No matter what your business is, COVID-19 would have more than likely affected it in some way. Whether your staff are now working from home, you have had to wind back your operations or you have had to shut up shop temporarily, business owners all over Australia are adapting to the new rules, regulations and a different way of running things.
Although some restrictions are easing across Australia, as of 1 June 2020, Queensland entered Stage 2 of eased restrictions. Stage 2 means that some business, including:
- retail shops;
- motels, hotels and caravan parks;
- restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars;
- beauty, hair and nail salons; and
- gyms, health clubs, dance studios and yoga studios
are now all able to operate as normal, providing they adhere to a COVID Safe Plan.
What is a COVID Safe Plan?
A COVID Safe Plan is a way of highlighting the steps you are taking to protect the health and safety of your patrons, customers and employees.
COVID Safe Plans have been introduced as a way of holding industries accountable for themselves, by establishing best practice and ensuring it is maintained by other businesses in the industry. Not only is it a way of showing your customers and employees that you care about their safety, it also ensures that the further easing of restrictions can take place sooner.
COVID Safe Plans are not mandatory, however, they are recommended as most businesses will be taking heed of the advice of the government to prepare one, and any business that does not have a Safe Plan in place may be perceived to not be taking safety precautions seriously.
Is a COVID Safe Plan the Same as a COVID Safe Checklist?
No. A COVID Safe Checklist is mandatory for some businesses that are deemed a higher risk. These businesses are typically ones where more human-to-human contact is made, such as drinking or dining establishments or businesses that offer beauty services. Those businesses are required to complete a COVID Safe Checklist and display it in a prominent place on their premises, such as on the front door or at the front counter.
What to Do if Your Business Does Not Require a COVID Safe Checklist
If your business is not in an industry that requires a COVID Safe Checklist to be completed and displayed, it does not mean it is exempt from taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
Under Work Health & Safety legislation, employers in Queensland are obligated, insofar as it is reasonably practicable, to protect their workers, plus anyone else in the workplace, from exposure to COVID-19. The best way a business can do this is by preparing its own COVID Safe Plan that takes into consideration the business’ operations and outlines any updates to those practices to align them with the recommendations of the federal and state governments and Queensland Health.
Your business’ plan may simply be an extension of the existing Workplace Health & Safety policy that your organisation has, which can be updated to include new safety measures such as:
- training for staff on any new regulations;
- working from home or other flexible working arrangements;
- social distancing and hygiene precautions for those working in the office or other premises; and
- what steps to take if an employee falls ill and has been in contact with other employees.
While it is not compulsory to submit your COVID Safe Plan to any government agency, it is compulsory for all operating businesses to have a Workplace Health & Safety plan in place. Now is the best time to update your WHS policy to ensure it takes into consideration all the new considerations COVID-19 has brought.
For assistance with creating or updating your existing Workplace Health & Safety plan or preparing a COVID Safe Plan, contact our human resources consultancy team to find out how they can assist you.