When I first heard about COVID-19, I jokingly made plans to inoculate myself with a couple of Corona beers that night. Now, months after we first became aware of the issue, that seems a little inappropriate. With a better appreciation of the enormity of this hazard, we’re now releasing a very sobering Coronavirus WHS response, in the form of a Coronavirus Policy Document and a Coronavirus SWMS. This article will introduce and support your implementation of these life-saving and WHS-shaping resources.
There was a lot of initial mystery (and perhaps even misinformation). A measure of that has also continued. But we’ve got more data now, and we’re in a position to act decisively and effectively.
Unlike most of our articles, this is for everyone: PCBUs, team leaders, senior contractors, every worker and every visitor to the site. It will introduce the overarching content of our Coronavirus WHS Policy, as well as our Coronavirus SWMS.
The Covidiot Factor
We live in a world that is very different, even one month ago. One sneeze and a room empties, those weird plastic notes are suddenly sensible, and many of us now understand why our dogs get so excited when they hear “Walk”. Our lives have changed. Right from the outset, Taiwan and Singapore went all 'Darth Vader’: wearing masks, breathing differently, staying away from their kids, keeping a light-sabre’s distance from co-workers, and remaining vigilant of 'The Force' around them. The rest of the world is increasingly following their example.
But everyone isn’t getting the message. As a result, the Coronavirus has also spawned a new word: covidiot. It refers to people that endanger themselves and others by refusing to follow Covid-19 safe practices.
This article, and the products introduced, should reduce the level of covidiocy in your workplace.
The Importance of Coronavirus WHS Documents
These documents took a while to produce. Information and recommendations kept changing and things needed to settle down. We didn’t want to be the first in the market to respond to COVID. We wanted to be the best in our response.
We wanted to provide the most professional Coronavirus WHS response possible. We’re now able to do that.
- By providing and implementing this policy and SWMS, PCBUs should cover their due diligence and duty of care responsibilities (personal circumstances allowed for).
- By complying with the COVID-19 policy and SWMS, a worker not only protects themself, and those around them, but may also remove threats of liability that may come later.
It’s a litigious world, and everyone from the worksite to the Boardroom needs to exercise diligence, or risk ending up in a courtroom. We’re in ‘unprecedented’ territory right now.
Together, we need to get this done.
Appreciating the Big Picture of Coronavirus WHS
The big picture must start with this awareness: we’re all in this together! There are no exceptions.
The Coronavirus is a mongrel! It’s a bunch of bad characteristics, grown together, and replicating itself far and wide. It’s unseen, yet it has our full attention. It’s impacting our lives in ways that would have seemed unimaginable even weeks ago. It doesn’t discriminate, it is barely predictable, it’s a hideous way to get sick, and it’s a terrible way to die. Sure, it doesn’t always kill, but how many deaths is an okay number? We’re all in this together.
We need to make a coordinated team response.
Introducing the Coronavirus Policy Document
It’s not unusual for a WHS policy to apply across all departments, all workplaces, all employees, all subcontractors and all visitors. What is unusual is that the worst outcome of non-compliance applies equally to everyone. COVID-19 disrespects and punishes without prejudice.
You’ll be pleased to know, even though COVID-19 is severe, this is a professional Coronavirus WHS document. It isn’t a scare sheet! The wording is deliberate and measured for effect. It is serious when it needs to be, while also acknowledging that (and I quote), “most people who become ill with respiratory symptoms at work are likely suffering from a cold, the flu or other respiratory illness – not COVID-19.
Good policy responds to factual circumstances.
What’s in this COVID-19 Policy Document
The Coronavirus Policy uses standard WHS inclusions: proper introductions, a scope, company and personal responsibilities, PPE, and the usual sign off space for company representatives. What differs in this policy is that detailed clarifications are provided regarding self-isolation, hand washing and the cleaning of surfaces.
When it comes to workplace health and safety, dealing with bacterial hazards is nothing new. But never before, at least in our lifetime, have we seen biological risks simultaneously impact so many types of industries, work environments and workers. Coronavirus truly is unprecedented.
Coronavirus Policy, therefore, details specific:
- Statutory workplace illness notification and response requirements,
- Advice re Apps and website recommendations,
- Personal hygiene practices,
- Distancing measures,
- Absentee standards,
- Facility standards,
- Supply standards,
- Sign standards, and
- PPE advice.
Read the WHS Policy Document for Yourself
You can secure a copy of our Occupational Safety Solutions Coronavirus Policy document or Coronavirus SWMS (which we’ll explain below) by following the link. They are available, or as a reduced price combination pack.
The Coronavirus SWMS is Critical Focus in Action
If we’re fortunate enough to be still working, and not confined to home, then we need to protect that luxury. If we’re working, we’re becoming a rare breed, and it’s a breed we can work together to protect.
Deliberate focus is critical. Unlike those confined to home, we aren’t experiencing Vegas-like disorientation. We aren’t losing all our money, we usually know what time it is, cocktails are not acceptable at any hour, and if we stink a bit, it’s because we’re working. We also know what to do next!
That’s what the COVID-19 SWMS is all about.
Like the policy document, the SWMS follows standard conventions. It addresses safe work methods by step, procedure, hazard, risk, safety controls and delegation of responsibility. Procedurally, it addresses the specifics of:
- Checking for COVID-19 updates
- Working with others during COVID-19
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces during COVID-19
- Using hazardous substances or chemicals
- Completion of work or end of workday processes.
We know that policies and SWMS don’t save lives – the people that implement them do! When your workplace covidiots fail to implement Coronavirus WHS, they can kill people. Covidiots kill! Maybe not every time, but the potential is there every time. This is one WHS practice we’ve got to get done!
Unfortunately, the adage of ‘just get it done’ has become as rare as a crowded train (at the moment), so adopting Coronavirus WHS protocols across a workplace will undoubtedly mean dealing with some covidiots. How you do that, as a leader or a team member, rests in your hands.
These Coronavirus WHS documents will certainly help, but you have to be the ‘Covi-legend’ (yes, it’s corny, but I want to leave it there).
The COVID-19 Policy and SWMS are Ready For You, But …
What we know about Coronavirus, and how we respond to it is constantly changing. Updates to Coronavirus WHS advice are likely, and if you’re an Occupational Safety Solutions customer, you’ll receive updates as soon as we’re able to act on them.
It’s suggested you also download the Coronavirus Australia App as a first notification source. You might also see something in the news, or hear something from a work colleague. Stay aware of what you hear, prioritise the information you get from reputable sources, and in all circumstances, if you’re not sure, err on the side of caution. Too safe is better than too lazy.
If you have a COVID-19 WHS question, and it doesn’t relate to our products, your best approach is contact State or Federal health authority websites. We’ve provided links to these services below (or at least what was correct at time of publication):
To purchase the Coronavirus WHS documents, follow these links:
- The Coronavirus Policy Document (only)
- The Coronavirus SWMS (only), or
- The (discounted) combination Coronavirus Policy Document and SWMS Pack
If you have a question about either COVID-19 WHS products, or anything else relevant to workplace health and safety, you can check the product pages (shown above), complete the Contact Request Form, or phone 1800 304 336. If you’re not sure who to call, call us. If we can help, we will. If we can’t, we’ll try and point you in the right direction.
Hopefully, in the not too distant future, when a friend phones and says they’ve got a case of Corona, you’ll smile, tell them to come on over, and you’ll chill the schooner glasses and cut up the lime. Until then, stay safe!