The advice from the Victorian Government is changing frequently so please refer to our last article titled ‘Victoria’s Stage 4 Restrictions’ for links to reliable resources to find current information and stay informed.
The information and links contained in this article are correct at the time of writing (20 August 2020).
The introduction of Stage 4 Restrictions has meant that some businesses are required to close for 6 weeks, whilst others can remain open but in a ‘scaled back’ capacity, and other permitted industries can open but must have a COVIDSafe Plan. There is an additional requirement for certain industries to have a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan.
What are COVIDSafe Plans?
As outlined in our previous article on Stage 4 Restrictions, [please insert link to the article] permitted work premises are the businesses located in metropolitan Melbourne which can continue to open and operate during the Stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne, provided that they have a completed COVIDSafe Plan. At the time of writing (20 August), COVIDSafe Plans in regional Victoria are a recommendation only (except for certain meat industry employers).
It is important to note that businesses with less than 5 workers do not require a COVIDSafe Plan but it is strongly recommended as the plan will assist employers in dealing with an infection, if it arises.
COVIDSafe Plans must outline the following:
- The actions the business will take to help prevent the introduction of COVID-19 in the workplace;
- The level of face-covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for the workforce;
- How the business will prepare for and respond to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace;
- How the business will meet the requirements set by the Victorian Government, including the higher-risk industries or workplaces which have additional requirements i.e. High Risk COVIDSafe Plans.
What are High Risk COVIDSafe Plans and what do they require?
In metropolitan Melbourne, high risk industries are the construction, warehousing and distribution, supermarket distribution or medical supplies and pharmaceutical sectors
A business which is an abattoir or meat processing facility, including seafood and poultry, is considered high risk regardless of whether they are in metropolitan Melbourne or regional Victoria.
Businesses which operate in these industries require a specific COVIDSafe Plan.
For example, a business in the construction industry must complete a COVIDSafe Plan as well as the High Risk COVIDSafe Plan Attachment - Construction.
High Risk COVIDSafe Plans have additional obligations for employers, and the requirements vary depending on the sector. Generally, these additional requirements include (but are not limited to):
- A requirement to ensure that the number of workers on site are kept to a minimum – the construction sector for example, limits the number of workers on ‘small scale construction sites’ to no more than 5;
- Keeping and maintaining detailed records – A High Risk COVIDSafe Plan, logs created during the time the Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions (No 4) are in place, a Work Premises roster, time and attendance records, payroll data and records of all workers and visitors who attend the site;
- A signed declaration from workers at the start of each shift that they are free of COVID-19 symptoms, they have not been in contact with a confirmed case and have not been directed to self-isolate or self-quarantine;
- Putting in place a Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) training plan;
- Keeping a cleaning log displayed that outlines the dates, times and the frequency of high touched areas/surfaces are cleaned;
- Increased and regular cleaning in areas where staff work.
The poultry, seafood processing and abattoirs and meat processing sectors have the following additional obligations:
- Restrictions on staff carpooling to work;
- Workers must have their temperatures tested each day – if a worker’s temperature is above 37.5 degrees they will be directed to leave immediately, get tested and self-isolate until a negative result is received;
- Wearing a surgical mask and a face shield.
Where can I find COVID Safe Plans?
COVID Safe Plans, including guidance for particular sectors are available on the Business Victoria website: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/covid-safe-business/creating-a-covid-safe-workplace
High Risk COVID Safe Plans for the construction, warehousing and distribution, medical supplies, abattoirs and meat processing sectors can be found at this link: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/covid-safe-business/high-risk-covid-safe-plan
Further advice or assistance
For further advice or assistance on this topic, or any workplace relations matter, Employment Plus clients have free access to the Ai Group Workplace Advice Line.
Call 1300 862 217 8.30am – 5.15pm AEST Mon-Fri