COVID-19 Return to the Workplace: Safe Work Principles
As restrictions ease across Australia, there are some essential WHS considerations for businesses to prepare for the re-opening of the workplace.
With the progressive easing of COVID-19 restrictions, it is essential for you to meet your obligations for workplace health and safety and provide an environment that allows a safe return to the workplace for your employees, customers and suppliers. This simply requires the workplace to be safe and without risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable.
As a result of the current pandemic, hazards and risks that normally exist in the workplace have changed and a large number of new risks have been introduced. It is critical that you follow the Safe Work Principles below.
Safe Work Principles
In order to assist businesses, the Australian Government has implemented a set of National COVID-19 Safe Work Principles to guide your business and ensure that your workplace is healthy and safe. In addition, Safe Work Australia has provided both general and industry specific information.
To create a safe environment and comply with these guidelines, we recommend that you create a plan and ensure procedures are in place, appropriate to your business size and industry.
Workplace Health and Safety Plan: 5 Easy Steps
You can create a plan for your business using a straightforward 5 step process to meet your legal obligations, while taking into account the practical aspects of ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.
To ensure a health and safety plan for your business, it is important to meet with key staff members to discuss the following:
- Identify the hazards due to COVID-19, either new or changed
- Assess the risks due to these hazards
- Implement controls as necessary
- Review and monitor the effectiveness of the controls
- Make changes as needed, ensuring legal compliance
We recommend that you document your plan. This will provide a reference point for action steps needed and a checklist for completion, which supports clear communication to all staff, contractors, suppliers and visitors in an efficient and economical way.
As restrictions continue to ease, your business will need to regularly review and update operational plans to ensure you meet the legal requirements and instil confidence in your employees and their workplace health and safety.
Health and Wellbeing
In addition to the practical safety implications of the COVID-19 restrictions, workplace health and wellbeing has never been more important.
Creating a positive environment for employees who may be dealing with (or have dealt with) the effects of isolation, social distancing and anxiety is essential. Similarly, the changes in lifestyle with a return to the workplace, will also have effects on an employee’s mental health, which must be addressed and assessed in a respectful manner.
A workplace that provides ‘good work’ through positive and healthy interaction with employees creates a healthy workforce, which in turn promotes a healthy business.
Whether your business is just a few people or involves many employees, Allan Hall can help develop programs appropriate to your business that supports:
- Improving workplace morale
- Reducing stress-related issues
- Improving employee physical and mental health
- Increasing staff resilience
Our team is committed to improving workplace health and safety and protecting your workforce and your business. We understand the difficulty and practicality of applying workplace health and safety legislation whether to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, to prepare you for the possibility of COVID-19 in the workplace and response measures to satisfy your legal and moral obligations, all with best practice.
If you would like assistance or advice to implement your COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Plan, please do not hesitate to contact our team by calling us on 1300 675 393 or email our team: [email protected].