Safety plan needed for businesses reopening under Level 3

As the country moves towards alert Level 3, WorkSafe New Zealand is reminding businesses they need a COVID-19 safety plan if they are permitted to operate.

Head of WorkSafe’s General Inspectorate Jo Pugh says it is important that businesses involve their workers in the development of the plan and then discuss and share the plan with everyone at work – including workers, contractors, and suppliers – before the work starts.

“The purpose of the plan is to ensure the health and safety of workers and others is not put at risk from changes that are made to work arrangements because of this pandemic. We know that for some workplaces, resumption of business in a way that minimises risk to workers is going to be hard to do and this template will support them through the process of considering risk, and controlling it.”

“It is also important that businesses continue to identify and control non-COVID-19 related risks that exist in their operations and consider whether the pandemic risks require any change to management of those pre-existing risks.

The key steps necessary to minimise the risk of passing on the COVID-19 virus at work are:

  • supporting people with flu-like symptoms to self-isolate
  • ensuring separation distances
  • disinfecting surfaces
  • maintaining good hygiene, particularly hand hygiene and good cough/sneeze etiquette
  • keeping records to facilitate contact tracing.

“The template is not compulsory to use but businesses need to have a plan to protect their workforce and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Jo says.

Businesses who have been operating as an essential service under alert Level 4 do not need a COVID-19 safety plan. However the systems they have in place must continue once the country transitions to Level 3.

“Our first approach with businesses will be to make sure they’re aware of the need for a plan and point them to the resources available on our and industry websites to assist them. We are making proactive calls to businesses to do just that. In the event of sustained non-compliance, we will consider our enforcement options.”

Worksafe also recommends seeking advice from industry organisations, who may have industry specific guidance and assistance available.