How to lead your organisation to ensure a COVID-19 Safe Workplace

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How to lead your organisation to ensure a COVID-19 Safe Workplace

This set of How To’s is a practical step-by-step guide to support you and your organisation to understand and implement the new COVID-19 Safe Workplace framework that has been released as part of the Tasmanian Government’s “Rebuild a Stronger Tasmania” plan.

Remember these new requirements are in addition to (and do not replace) your existing duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.

We have laid out simple guidelines on what the new framework is, how to assess and comply with the new standards, and how to document your compliance.

These How To’s have been written for micro, small and medium community service organisations that operate in Tasmania.

TasCOSS ran a Workshop on Managing Workplace Culture and Change as relating to this How To. The recording is linked and can be found on the TasCOSS YouTube channel. The other How To in this series also has a workshop video recording linked. We hope you find this helpful.

When do the minimum standards come into effect?

All workplaces will be required to show that they comply with the minimum COVID-19 safety standards.

  • Workplaces that are reopening: you will be expected to have a safety plan in place.
  • Workplaces that have continued to operate: you should prepare a safety plan by 15 June 2020. 

The requirement to comply with the minimum standards will be established as a new regulation in the Work Health and Safety Regulations.

How long will they be in place?

The Minimum Standards have been developed in consultation with WorkSafe Tasmania and Public Health and will be in place for 6 months, but may be extended if necessary.

Deciding when and how you re-open

Remember it is up to you and your organisation to assess and determine when you are ready to re-open.

Why is it important? What if we don’t comply?

Workplaces or industries that do not demonstrate compliance with the new regulations may be subject to enforcement actions, however there are lots of resources and supports available to help you comply, including free advisory visits provided by WorkSafe Tasmania for small to medium businesses.

Communication and Consultation

It’s easier to achieve a safer workplace when everyone talks and work together to address potential problems and collectively find solutions.

Consultation is actually a legal requirement and an essential part of managing work health and safety risks. Hearing and understanding the views of others leads to greater co-operation and trust.

It is really important to understand your workplace culture, both from a WHS and COVID-19 response perspective, but also from a change and transition perspective. Transitioning your workforce to new ways of operating can be one of the most challenging part of the process.

Consultation means both providing your workers with information and taking into account their views before making decisions affecting work health and safety. It allows you to really get to know your workplace, workers and the hazards they face.

Don’t underestimate your workers’ input: they often have first-hand knowledge, experience and ideas about how to reduce safety risks, make improvements and find solutions.

Consider consulting with staff by surveys, groups or inviting individual feedback about

  • what about the last two months has been good,
  • what has been not so good
  • what they would like to leave behind,
  • what they would like to continue.

When introducing any changes, make sure everyone knows what’s being done and how you are controlling the hazards. Involving your workers in these ways reinforces the idea that safety is everyone’s responsibility, and ensures you meet your requirements to consult with your workforce.

For more information about consulting with your workforce see:

Consulting about safety - WorkSafe Tasmania

    Keeping up to date with current info

    Keeping up to date with the latest advice is really important when working through this framework with your team to ensure your organisation can respond accordingly.

    COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework (overview)

    The COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework supports workplaces in Tasmania to continue to operate, or reopen, while protecting Tasmania's health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The overall framework has three parts to it:

    • Minimum standards – these are a general list of requirements to manage the ongoing risk of COVID-19 in workplaces.
    • COVID-19 Safe Workplace Guidelines – these provide more detail on how specific sectors and workplaces can meet the minimum standards. There are a range of these for different workplaces
    • COVID-19 Safety Plan – this is what organisations use to show how they are complying with the minimum standards.

    PCBU

    Under the work health and safety laws, overall responsibilities for WH&S apply to a 'person conducting a business or undertaking' (PCBU) which includes employers and also a range of others who engage workers.

    Generally this applies to any senior management who have responsibility for significant or all components of an organisation, is usually the CEO, GM or Manager but can also apply to COOs and deputy CEOs for example.

    The primary duty of a PCBU is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of workers and others, such as clients, visitors and customers, is to not be put at risk by the work carried out by the business or undertaking. 

    Here is a link to more information about the duties of a PCBU:

    These COVID Safety How To’s will refer to an “employer” as a simplified term for PCBU.

    Next

    The next How To will take you through each of the COVID-19 minimum standards, and how to assess where your organisaiton is at:

    How to complete your COVID-19 Safety Plan

      Where to get further help

      Tasmanian Government

      Worksafe Tasmania

      TCCI

      • Have an enquiry about WHS in your workplace? Contact the friendly TCCI WHS team via safety@tcci.com.au or call our WHS Specialist, Janelle Whitehouse, on 0417 305 809.