As an employer in Australia, you have a duty to ensure the health and safety of your workers and eliminate exposure to COVID-19 where reasonably practicable.

By now, most businesses will have already employed some measure of COVID-19 safety protocols.

  • Working from home arrangements
  • Social Distancing
  • Updated Hygiene Practices (e.g., through workplace policies and ensuring access to adequate and well-stocked hygiene facilities)
  • Encouraging workers to stay home if unwell
  • Increased cleaning of the workplace

However, as more people return to the office, they are looking to their employers to guarantee that they are taking every precaution to ensure their health and safety.

With COVID still being a relatively new concern for businesses, you may not yet be aware of all the possible ways workers can be exposed to COVID-19.

A risk assessment should be performed whenever a change affects a business’ work activities and should be continually reviewed as an ongoing process.

It is imperative to consult all workers and involve them in the process.  They will also identify hazards and choose effective control measures based on their lived experience in the role.  A business should also perform risk assessments for COVID-19 when:

  • recommencing work after a shutdown
  • responding to concerns
  • workplace incidents or changes to the workplace occur

Active Tip: Determine who is responsible for QR code management and temperature checking; it could be HR or building management.

What is reasonably practicable?

Reasonably practicable should be painted over with a brush of objective common sense.  The greater the harm and likelihood of the risk occurring, the greater the investment of time and money.  You should not engage in that activity if you cannot afford to implement a control measure based on the completed risk assessment.  When there are several options for eliminating a risk, the best choice should be decided by consultation with all parties, especially with a WHS specialist.  Costly control measures may not be necessary, and cheaper alternatives may be found through the experience of the WHS specialist.

Active OHS can perform risk assessments for COVID-19, the transmission of COVID-19 risk assessments, risk assessments of contractors (e.g. confirming all consultants are triple vaccinated) and any other COVID-19 related risk assessment.

Active Tip:  Other risk assessments may need to be melded and updated for COVID-19 (Example: confined spaces and ventilation procedures may need to be reviewed and updated due to COVID-19 risks).