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Yesterday’s announcement by the Victorian Premier of the Stage 4 restrictions for workplaces means it is timely for employers to review their COVID Plan. An employer should either have a Universal COVID Plan or, if they are in a High Risk Industry Sector, they must have a High Risk COVID Plan.
The High Risk Industry Sectors are warehousing, construction, distribution centres, meat-processing, cold storage and aged care (High-Risk Industry Sectors). It is likely WorkSafe will be increasing its compliance activities and workplace visits and asking employers to provide their COVID Plan, inspect the workplace control measures and also request other evidence that measures in the Plan have been implemented.
The Workplace COVID Plan must have been developed after a COVID risk assessment has been conducted. As set out on the WorkSafe website, such a risk assessment needs to have considered the expert advice on COVID-19 from sources such as the DHHS website, current infection control policies and practices, education, training and updates to employees on relevant information. Employers should also take into account where a work activity might involve other people such as customers, members of the public or suppliers, measures to prevent and address the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace and a response plan in the event of a COVID-19 positive test result.
The control measures which, as a minimum, should be in the COVID Plan include:
The employer needs to ensure it has records of the training it has conducted with employees, the information provided to employees and that the relevant manager in charge of each shift (including afternoon and night shift) knows the location of the COVID Plan and supporting documentation.
Since 28 July 2020 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, temporary regulations impose an obligation on employers to notify WorkSafe (Notifiable Incident) if there is a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in the workplace. Relevant managers must understand the obligations under the WorkSafe Notifiable Incidents requirement including how to complete the COVID-19 reporting form, the duty to preserve the area where the employee or worker worked during the preceding 5 days and then implement the necessary measures to manage the confirmed case or outbreak at the workplace.
For the High Risk Industry Sectors, there will be a High Risk COVID Plan which builds on the Universal COVID Plan set out above but will have specific measures directed to the particular industry. Again, industry material is available on the WorkSafe site.
The High Risk COVID Plan (applicable to the High Risk Industry sectors identified above) is likely to require the following additional measures:
We expect additional material may be added to the DHHS and WorkSafe websites in the coming days and we will keep you updated as this occurs. In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact us.
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