Alseasons’ WHS Risk Management Guide | COVID-19

Purpose

The purpose of this guide is to ensure Alseasons Hospitality Staff, Alseasons’ Workers and Alseasons’ clients have a proactive approach to identify and develop strategies to manage the risks associated with the evolving nature of Coronavirus Disease COVID-19. 

Scope

The scope of this guide includes both internal and external situations. Examples of internal situations include but are not limited to: meetings, office workspaces, and personal hygiene. Examples of external situations include but are not limited to: Alseasons’ staff working at Host Client job sites, travel and public events.

Under work health and safety legislation all employers and workers have legal obligations to be proactive about their own and their co-workers’ health and safety. Both the labour hire employer and host organisation are responsible for making sure a specific risk assessment of potential hazards is undertaken and appropriate safety measures are put into place.

The individual worker still has an obligation to look after their own and others health and safety in the workplace.

 

Introduction to COVID-19 

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects - such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to the flu.  

It has been reported by the World Health Organisation that most persons infected by COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover.  Some do go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care.

Higher risk groups

The risk of serious illnesses increases for:

  • people over 40

  • people with weakened immune systems 

  • people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease

Alseasons and Alseasons’ Clients Internal Processes

Due Diligence

Alseasons Hospitality Staff and Alseasons’ Host Clients’ senior management are required to be proactive in ensuring that our organisations comply with their health and safety obligations.  In demonstrating due diligence, senior management teams will take reasonable steps to:

  1. Acquire knowledge of COVID-19 and associated risks to health and safety in the workplace:

  1. Understand operations that may place workers and others at risk from COVID-19

  • consultation with workers to identify core activities that potentially expose workers and others to risks from COVID-19

  • consultation with other duty holders we share a duty with to identify core activities that potentially expose workers and others to risks from COVID-19

  1. Ensure appropriate resources and processes are used to eliminate or minimise the risks to health and safety

  • establish or review and maintain safe methods of work

  • engage personnel with appropriate skills

  • contingency planning to manage staff absences

  • give safety personnel (where applicable) access to decision makers for urgent issues relating to COVID-19

  1. Implement processes for receiving and responding to information about COVID-19 incidents, hazards and risks

  • ensure efficient, timely reporting systems

  • there is a response process for workers who become unwell or think they may have symptoms of COVID-19

  • If a worker is confirmed to have COVID-19, there is a process to inform co-workers about possible exposure whilst maintaining confidentiality

  1. Establish and maintain compliance procedures by testing policies, procedures and practices to verify compliance with our organisations COVID-19 WHS Risk Management Plan

  • test policies, procedures and practices relating to managing the risk from COVID-19 to verify compliance with COVID-19 risk management planning

Consultation

Consultation is a legal requirement under health and safety law and is an essential part of managing health and safety risks.  Alseasons Hospitality Staff] will consult with workers on COVID-19, as it has the potential to affect their health  and safety while at work.  

Consultation is required when identifying hazards, assessing risks and deciding on measures to control those risks.  In deciding on the risks associated with COVID-19 in the workplace and how to control the risks, Alseasons Hospitality Staff]will consult our workers who will or may be affected by this decision. Consultation can occur via our team meetings, one-to-one meetings, email, intranet, or other communication methods. 

Consultation is a two-way process between the Alseasons Hospitality Staff and the workers and should involve:

  • talking to each other about health and safety matters

  • listening to workers concerns and raise your concerns

  • seeking and share views and information, and 

  • considering what workers say before the business makes decisions

Alseasons Hospitality Staff, in accordance with health and legislation, requires that consultation involves:

  • relevant COVID-19 and risks to health and safety information is shared with workers

  • workers are given a reasonable opportunity to express their views and to raise health or safety issues

  • workers are given a reasonable opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process relating to COVID-19 

  • the views of workers are taken into account, 

  • workers are advised of the outcome of any consultation in a timely manner.

 

 

Consult, Co-operate, Co-ordinate

Where we share responsibility for health and safety with another person (e.g. Host Organisation), the requirement to consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities with them will help address any gaps in managing health and safety risks associated with COVID-19.

We will identify other persons we share a duty with and ensure we consult, co-ordinate and co-operate with them on the matter of COVID-19. The outcome of consultation, co-operation and co-ordination of activities with other duty holders is:

  • an understanding of how the activities may impact on health and safety; and

  • that the actions we each take to control risks are complementary

Ensure a safe workplace

We have a duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the provision and maintenance of a working environment that is safe and without risks to health, including the safe access to and exit from the workplace.  We will ensure that we have measures in place to fulfill this duty by:

  • ensuring the workplace is clean and hygienic

    • surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly because contamination on surfaces touched by employees and customers is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads

  • promote regular and thorough hand-washing by workers, customers and visitors, as washing kills the virus on the hands and prevents the spread of COVID19 

    • placing sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Ensure these dispensers are regularly refilled

