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COVID-19: Managing the risk of exposure

Published on April 28, 2020 by Angelica Manlangit

Employers are experiencing increased pressure to ensure a safe working environment for their employees. To support employers during these challenging times, WorkSafe Victoria has created a guideline with preventative measures that reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

 

Firstly, employers should establish a response plan and procedure for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 which should include:

  1. Consultation and communication arrangements with employees and contractors, including making sure contact details are up to date.
  2. Maintain workplace mapping information.
  3. Identify site locations for cleaning and disinfection.
  4. Implement an appropriate cleaning and disinfection regime
  5. The competent person should advise that the cleaning and disinfection regime has occurred for re-entry to the affected areas.
  6. Provide employees and contractors with relevant information prior to re-entering the site and resuming work.
  7. Review and revise systems to ensure risks are effectively controlled

 

It is crucial that sub and self-perform contractors conduct a thorough business review on activities that can increase risk as part of the response plan. These may include:

  • Travelling in hoists and lifts
  • Work that involves workers to be in close proximity to their work peers
  • Sharing tools and/or equipment
  • Sharing facilities such as bathrooms, communal break areas and kitchens

Screening

Employers should implement a screening process for all workers. Specifically through asking workers whether they have travelled, been in contact with any confirmed cases of COVID-19 or have any flu-like symptoms. Such as, breathing difficulties, cough, sore throat, fatigue or tiredness. WorkSafe Victoria recommends that these screening processes be undertaken via non-contact methods.

Workplace mapping

Record keeping of worker schedules and locations are key to workplace mapping. If a worker is confirmed to have COVID-19, everyone who may have been affected must be identified and notified. The record should include:

  • Date and time work was undertaken
  • Members of crews who worked together
  • Specific site area worked on during the job
  • Any breaks taken including time and location

Physical distancing

Physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres should be maintained. Evaluation of work tasks is necessary to determine whether there is an alternative that allows for physical distancing. In addition, employers should:

  • Mark safe distances at work
  • Consider different shift patterns
  • Stagger start times, breaks and finish times
  • Instal physical barriers between work areas
  • Provide PPE such as masks, glasses and gloves

Hygiene

Ensure all employees follow good hygiene practices, including:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth

Hygiene information must be displayed in prominent locations. Such as tea rooms, site offices, toilets, foyers, lifts and site entrances. Additionally, hand sanitiser must be available at site entrances and exits, in all hoists, amenities and other high traffic
areas of the site.

Employees should have access to appropriate onsite including:

  • Handwashing facilities
  • Access to sanitiser
  • Rubbish bins with touch-free lids
  • Appropriate waste management

Shared tools, plant, equipment and work areas

Sharing tools and equipment should be avoided whenever possible. If they must be shared, employers must:

  • Provide cleaning products and make them available as tools, plant and equipment move around site
  • Ensure all operators wash their hands thoroughly before and after use
  • Ensure all parts of tools, plant and equipment are wiped down before use
  • Regularly disinfect phones, desks, offices and computers. Shared use between these items should be avoided.

Work areas, transit areas, communal/break areas, shared facilities and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.

Personnel hoists

Hoists and lifts have a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to their size. Where physical distancing cannot be avoided control measures should be implemented. Specifically:

  • Limiting movement between levels and floors
  • Determine the limit of persons in hoists in one time
  • Mark where employees should stand with a sequence of entrance and exit inside the hoist as well as the waiting area
  • Use posters and digital displays to communicate and remind employees

Personal Protective Equipment

Employers must provide information, instruction and training on the safe use, decontamination, maintenance and disposal of any PPE provided. Signage should also be used to inform employees of the correct use of PPE. Including washing hands before and after wearing PPE.

The digital solution

Assignar is the operations platform built for sub and self-perform contractors. As a cloud-based, your office workers can work remotely to enable physical distancing. Whilst working remotely office staff can access all inductions, schedules, safety forms and timesheets without having to be physically collected from workers. This assists employers with workplace mapping if a confirmed case does arise onsite.

The fieldworker app enables contractors to abide by physical distancing rules whilst collecting all the necessary documentation as outlined in the guide. The fieldworker app allows workers to submit their timesheets and safety forms via their phone, with each submission date and time-stamped with geo-location.

With physical distancing implemented from not only the field but also the office, communication job details, new procedures and expectations are paramount in running your business smoothly during this time. Assignar’s fieldworker app allows all important information to be shared in real-time.

Learn how other sub and self-perform contractors are using Assignar to tackle COVID-19.

 

 

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