Employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and other people. This includes having measures in place to eliminate or manage the risks arising from COVID-19.
To do this WorkSafe Tasmania advises:
- to keep up to date with Tasmanian Government advice on controls to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including any restrictions on normal business activities, and respond accordingly
- if there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your place of business, you should seek advice from Public Health Services by calling the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738
- if Public Health Services becomes aware of a positive diagnosis, it has procedures in place to track the movements of the person and will provide advice on what action should be taken
- current legislative requirements remain in force; however, if you are unable to meet your regulatory obligations because of COVID-19 then WorkSafe Tasmania will take a reasonable and proportionate response.
If employers need to make changes to usual working hours/days or systems of work, they must do a risk assessment and control any risks found. Issues that could arise include fatigue, work breaks, workers' training/skill levels, and providing information, training and supervision to insure workers' safety. WorkSafe Tasmania’s website has guidance on how to manage these issues.
An employer’s duty of care under WHS laws is to actively identify risks and be prepared to implement control measures to remove or reduce them. The onset of a pandemic such as COVID-19 can happen quickly, so employers should develop their business continuity plan, addressing the anticipated business risks of a pandemic and ensure it addresses WHS issues. For information on how to develop a pandemic plan see here.
For more COVID-19 specific guidance and resources — including workplace safety, pandemic planning, industry-specific guidance (including construction, retail, transport and more), working safely from home, and COVID-19 incident notification requirements — see WorkSafe Tasmania’s COVID-19 advice. Please check this website regularly for updates.
Under the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, employers are required to pay compensation to a worker who has contracted COVID-19 and their employment contributed to this to a substantial degree. The issue is one of determining that the worker’s employment is the major or most significant factor in them contracting COVID-19.
For more COVID-19 specific guidance on workers compensation, for employers and workers, see WorkSafe Tasmania's website. Please check this website regularly for any updates.