More businesses can start operating again under Alert Level Three on 28 April, however they must take health and safety measures to keep their workers safe
Many businesses will be looking to restart after several weeks in lockdown. It is vital they plan now for resuming operations and maintaining good health and safety practices – not only to prevent COVID-19 transmission but also to ensure the return to work doesn’t result in people being injured or killed from other work related risks.
Before they reopen PCBUs should self-assess their ability to operate safely at alert level 3. This includes thinking about how they’re going to manage risks and protect workers and customers under alert level 3.
Ideally, PCBUs should document their thinking in a plan and share that plan with their workers. It’s important to note that PCBUs should be involving workers when assessing risks and identifying solutions.
It’s important to note that when doing any planning, until such time as the alert level changes to alert level 3, PCBUs must still observe alert level 4 restrictions.
What do PCBUs need to think about when doing their self-assessment?
When doing their self-assessment PCBUs should think about how they’re going to manage any risk they’ve identified because of COVID-19 including the risk of exposure and transmission at work. PCBUs should also think about how their usual risks might change, as well as any new risks that might arise from implementing control measures for COVID-19.
PCBUs should also start to think about working with their workers to:
- address the risks of associated with COVID-19, as well as risks that may arise due to a return to operations
- understand the practicalities of changing work arrangements
- be confident that new health and safety practices will enable them and their families to remain well.
They should also start to think about how they’re going to get their day-to-day operations up and running again safely, including what they might need to do:
- for their people, and ensuring they have considered health and wellness issues for them
- for their plant and equipment, and
- amend their approach to work to allow for COVID-19 risks, including separation distances and good hygiene practices.
There’s lots of guidance that can help PCBUs with their self-assessment, including:
- how to manage the risks created by the pandemic, including how to complete risk assessments, and
- engaging with workers.
The Ministry of Health also has guidance, including:
PCBUs can also refer to any specific guidance developed by their sector or industry.
What do essential services already operating under alert level 4 need to do?
For PCBUs operating as an essential service under alert level 4, the controls they have in place need to continue once we transition to alert level 3.
Ideally, essential service PCBUs should also develop a documented version of their current plan and share that with their workers (if they don’t already have one).
Now is also an opportunity for those PCBUs to:
- reflect on what they have learned during the past weeks and implement any changes needed
- ensure that they are familiar with the most up-to-date Ministry of Health guidance, and
- revise their plans for working safely during the COVID-19 pandemic