Many workplaces across Australia and around the world are looking to recommence their operations and start their new normal. With restrictions easing, now is the time to start looking at your COVID Safe Plan and to start retraining and re-inducting your teams to ensure your workplace is return to work ready post COVID-19.
The National Cabinet has agreed to some National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles which include:
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
Key Focus Areas for your Workplace:
Policies and procedures will need to be updated for your workplace. In this new world we navigate, there are certain guidelines that will need to be adhered to and new measures in place to ensure your workplace remains a safe environment for staff. To find the information specific to your industry and workplace, visit Safe Work Australia.
Social and Physical Distancing
Current health advice is that everyone, including people at workplaces, must implement physical distancing measures wherever possible. By ensuring there are 4 square metres of space per person and ensuring a physical distance of at least 1.5m between people, it will reduce the likelihood of transmission of COVID-19 in your workplace.
- Consider adjustments to the layout of your workspace, including desks and workstations
- Add floor and wall markings that define the 1.5m spacing where team members are known to congregate
- Review tasks and manual process that involve more than one person working in close proximity.
A key way to minimise the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus in your workplace is to implement and enforce good hygiene practices for workers and visitors. Businesses should put processes and procedures into action to regularly monitor and review the implementation of hygiene measures, ensuing they are maintained.
- Wash hands for at least 20secs with soap and dry using a paper towel
- Before and after eating
- When sneezing and coughing
- Once finished in the bathroom
- After a cigarette break
- When completing a task that requires the use of shared equipment
- Providing alcohol-based hand sanitiser when it is not possible to wash hands
- Place posters near handwashing facilities to ensure staff know the correct way to wash there hands
- Ensure staff do not come to work if they are sick
Cleaning and Disinfecting
The implementation of routine cleaning and disinfecting is crucial in maintaining a COVID Safe workplace. At a minimal, PPE such as gloves should be worn when cleaning. Cleaning should be looked at in three sperate phases:
- Cleaning immediately after use:
- Kitchen benches, sinks and taps, appliances, and utensils
- Shared equipment such as staplers, scissors etc.
- Structured routine cleaning throughout the day
- Desks and electronic equipment
- Communal areas
- Emptying of bins
- Deep cleaning of your workplace if someone tests positive to COVID-19
Depending on your industry, there are requirements in place for collecting information from customer and visitor to your business. Whether you’re a café, nail solon or corporate company bases in an office, you will be required to collect the details of those who visit your business for contact tracing and ensure you adhere to the social distancing requirements.
- Name and contact details of your visitors
- Sign in and sign out date and time
- Securely store this information for 56 days
Upon Returning to Work
Understanding the key requirements when bringing your teams back into the workplace is only the first step to ensuring a COVID Safe environment for them. You need to re-induct your team with the appropriate updated training, policies and procedures implemented in your business.
Communication and Empathy
Communication is key. When staff have been isolated and removed from a work environment for a long period of time, uncertainty, questions and concern will surely arise when staff aren’t clearly communicated the return to work process. Think about how you will let you teams know:
- Who will be returning to the workplace
- Are they returning full time or part time
- Is it a staggered approach to having staff back to work
- If people still work from home if they feel more comfortable doing to
- Expectations of those returning to the workplace and what they can expect from you as a business
Updated Policies, Procedures and Training
Ideally, you should have an LMS in place to re-induct, allocate training, assess and track the complete of new training for your teams. The assessment element is crucial in this process as it provides you the evidence and reporting you need as a business that your staff have understood the new processes and policies.
- Prior to re-commencement, provide updated policies to all staff
- Allocate and schedule key learning programs that cover all updated areas of policy
- Social Distancing
- Assess and record each team members understanding of the key learnings
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Mental health and wellbeing play just as an importing part for staff as physical wellbeing in the workplace. In these changing times, the uncertainty and change back into a new working environment can impact the day the day of your staff.
- Managing stress and anxiety of returning to work
- Disruption in old routines and productivity
- Alternate transport for those catching public transport
- Continued support of remote work where needed
- Ensure an open and free culture for all so to encourage discussion around mental health
Managing a Confirmed COVID-19 Case
Even after implementing these suggested updates to policies and providing the necessary training for your staff, your workplace may still experience a positive case of COVID-19. You need to prepare and have a place in place for the following:
- Communication avenues to staff and visitors
- Ability to readjust back to work from home structure
- Testing of all staff in the workplace
- Deep cleaning processes
To see how dita Solutions can assist you with ensuring your teams can be easily re-inducted back into the workplace post COVID-19, please contact us today.
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