We are all experiencing unprecedented times due to the coronavirus situation, and MiSAFE is offering a free 2-month subscription to its Online WHS System. We will include some valuable training and procedures to inform your workers, contractors, suppliers etc.
If you would like to sign up to our system for the free 2 months subscription, please contact us on 07 5641 2101 or via our contact form here.
In Australia, what are businesses responsible for under Work Health and Safety laws?
Businesses are responsible for:
- the work environment, systems of work, machinery and equipment are safe and properly maintained
- information, training, instruction and supervision are provided
- adequate workplace facilities are available for workers
- any accommodation you provide to your workers is safe
- workers’ health and workplace conditions are monitored
- safe storage and handling of hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods.
Note: the above list is not exhaustive.
So, does this include Coronavirus?
Absolutely it does, your company should implement policies and procedures that will help reduce the likelihood of your employees being exposed to the virus while under your duty of care. You also have a responsibility to implement policies and procedures to help ensure that an employee does not come to work and infect other workers should they be suspected of having contracted the virus.
So, what should you do?
Firstly, it is very important you keep informed and up to date of the risks relating to the virus. A good idea is to obtain information though experts and governing bodies. It is also very important that key personnel are kept updated, and they communicate this information to your workers.
Once you have the knowledge you could then assess the level of risk to your business. As per any risk assessment you should-
- Exposure to workers
- Depending on what industry you are in exposure to clients/patrons/contractors and general public
- Your workers activities and place of work
- Other items that could cause exposure like plant and equipment etc
- The likelihood of exposure of staff to the virus
- Frequency of exposure depending on activities and places of work identify
- The severity to your workers and your business
- Severity to clients/patrons/contractors and the general public etc
- Develop Control measures
A good way to develop control measures is by using the hierarchy of control measures. Work your way down each the control measure for each risk you have identified and ask yourself:
- can the risk be Eliminated – remove the exposure to the hazard
- can I use Substitution – replace the hazard (in this case workers activities, places of work and other items identified)
- can I use Engineering controls – Isolate people from the hazard
- can I use Administrative controls – Change the way people work, educate the workers, introduce hygiene processes, implement policies and procedures etc.
- Provide PPE – have I provided fit for purpose personal protective equipment for my workers?
When it comes down to it providing clear and regular updates to workers and people identified in your risk assessment is the most important control to put in place. You should also review the risks and control measures identified on a regular basis to ensure that they are working, or you haven’t missed something.
You would then need to implement a policy in relation to the virus or any other virus for that matter. Policies are important as they show your company’s commitment to an issue, it also helps reinforce and educate employees of certain company standards. This policy would include and address certain issues such as if a worker suspects that they have contracted the disease that they must inform management at the soonest possible time and is a process of informing management. You should also articulate your company’s commitment to provide a safe workplace and introduce cleanliness and prevention techniques. You could also consider a working at home policy if a worker suspects they have the virus, as you still have an obligation as an employer even if the employee works at home for example as an employer you will need to ensure that you are kept informed of your employee progress. You will also need to keep the employee informed on any changes to policies, procedures and control measures that may have occurred whilst they have been at home.
Once you have developed your policy/s you should then develop procedures around the policy, most importantly you must make sure your workers are trained and inducted into these policies and procedures. Workers will need to have clear knowledge of the control measures developed and what they should do if they do not feel well or feel they have contracted the virus.
It is critical that your workers, managers and supervisors are constantly kept up to date and are briefed on policies, control measures and importantly the response plan to a potential outbreak.
How is an employer exposed to the virus?
Having no systems in place can not only expose employees and cause loss of production as mentioned previously but could also expose your business to litigation. For example, let’s say your company does not have any systems in place and your worker contracted the virus whilst undertaking a task for your company. By having no systems in place your business could be exposed to litigation.
That’s where having a system such as Online WHS can help not only assist an employer in providing a safe workplace but also protecting your business by providing a system that details and highlights:
- Risk assessments
- Inductions/ training
- As well as many other features to show compliance
MiSAFE’s Online WHS system helps make an employer’s duty to comply with Work Health and Safety obligations a little easier with over 40 registers interlinking to create one easy to use system.
(The most comprehensive but yet the easiest to use safety system in Australia)
With Online WHS in place you can clearly show that you are doing everything “reasonably practical” to help educate and protect your workers under your control.