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Creating a COVID-safe workplace

By Rose McCue, Director of People and Culture | 01 July 2020 

With the COVID-19 situation ever changing, it is hard to know what each new week will bring. One week it may appear that businesses are ready to return employees to the workplace, and the next week there is another surge in cases, four-hour queues for COVID-19 testing and the hoarders are back out stocking up on toilet paper.

These are the challenging times – for employees, business operators and owners – with the new "normal" never seeming to be quite defined. Despite this, we are all working together to protect the health and wellbeing of our colleagues and family members.

It is vital that we create a safe environment for our employees, whether they are beginning to return to the workplace now, never left or will be returning in the (hopefully near) future. Taking into consideration that each individual will have a different working-from-home situation, different feelings about returning to the workplace and that each employer will also have different requirements for ensuring the successful transition of staff back into the workplace, a COVIDSafe Plan is a key essential resource for any business.


Developing your COVIDSafe Plan


While your COVIDSafe Plan may need to be consistently evolving to keep pace with the status of the pandemic and your business needs,  the three areas as a minimum that it needs to address, are as follows:

  1. Social distancing
  2. Hygiene
  3. Outbreaks of COVID-19

The relevant considerations of these three are the first defence of business in the battle against COVID-19.

In detail, this three-step plan would include, as a minimum;

1. Social distancing

  • Complying with the density quotients
  • Assessing how people can safely occupy an enclosed space (e.g. meeting room, staff kitchen) at one time

2. Hygiene      

  • What additional cleaning will take place on a regular basis
  • Who is responsible for cleaning frequently touched surfaces
  • Cessation of hot desking and shared office stationery
  • Management of shared facilities

3. Outbreaks of COVID-19

  • Contact tracing register
  • Contacting the National Coronavirus hotline (1800 675 398)
  • Employee protocols for a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case


The government's initiative of a COVIDSafe App was received by the Australian people with mixed results. Some people accepted the app is a helpful tool in restricting the spread of COVID-19, while others saw it as an invasion of their privacy. The key for businesses is that although they can request individuals to use the COVIDSafe App, they cannot require individuals to have it, even on a company-supplied device.

The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission have prepared a ‘My Business CovidSafe Plan’ along with a checklist and a number of downloadable resources, to use as a starting point for all businesses to establish their plan. We have linked these resources for your convenience below.

A good plan today, is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”
– George S. Patton


COVIDSafe Checklist

This checklist is based on the NCCC’s online planning tool to help your business get back up and running. Use this checklist and the planning tool, to plan a safe and sustainable business.

COVIDSafe Plan

Parts 1 – 3 

This planning toolkit will help your business prepare a plan for the different stages of the pandemic. You should revise your plan frequently, particularly as restrictions and conditions change.

COVIDSafe Plan

Part 4

In this part, Planning for a sustainable future, you are guided through your adaptation to being a successful and sustainable business in a COVID-constrained environment. 

COVIDSafe downloadable resources

On this page you will find all the resources you need to promote a COVIDSafe environment.  Both pre-made and customisable materials have been made available.

 

Other useful links

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/
https://www.australia.gov.au/covidsafeeconomy

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