In late April 2020, the Australian Government released a set of national principles designed to guide businesses as they begin to transition back to normal operations through and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. As workplaces look to move through and beyond COVID-19, these principles – developed and endorsed by Safe Work Australia – will provide a blueprint for businesses.
The 10 overarching principles are designed to be the cornerstones for workplace decisions, practices and procedures as businesses look to embrace and implement a new normal. Workplaces guided by these principles should create a work environment that is safe for employees while having the capacity to respond swiftly and effectively should advice change or a case of COVID-19 arise in the workplace.
The National COVID-19 safe workplace principles can be viewed at safeworkaustralia.gov.au, and for ease are reproduced in full at the end of this article.
The principles reaffirm the rights of workers to have a healthy and safe working environment and the importance of analysing the individual workplace and identifying risks and control measures to address the unique set of risks posed by the novel coronavirus to that particular work environment.
As organisations look to return staff to their workplaces – following either a period of working from home, or absence/leave by some or many workers – it is expected that physical and procedural aspects of work will need to be adapted in order to allow for social distancing and the practice of consistently exemplary hygiene measures.
Further, businesses will need to be ready to react and respond appropriately, effectively and efficiently and in accordance with advice from health authorities, should official advice change or should a case of COVID-19 arise in the workplace. In part, this will require businesses to understand what constitutes best practice in prevention, mitigation and response to the risks presented by COVID-19 and adjust as the crisis response guidelines continue to evolve.
The team at Injurynet, a subsidiary of MAX has been providing organisations with support throughout COVID-19 and will continue to provide customised support to businesses as the nation switches gears and begins the transition to beyond COVID-19.
They have now prepared a suite of “Plan for Recovery” services that will enable businesses to support employees back to work quickly and professionally, underpinned by the national COVID-19 safe work principles.
The Injurynet team will arrange a virtual meeting in which employers can discuss their business and talk through their individual needs. The Injurynet team will then work with businesses to develop a plan for recovery. Every industry has unique regulatory requirements in order to ensure compliance and the Injurynet team combines over 20 years experience and medical expertise from across their expansive network to provide businesses with high quality, evidence based and customised solutions.
While each plan is unique, a COVID-19 plan for recovery may include services such as:
- Medical advisory services by our in-house doctors to prepare, manage and protect the workplace
- High risk medical condition assessments to determine an employee’s risks and supports they need at work
- Medical case management services to manage complex cases including those with a COVID-19 exposure
- Return to work assessments to determine an employee’s fitness to return to work after a possible COVID-19 exposure or respiratory tract symptoms
- Nurse triage services to provide employees with COVID-19 related symptoms with advice and recommendations including self-management, self-isolation and testing
- Early intervention clinical services, such as medical and psychology services for employees that are struggling to cope with the new normal.
Injurynet is supported by its network of providers with over 6,500 doctors, psychologists and physiotherapists across 2,900 locations. If you would like additional support for your business and workplace as you look transition safely through and beyond COVID-19, contact the Injurynet team on 1300 574 040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we all look to recovery beyond COVID-19 and businesses look to adapt and adopt the nationals COVID-19 safe workplace principles, consider giving your workplace a strategic advantage with the support of Injurynet.
National COVID-19 safe workplace principles, from Safe Work Australia.
As at 25 April, 2020
Recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency, that all actions in respect of COVID-19 should be founded in expert health advice and that the following principles operate subject to the measures agreed and implemented by Governments through the National Cabinet process.
- All workers, regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged, have the right to a healthy and safe working environment.
- The COVID-19 pandemic requires a uniquely focused approach to work health and safety (WHS) as it applies to businesses, workers and others in the workplace.
- To keep our workplaces healthy and safe, businesses must, in consultation with workers, and their representatives, assess the way they work to identify, understand and quantify risks and to implement and review control measures to address those risks.
- As COVID-19 restrictions are gradually relaxed, businesses, workers and other duty holders must work together to adapt and promote safe work practices, consistent with advice from health authorities, to ensure their workplaces are ready for the social distancing and exemplary hygiene measures that will be an important part of the transition.
- Businesses and workers must actively control against the transmission of COVID-19 while at work, consistent with the latest advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, including considering the application of a hierarchy of appropriate controls where relevant.
- Businesses and workers must prepare for the possibility that there will be cases of COVID-19 in the workplace and be ready to respond immediately, appropriately, effectively and efficiently, and consistent with advice from health authorities.
- Existing state and territory jurisdiction of WHS compliance and enforcement remains critical. While acknowledging individual variations across WHS laws mean approaches in different parts of the country may vary, to ensure business and worker confidence, a commitment to a consistent national approach is key, including a commitment to communicating what constitutes best practice in prevention, mitigation and response to the risks presented by COVID-19.
- Safe Work Australia (SWA), through its tripartite membership, will provide a central hub of WHS guidance and tools that Australian workplaces can use to successfully form the basis of their management of health and safety risks posed by COVID-19.
- States and territories ultimately have the role of providing advice, education, compliance and enforcement of WHS and will leverage the use of the SWA central hub in fulfilling their statutory functions.
- The work of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission will complement the work of SWA, jurisdictions and health authorities to support industries more broadly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic appropriately, effectively and safely.