With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in New South Wales and Victoria and the resulting lockdowns, many organisations are reviewing their infectious disease management plans to ensure their worksites remain operational. Employers have an obligation to manage the health and safety risks posed by COVID-19 as far as reasonably practicable. Below we’ve identified some key considerations for managing a positive COVID-19 result in your workplace.
Communicating with your team
If an employee receives a positive result for COVID-19 or has identified possible exposure, encourage them to remain at home and in isolation. Be upfront with your team that a co-worker has tested positive (or has potentially been exposed) and reassure your team that appropriate actions are being taken to manage the health and safety risks presented. It’s important to provide timely, clear advice to your team and promptly manage the risks even if the test results have not been confirmed.
Assess the risk
There is no automatic requirement to close an entire workforce or site following a positive result (or suspected infection). However, it is important to follow the advice of your local health authorities and consider the size of the workplace, nature of work, number of people and suspected areas of contamination in your workplace in determining the most appropriate course of action.
Sanitisation and disinfection helps reduce the risk of contamination from infectious diseases. To safely sanitise and disinfect a location with known or suspected COVID-19 exposure, GCG recommends utilising an independent cleaning provider that follows decontamination methods outlined by State and Federal Government bodies, including the Department of Health. The Department of Health recommends that all hard surfaces, furniture, equipment and frequently touched surfaces (including door handles, elevator buttons, light switches) be thoroughly cleaned using detergent and bleach. Any fabric or upholstered furniture should be steam cleaned.
Following decontamination and disinfection, source a qualified professional to conduct a thorough clearance inspection and sanitisation assessment to determine the effectiveness of the hygiene intervention. GCG’s occupational hygienists specialise in providing this service, and utilise scientific testing equipment and a range of qualitative assessment methods to review a site.
Depending on the results of the inspection and assessment, you should receive a report that confirms the validity of the sanitisation process, or alternatively makes recommendations for additional decontamination/sanitisation actions. Only once the effectiveness of the sanitisation process has been confirmed should the workplace recommence operations.
Following an incident, it is important to review your existing infectious disease risk management controls, assess their effectiveness and determine whether any additional control measures require implementation.
Why choose GCG?
GCG recognises the emphasis to run business operations smoothly to ensure companies benefit from continued operations and profit gain. A lack of both safety and hygiene planning at the workplace can ensue challenges around the workflow and possibly allow long-term health effects at your company. This is why GCG consultants take pride in producing quality yet effective work to ensure clients hold a clear advantage – to commence operations as per usual and to keep the issue contained and/or eliminated. The main part of the job is to figure out the clients’ requirements based on size, scope, location, and budget to fully understand what is expected.
GCG’s hygiene consultants are professionals in the industry who are certified with the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH).