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Coronavirus: Safe Work Australia's tips for how to deal with it at work

Safe Work Australia has published a guide on what to do if an employee has coronavirus. Images: Getty

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has highlighted the steps businesses need to take if they have a suspected coronavirus case on their hands, in a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon. 

“I want to draw people's attention to the simple procedures that Safe Work Australia have set out,” he said, noting there has been some confusion about the matter. 

“This deals with where there may be a suspected case of Covid-19 at work.”

These are the seven steps: 

  1. Isolate the person from other people, and provide them with a mask if available. 

  2. Inform the national coronavirus hotline (1800 020 080) of the case and then follow their advice. 

  3. Transport: Make sure the person has transport to their home or a hospital or medical centre. 

  4. Clean the area where the suspected case was working. And this will take more than a quick clean – it might mean evacuating the area and personal protective equipment will need to be worn while cleaning.

  5. Identify any other people at the workplace who have been in close contact with the suspected or confirmed case in the 24 hours before they began to show symptoms. Then, send those people home to isolate and speak to other colleagues and employees. 

  6. Clean the areas where people who have been in close contact with the victim have been working in and all common areas. Again, this might mean evacuating the premises, and personal protective equipment must be worn. 

  7. Review: The final step is to review the risk management controls and whether workplace practices might need to be changed. And: tell your staff what’s going on. 

What if they’re not at work when diagnosed? 

In this case, you need to ring the hotline and identify any employees who have been in close contact with the case and send those workers home to self-isolate. Then, clean the areas where the case and their close contacts have been and again review risk management controls. 

“From a WHS perspective, there is not an automatic requirement to close down an entire workplace, particularly if the person infected, or suspected to be infected, has only visited parts of the workplace,” Safe Work Australia has stated on its website.

And offices also need to be aware of privacy obligations. 

More workplace resources are available in Safe Work Australia’s coronavirus business resource kit.

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