    • display posters promoting hand-washing – we will use only official Government authority posters or posters prepared by the World Health Organisation 

    • combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from WHS/HR staff, briefings at meetings and information on the intranet to promote hand-washing

    • make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water

  • promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace as good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19

    • display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from WHS/HR staff, briefing at meetings and information on the intranet etc

    • ensure that face masks (ordinary surgical face masks rather than N95 face masks) and / or paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them

Provision of adequate facilities

We have a duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable the provision of adequate facilities for the welfare of workers at work.  We will ensure that we have measures in place to fulfil this duty by:

  • providing access to washbasins, soap and water, and paper towelling

  • providing access to ‘closed lid bins’ for hygienically disposing of soiled items

  • maintain a supply of surgical masks to offer anyone who develops respiratory symptoms while at work

  • maintain a supply of cleaning products

  • identifying a room or area where someone who is feeling unwell or has symptoms can be safely isolated

  • have a plan for how an unwell person can be safely transferred from the workplace to a health facility and agree the plan in advance with our partner healthcare provider

  • ensure that your hand washing facilities are cleaned on a regular basis, properly stocked and in good working order

  • encourage workers to routinely clean and disinfect surfaces with which they (or others) have come in contact. This is relevant to workplaces that have ‘hot-desks’ or operate under Activity Based Working (ABW) systems. Implement methods of routine cleaning and disinfection following the recommended standards and guidelines for COVID-19

  • ensure first aiders maintain current training and have been provided information on COVID-19

Review workplace policies and procedures

We will ensure our workplace policies and procedures are reviewed to ensure they adequately address the risks associated with COVID-19 in the workplace.  This will include but not limited to the following processes:

  • Infection control

  • Travel

  • Events and meetings

  • Fitness for work

  • Consultation

  • Working from home

  • Code of conduct

  • Bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence

  • Mental health 

  • Induction and training

  • On-hire risk management

  • Incident management

  • Emergency and contingency plan

Provision of Information, instruction, and training

It is a legal requirement under health and safety law to provide workers with any information, instruction, and training necessary to ensure their health and safety at work.  Information, instruction and training will ensure our workers know about issues that will affect their health and safety, such as COVID-19.

We will ensure provision of information, instruction and training, specifically we:

  • will ensure workers are aware of the isolation/quarantine periods in accordance with advice from the Australian Government Department of Health.  This includes when staff should not attend work

  • provide clear advice to workers about actions they should take if they become unwell or think they may have the symptoms of coronavirus, in accordance with advice from the Australian Government Department of Health and state or territory health department.

  • provide regular updates to workers about the situation and any changes to organisational policies or procedures 

  • provide workers with information and links to relevant services should they require support

  • promote regular and thorough hand-washing by workers and customers

  • promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace

  • brief workers and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in the community anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home. They should also stay home (or work from home) if they have had to take simple medications, such as paracetamol/acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, which may mask symptoms of infection

  • review induction and onboarding information to incorporate policies, procedures and practices relating to managing the risks from COVID-19

 

 

Emergency Plan

Our organisations must ensure that an emergency plan is prepared for the workplace, including for workers who may work at multiple workplaces. We will review our emergency response plan to ensure COVID-19 is included as a type of emergency.  The following information will be included in the emergency plan - COVID-19:

  • lists of nearest medical centres and hospitals along with travel routes and ways to transport personnel.

  • contingency plan to manage staff absences

  • list of major hospitals that have ‘Screening Clinics’ where personnel who have symptoms compatible with COVID-19 may present (call prior to presenting at the hospital)

  • update staff contact list including next of kin details

  • identify a room (e.g. first aid room or similar) where we can isolate an infected worker if needed until we are able to transport them to a medical facility

  • workplace closure contingency plan

  • working from home drill

External Processes

Events & Meetings

There is a risk that people attending an event or meeting might be unwittingly bringing the COVID-19 virus to that event or meeting.

Meetings

For meetings scheduled at our premises, it is the responsibility of the person organising the meeting with someone outside our organisation to make contact with the person prior to the meeting to determine whether the person is unwell and/or if they meet the isolation guidance Australian Government Department of Health coronavirus disease COVID-19 Isolation guidance

If the person attending the meeting indicates they either feel unwell and/or they meet the isolation guidance, then the person organising the meeting must instruct the attendee that they will not be permitted to attend the meeting and the meeting will need to occur via telephone or video conference.

 

 

Resources

Find the latest information:

Work Health & Safety Regulators

Safe Work Australia provides further information and resources from WHS regulators.  This information can be accessed via links on the Safe Work Australia Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for PCBUs webpage.

World Health Organisation

Official Government Websites 

 

Health Advice & Support

  • Coronavirus Health Information Line - you can call this line if you are seeking information on novel coronavirus.  The line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone: 1800 020 080

  • Healthdirect hotline - you can call this number to speak to a registered nurse about your health concerns.  The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone 1800 022 222.  Website: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au

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