The Safe Workplace Principles simply state, “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.”
It goes on to say, “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.”
In other words, even though we’re all dealing with a highly contagious and dangerous pandemic, business owners need to take additional actions to prevent and contain COVID-19 in their workplace. So what does that look like for your business?
Here are 6 things to consider:
Should Staff Continue Working From Home?
Even though the state and federal government are encouraging people to return to work, it may be safer, easier and more cost-effective for your business if your team continues to work from home.
If this is the case, you need to ensure all staff are safely set up at home. Even if you checked their workspace at the start of the shutdowns, their set-up could have changed, so it will need regular reviews.
You will also need to consider how you are going to keep up team morale and workplace culture while everyone is working remotely. Thinking ahead a bit, how will you induct and include new staff into your business to ensure they feel part of the team? These issues are important to maintain highly productive teams and it’s something End2End can help you with.
The Potential Ordeal Of The Workplace Commute
The workplace commute is more complicated than ever with the capacity of public transport shrunk to accommodate safe-distancing requirements. Things you’ll need to consider include the possibility of offering more flexible start and finish times for staff – assuming they can get on a bus or train. End2End can help you develop workable strategies when it comes to the work commute.
The Special Challenges For Office Staff
Office staff face special challenges if you work in a multi-story building. You’ll need to consider how they are going to travel in the lifts – especially if you share the building with other organisations. What protocols will you (or should you) ask your staff to follow when pressing lift buttons and travelling in the lift? We are here to offer guidance on how you can help your staff stay safe.
Hygiene Requirements Are Extensive And Will Be Tackled Separately
For more information about hygiene requirements and how to manage this see our special post right here.
Physical Distancing Requirements
Not only do you need to ensure the 1.5m physical distancing rule is being followed by all staff, clients and suppliers, there is also the 4 square metre rule. This rule limits the number of people who can physically be allowed to enter your workplace at any one time. There are several tools to help you calculate this. Here’s a link to one of them.
Following the 4 square metre rule may mean you need to split your team so only a few are physically present at your workplace at any one time.
You will also need to introduce strict rules about touching other team members’ keyboards, phones, physical documents, communal printers, kitchen facilities (such as coffee makers, cutlery, milk cartons and refrigerator handles) as well as lunchroom protocols.
There’s a lot to consider but the team at End2End Business Solutions are here to advise you on the rules, signage and training you will need to provide your staff to ensure you are compliant and protect staff health and safety.
Managing Nervous Staff
When speaking with business owners and their staff, Annette Dixon, Director of End2End Business Solutions advises everyone to “Treasure what happened in the past but recognise we now have a new normal AND a new future to design for ourselves. We may not be able to control what’s happened so far. But we can control what we do next.”
It’s likely some of your staff will be anxious about returning to work and the potential risks to their health. You will need to be patient with them. Assess the risks in your workplace and find strategies to minimise those risks. Then clearly communicate with all staff (but in particular your nervous staff) the measures you have put in place to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Of course, you may have some team members who fall into a high-risk category so it may be wiser for them to remain working from home indefinitely.
We can help you support staff who are in a high risk group or are hesitant about returning to work.
Where To Start?
Both federal and state governments have a lot of online resources for businesses – including industry-specific advice on what you need to know. But we suggest you begin with the Safe Work Australia Checklist and the My Business COVIDSafe Plan from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Of course, with so much on your plate at the moment, you might prefer to ask us to provide you with specific advice and guidance on what you need to do. So if you would like support to navigate all the complexities of operating a business in the COVID-19 era, get in touch with the End2End team by calling (02) 8977 4002.