Where it’s not reasonably practicable to ensure the recommended physical distancing, use other control measures. Masks and Perspex screens can protect workers and visitors when physical distancing cannot be achieved.

Facemasks are an effective COVID-19 control measure, when worn consistently and correctly. See our guidance on conducting a risk assessment for wearing face masks.

Many workplaces have adopted perspex barriers in high traffic areas to protect workers, particularly where physical distancing is possible (for example, supermarket checkouts). If you use these barriers, make sure they are cleaned regularly. Looking at your work processes will help you identify high risk areas where this may be useful.

Stay home if unwell

Stopping people from entering your workplace who are unwell or displaying COVID-19 symptoms can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Workers

Direct any worker with COVID-19 symptoms to stay at home until they have a COVID-19 test and confirm they do not have COVID-19. Educate and train your workers on the main symptoms of COVID-19; find information on these at coronavirus.tas.gov.au (external link).

Look at working from home arrangements (where possible). This will significantly reduce the impact on your operations while workers isolate at home awaiting their COVID-19 test results and are unwell.

Visitors

Ways to reduce the risk of customers, patrons and other visitors entering your workplace with COVID-19 include:

  • displaying signs at the entrance telling visitors not to enter if they have COVID-19 symptom or cold/flu symptoms.
  • asking people to leave your premises if they display symptoms associated with COVID-19
  • ensuring contractors/suppliers confirm they are well when ‘signing in’
  • updating your induction procedures to ensure all contractors are aware of your COVID-19 controls
  • empowering workers to monitor visitors, to check if they are unwell, and to ask them to leave if they are not.

Hygiene

Having appropriate hygiene controls in place and encouraging your workers to have good hygiene practices can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Hand washing using soap and water or using hand sanitiser are important hygiene practices. Avoiding touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth is also important.

Ways to encourage good hygiene practices include encouraging everyone to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and dry them with clean paper towel; or use 70% alcohol-based hand sanitiser if unable to wash hands. This should occur not just after going to the toilet or before/after eating, but when changing tasks and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces.

Display signs on correct hand washing in toilets and staff break rooms.

You must provide all supplies and equipment necessary to ensure good hygiene practices can be followed.

Cleaning

Cleaning schedule

Prepare, implement, and maintain a schedule for routinely cleaning and (where appropriate) disinfecting your workplace.

Your cleaning schedule should:

  • consider the level of risk of COVID-19 transmission within your workplace
  • identify what needs to be cleaned and disinfected, how often, and how the cleaning/disinfecting is to be done
  • be written down and displayed so workers are aware of the requirements.

Important points to remember when cleaning include:

  • clean frequently touched or used surfaces/areas regularly throughout the day; clean less frequently used surfaces and or areas at least daily
  • keep a record of shared rooms (for example meeting rooms and tea rooms) and when they were last cleaned
  • start cleaning the cleanest surface first, progressively moving towards the dirtiest surface
  • when surfaces are clean, they should be as dry as possible, to prevent slips/falls and the spread of viruses through droplets.

Important points to remember when disinfecting include:

  • disinfecting means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. These can be liquids, sprays or wipes, and are labelled ‘disinfectant’ on their packaging
  • disinfectants are usually only necessary if a surface is contaminated with potentially infectious material, or if your workplace has many customers or others entering each day
  • it is important to clean before disinfecting.

Cleaning staff

Cleaning staff must sign the cleaning schedule each time they clean an area or item.

Consult with your workers responsible for cleaning or your cleaning contractor about your requirements.

Instruct workers in the safe use of cleaning chemicals. Make sure safety data sheets are available. Make sure workers wear gloves and eye protection when handling and preparing disinfecting solutions.

Ensure cleaning staff can maintain the increased cleaning schedule. Discuss any supplies or equipment needed.

Cleaning supplies

You must provide all supplies and equipment necessary to ensure your cleaning schedule and requirements are implemented.

Select and use appropriate cleaning and disinfecting products.

Implement procedures for the safe disposal of contaminated waste.

See Safe Work Australia’s information on cleaning and disinfecting (external link).

