COVID 19 Level 3 Important Announcement.
On Monday 20th April 2020 the Government announced that the country will move from COVID-19 Level 4 (Lockdown) to Level 3 (Restrict) at 11.59pm on Monday 27th April 2020.
This means that those businesses already operating under the Essential Services provisions will continue to operate but under Level 3, non-essential companies may be able to open provided they can do without exposing their workers or the community to increased risk. Some companies will not be able to open as they would not be able to meet the strict safety requirements outlined below.
The Government has made it very clear that operating under a Level 3 environment is NOT business usual.
All businesses must take the lead to ensure that if s operating under Level 3 they are taking health measures to keep their workers and others safe. WorkSafe will have a role in ensuring this is happening.
WorkSafe have issued high level information that outlines key areas of concern for all businesses. This document highlights the following.
- Are there any risks arising from restarting your business or a business activity that has been shut down during alert level 4?
- How will you ensure all your workers know how to keep themselves safe from exposure to COVID-19?
- How will you gather information on the wellness of your staff to ensure that they are safe to work?
- How will you operate your business in a way that keeps workers and others safe from exposure to COVID-19?
- How will you manage an exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19?
- How will you evaluate whether your work processes or risk controls are effective?
- How do these changes impact on the risks of the work that you do?
- Under this advice many sector groups have developed more detailed plans to assist their businesses meet this criteria. They are in the main Guidelines from which businesses will need to develop their own plans to fit their workplace.
Above all the WorkSafe advice and sector guidelines all have the same goal.
- To stop the introduction of COVID 19 from entering the workplace from people entering that place.
- To have safe systems of work that stop person to person transmission in all workplace activities
- To have systems in place to be able to contact trace if the COVID 19 virus has been found to have entered the workplace
These goals are based on the following knowledge:
- The virus signs and symptoms usually show in around 5 days but can be between 1-14 days.
- The virus is transmitted by airborne droplets from coughing, sneezing and breathing
- People who have been infected may have no symptoms and therefore can transmit the virus unknowingly
- A 2 metre physical gap between people is recommended to reduce the risk of airborne transmission
- Hand washing and good personal hygiene will limit the transfer of the virus from surfaces to the airway via the hands.
Businesses must work with their staff to manage physical routes of entry into their workplace, how work is undertaken within the workplace and the supply chain attached to your workplace.
Prevention is the only option. There is a real risk of having to return to Level 4 restrictions if workplace clusters become evident. The onus is on all workplaces to prepare, plan and implement a safe return to work for workers, contractors, public and visitors.
Businesses are reminded that all H&S plans must be reviewed to ensure they are being implemented and remain effective.
EMA has produced a series of free guides and templates to help you move safely from Level 4 to Level 3.