Last week the National Cabinet agreed on nine key points that have become the ‘National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles’. With COVID-19 well and truly here in Australia and most businesses adjusted to this new way of working, these principles were designed to prepare workplaces to resume normal operations in the coming months.
The Principles are as follows:
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 (AHPPC), 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.10. 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.
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.
As these safe workplace principles apply to all businesses and workers, it has never been a more perfect time to dedicate some quality time to consider revamping your systems to adhere to these policies. By focusing on improving your systems and how your workplace can best meet each of these principles can lead to improved safety for your workers. Additionally, improving your business’ compliance also reaps many benefits including boosting your competitiveness in your marketplace. While staying compliant is not only required by law, it allows your business to maintain a professional image which can support increased sales and puts your business in the best position to grow and achieve organisational goals.
Putting compliance on the back foot may lead to disruption to your operations from unethical practices, fraud and in a worst-case scenario business closure. For many of our clients, Skytrust has served as the backbone of their operations and has allowed them to stay compliant, gain accreditation while creating a safer and productive workplace. More recently, it has allowed them to have control over their workplace in these unsettling times to ensure the safety of their workers and are able to adjust timely to the necessary changes as required. Taking the time now to set up your systems properly, will reap benefits for your business going forward.