Ending vaccine pass requirements puts employers at risk


If you rush to abandon vaccine passes and a staff member catches Omicron, then goes on to develop long Covid, losing their ability to work as a result, there is a case to be made that perhaps their employer didn’t do enough to protect them, a health and safety training provider warns

Besafe Training General Manager Jason Braithwaite is urging business owners to conduct workplace risk assessments before scrapping vaccine passes.

“Covid is a workplace risk, and as such employers are responsible for conducting a risk assessment.

Worksafe and the Employment Relations Authority could take a dim view of an employer who failed, at the very least, to conduct a proper workplace risk assessment.”

The fact that businesses can choose to continue with the vaccine pass system – which some may feel risks losing them customers – is just another fishhook because it leaves the decision in the employers’ hands.

“What is more important? The health and safety of your staff or losing customers? Is the fear of losing customers realistic when most Kiwis are vaccinated? These are all questions employers should be asking before rushing headlong into abandoning the vaccine pass system.”

  1. Conduct a workplace risk assessment

A workplace risk assessment is used to identify a hazard and the risks associated with that. With Covid those risks include catching Covid, infecting others and long Covid.

  1. Put in place controls

Taking all reasonable steps to control the risk of Covid in the workplace could include social distancing measures, better ventilation, a process for serving customers that keeps everybody safe, splitting the business into separate teams that don’t mix and also stipulating only high-quality masks.

  1. Review

“Covid is fast moving and there’s a lot of confusion about what people and businesses should be doing. Considering that, I would recommend at least a weekly review of your pandemic protocols – but the actual frequency will depend on your levels of risk, as determined by the workplace risk assessment.”

Braithwaite urges business leaders to beware of Covid fatigue, where staff members and management may start to get careless or less conscientious around the company’s Covid protocols.

“Regular risk assessments help maintain vigilance and awareness, which are critical factors when it comes to keep your team and your customers healthy and safe.”