Under alert Level 3 all businesses that are permitted to resume operations need to have a COVID-19 safety plan that sets out how they’ll operate safely, says the Head of WorkSafe’s General Inspectorate Jo Pugh
To help meet the requirements for Level 3 work arrangements, WorkSafe New Zealand has developed a template to help workplaces consider the risks introduced by COVID-19 and how they can mitigate them. The template is available on the WorkSafe website.
It is critical that businesses involve their workers in the development of the plan and then discuss and share the plan with everyone at work – including workers, contractors, and suppliers – before the work starts.
The purpose of the plan is to ensure the health and safety of workers and others is not put at risk from changes that are made to work arrangements because of this pandemic. We know that for some workplaces, resumption of business in a way that minimises risk to workers is going to be hard to do and this template will support them through the process of considering risk, and controlling it.
It is also important that businesses continue to identify and control non-COVID-19 related risks that exist in their operations and consider whether the pandemic risks require any change to management of those pre-existing risks.
The key steps necessary to minimise the risk of passing on the COVID-19 virus at work are:
- supporting people with flu-like symptoms to self-isolate
- ensuring separation distances
- disinfecting surfaces
- maintaining good hygiene, particularly hand hygiene and good cough/sneeze etiquette
- keeping records to facilitate contact tracing.
The template is not compulsory to use but businesses need to have a plan to protect their workforce and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For businesses operating as an essential service under alert level 4, a COVID-19 safety plan is not required. However, the controls they have in place need to continue once we transition to alert Level 3.
Our first approach with businesses will be to make sure they’re aware of the need for a plan and point them to the resources available on our and industry websites to assist them. We are making proactive calls to businesses to do just that. In the event of sustained non-compliance, we will consider our enforcement options.
Worksafe also recommends seeking advice from industry organisations, who may have industry specific guidance and assistance available.