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Responding to a positive case of COVID-19 in your business

All businesses should be prepared to respond to a positive COVID-19 case linked to your business or employees.

A business may be impacted by a positive COVID-19 by:

an employee, contractor or other visitor to a site contracting COVID-19 and notifying you of their diagnosis; or

  • public health authorities notifying your business of the link to a positive COVID-19 case.
  • This information sheet can assist members develop an action plan to respond to a positive COVID-19 case.

1. Follow the HIA Making Space on Site Guidelines

HIA’s Making Space on Site Guidelines (the Guidelines) provides information and advice to ensure you are managing your sites and the risks from COVID-19.

The Guidelines asks that members:

  • develop an action plan for how the site will be managed should a person enter the site with the COVID-19; or
  • advise the site supervisor that they have been in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive.

2. Follow Government rules and restrictions

HIA recommends that you always meet the Government’s rules and restrictions, for example by:

  • keeping any person displaying cold, flu or similar symptoms away from sites until the symptoms have passed or a negative test is provided to the site supervisor,
  • where required, enforcing any self-isolation policy for anyone returning from an area that is currently in lockdown;
  • keeping any person who has been in close contact and required to self-isolate off site, and
  • keeping any person who has been tested for COVID-19 off site until they meet government rules for returning to site.

As the rules and restrictions differ in each jurisdiction, members should review their local area requirements. For state specific information, members should refer to the following:

3. Managing your workers

If you have a worker who tests positive for COVID-19, they will be under strict directions from the public health authority in your state to isolate at home immediately.

For other staff or workers that have been at a workplace where a COVID-19 positive person has attended, the businesses will need to determine who, if anyone, has been in ‘close contact’ with the person. Each state has rules on managing workers that are either close or casual contacts.

For further information regarding management of your workers including any employees, members should refer to the following:

4. Notify the Safety Regulator and Health Authority

In most jurisdictions, you must notify your state or territory work health and safety regulator and health authority regarding any notification of COVID-19.  However, the criteria for notification differs slightly in each state.

Members should refer to the Work Health Safety Incident Notification COVID-19 Fact Sheet for further information.

5. Work with the authorities

The public health authorities in each jurisdiction may have slightly different requirements and procedures in response to positive cases.

It is expected that public health authorities will contact businesses impacted by a positive case to:

  • Provide advice regarding contact tracing and infection control measures.
  • Provide a risk assessment to determine what level of exposure has occurred and to determine:
  • What level of cleaning is required; and
  • What communication is required, such as a media release to advise members of the public to self-isolate if necessary.
  • Ask for details of all any potential close contacts. This may include employees, visitors and contractors who attended site or were close to the positive case.

6. Notify close contacts

You should provide written notification to all staff, visitors, contractors, and clients that there has been a positive COVID-19 case at your site.  The notification should include details such as:

  • Symptoms to be aware of.
  • Where they can seek further help and information from.
  • Reminder that anyone with any symptoms should stay home and not enter the site.
  • Advice on physical distancing and personal hygiene.
  • What infection control measures have been undertaken on site.

Public health authorities are also responsible for providing all relevant advice to identified close contacts.

It is important that you maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the COVID-19 positive individual and follow the advice of the Public Health authorities.

7. Cleaning and Disinfecting the Site

On the advice of public health authorities, you should clean and disinfect the site at which a positive COVID-19 case has been present.

If directed to do so, you should clean all surfaces with a detergent and water solution first and leave to dry. Once dry, the surfaces can then be disinfected. It is important to follow this process as disinfectant applied to unclean surfaces may not kill the virus.

For further information regarding cleaning, including recommended products, you should refer to Safe Work Australia.

8. Consider if your business needs to close down

Whilst it is not always necessary for a business to be closed due to a positive case, there are a few scenarios which may cause a business to shut down temporarily including:

  • To allow cleaning and disinfecting to occur. If possible, businesses can complete the cleaning overnight to minimize any impact on their business.
  • Staff implications.  A business may be required to close as all, or a large portion of staff have been close contacts and are required to self-isolate.

If your site is required to be shut down, members should refer to HIA’s information sheet Securing a residential building site and building work

To find out more, contact HIA's Workplace Services team

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