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Managing workplace safety and employees mental health

March 15, 2020

Even though mandatory self-isolation is now in place, exposure to COVID–19 may present a health and safety risk to workers and other persons at a workplace.

You, your employees, contractors, suppliers, visitors and other stakeholders have a duty to take reasonable care for their own and others health and safety. This includes ensuring good hygiene practices.

Employers can take various measures to control the health risks to their workforces, including:

  • providing adequate facilities to enable good hygiene practices (e.g. soap, hand sanitiser, signage and reminders)
  • limiting or banning non-essential work travel
  • developing infection control policies and procedures
  • directing employees to comply with the latest quarantine measures.

The Australian Department of Health has published an information sheet for employers.

How COVID-19 spreads

COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu.

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects - such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

If they are standing within one metre of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them.

How to prevent the spread of COVID-19

 To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and recognise to your staff that your business is working to manage the impacts of the disease on your business and to protect their health and well-being it is recommended that you provide updates to employees addressing:

  • the current status of the virus in Australia (to dispel any myths)
  • potential impacts on the workplace and changes to policies
  • advice on good hygiene practices for work.

Good hygiene includes:

  • covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissues
  • disposing of tissues properly
  • washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • if you are sick, avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people.


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