Cleaning plan

You should develop a cleaning plan that sets out how you will clean your business if you have had a COVID positive case on site.

Providing information, training and instruction to workers

Provide your workers, contractors and volunteers with information, training, and instruction on:

  • the risks of COVID-19 transmission in your workplace
  • your COVID-19 Safety Plan and its control measures to reduce those risks.

You must also provide your customers, patrons and other visitors to your workplace with information about your control measures, and how they must follow these.

Ways to do this include:

  • displaying posters in your workplace
  • holding training sessions and including information in inductions
  • providing written or digital information.

Workers and visitors must comply, so far as they area reasonably able to, with any reasonable instruction you give to manage the risks of COVID-19.

Providing adequate supervision (in implementing the plan)

Provide adequate supervision to your workers to ensure that your control measures are implemented.

Provide your supervisors with guidance to ensure that COVID-19 controls are applied and enforced at all times. Supervisors must ensure that these controls are incorporated into daily work practices and processes.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are an important part of keeping the Australian community safe and healthy. A person who is vaccinated against COVID-19 is much less likely to suffer serious health effects from the virus if they catch COVID 19.

However, a vaccinated person may still unknowingly carry and spread the virus to others around them, including workers and others in their workplace. Because of this, even if your workers are vaccinated, you must continue to implement your other control measures.

Ask your workers if they have been vaccinated. While it is not mandatory for workers to share this information with you, most will. This information can then be used to inform your risk assessment when deciding whether to make vaccination mandatory in your workplace.

Workers in some industries may be required to be vaccinated. This should be reflected in your COVID-19 Safety Plan. To see which workers are currently covered by this, see coronavirus.tas.gov.au (external link).

You can only require your workers to be vaccinated where:

  • a specific law requires a worker to be vaccinated
  • the requirement is permitted by an enterprise agreement, other registered agreement or employment contract, or
  • it would be lawful and reasonable for an employer to give their workers a direction to be vaccinated, which is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

One or more of these circumstances can apply when you are requiring a worker to be vaccinated.

See the Fair Work Ombudsman’s information on mandatory vaccinations at coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au (external link).

Risk assessments to mandate vaccination

Where vaccinations are not mandated, do a risk assessment to determine if the risks of COVID-19 are significant and if mandating vaccinations would reduce those risks. This should be done in consultation with your workers.

Your risk assessment should address matters including:

  • the nature of each workplace: whether physical distancing is possible, and whether the business is providing an essential service
  • how much workers need to work with/come into contact with the public, what kind of people they will interact with
  • the extent of community transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace’s location
  • the terms of any government mandates in place where the workplace is located
  • each worker’s circumstances, including their duties and the risks associated with their work; and if they have a legitimate reason for not being vaccinated (for example, a medical reason).

See WorkSafe’s guidance note on How to conducting a COVID-19 risk assessment.

Ventilation

COVID-19 droplets can spread between people and be inhaled more easily indoors than outdoors. Good ventilation can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, so review the ventilation systems in your workplace.

Ways to do this include:

  • open a window to allow greater air movement in a room or area
  • avoid using rooms where there is no air conditioning
  • leave a door open when having multiple persons in the room.

Contact an air conditioning professional if you want to have your air conditioning arrangements assessed.

See Safe Work Australia’s information on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (external link).

Outbreak management

Your COVID-19 Safety Plan should include how you will respond if there is a COVID-19 case or transmission in your workplace.

See coronavirus.tas.gov.au (external link) for information on preparing a case and outbreak management plan, including a template.

Incident notification for COVID-19

You must notify WorkSafe Tasmania when it is a confirmed that someone has contracted COVID-19 through carrying out work and:

  • the person  dies; or
  • the person requires treatment as an in-patient in a hospital; or
  • the reason the person contracted COVID-19 is reliably attributable to carrying out work that involves providing treatment or care to a person; or involves contact with human blood or body substances. In this case, the carrying out of work must be a significant contributing factor to the infection being contracted.

You must notify WorkSafe Tasmania immediately after you become aware of the situation. Call WorkSafe Tasmania on 1300 366 322 or submit an online notification.