After nearly two months of restrictions in Australia, the government released the Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia last week. Now is the time to consider, is your Business Ready to go back to work?
The goal of the National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles together with industry-specific guidelines is to establish a virus-free economy by July by giving business the tools and resources to begin the process immediately.
The ten principles outlined by the federal government are detailed below, but the key read from Safe Work Australia are the industry-specific guidelines here.
The guidelines cover twenty-three specific industries in great detail, including from the perspective of an Employer, Small Business and Worker. It covers key areas such as risk assessment, physical distancing, hygiene, cleaning, PPE and masks.
To add to the pain, the guidelines are constantly updated. As at the time of writing this blog they had not been updated for the Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia.
The guidelines will need to be revisited as and when restrictions are changed.
SAFE WORK AUSTRALIA – THE PRINCIPLES
Recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency, that all actions in respect of COVID-19 should be founded in expert health advice and that the following principles operate subject to the measures agreed and implemented by governments through the National Cabinet process:
All workers, regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged, have the right to a healthy and safe working environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic requires a uniquely focused approach to work health and safety (WHS) as it applies to businesses, workers and others in the workplace.
To keep our workplaces healthy and safe, businesses must, in consultation with workers, and their representatives, assess the way they work to identify, understand and quantify risks and to implement and review control measures to address those risks.
As COVID-19 restrictions are gradually relaxed, businesses, workers and other duty holders must work together to adapt and promote safe work practices, consistent with advice from health authorities, to ensure their workplaces are ready for the social distancing and exemplary hygiene measures that will be an important part of the transition.
Businesses and workers must actively control against the transmission of COVID-19 while at work, consistent with the latest advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), including considering the application of a hierarchy of appropriate controls where relevant.
Businesses and workers must prepare for the possibility that there will be cases of COVID-19 in the workplace and be ready to respond immediately, appropriately, effectively and efficiently, and consistent with advice from health authorities.
Existing state and territory jurisdiction of WHS compliance and enforcement remains critical. While acknowledging that individual variations across WHS laws mean approaches in different parts of the country may vary, to ensure business and worker confidence, a commitment to a consistent national approach is key. This includes a commitment to communicating what constitutes best practice in prevention, mitigation and response to the risks presented by COVID-19.
Safe Work Australia (SWA), through its tripartite membership, will provide a central hub of WHS guidance and tools that Australian workplaces can use to successfully form the basis of their management of health and safety risks posed by COVID-19.
States and Territories ultimately have the role of providing advice, education, compliance and enforcement of WHS and will leverage the use of the SWA central hub in fulfilling their statutory functions.
The work of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission will complement the work of SWA, jurisdictions and health authorities to support industries more broadly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic appropriately, effectively and safely.
Director - Alluvia Financial
Jo Doye is the Director of award-winning bookkeeping & business advisory firm, Alluvia Financial and all round-finance whiz. She is a passion-based expert in her field who is dedicated to helping business owners discover their richness. This self-confessed beer nerd, perpetual traveller and sports-mad woman is a humble powerhouse committed to making finance understandable and fun for her clients.Alluvia Financial