On 24 April 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to the 10 proposed National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles (Principles). The complete version of the Principles can be found here. The purpose of the Principles is to provide a framework for businesses to facilitate the safe return to work.
The 10 Principles published on Safe Work Australia’s (SWA) website can be summarised as follows:
1. All workers have the right to a safe and healthy work environment.
2. A uniquely focused work health and safety approach is required to apply to businesses, workers and others in the workplace.
3. Businesses must, in consultation with workers and their representatives, assess the way they work to identify, understand and quantify risks and to implement and review control measures to address those risks.
4. As restrictions reduce, businesses and other duty holders must work together to adapt and promote safe work practices, to ensure their workplaces are ready for the social distancing and exemplary hygiene practices.
5. Businesses and workers must actively control against the transmission of COVID-19 once they have returned to work consistent with the advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
6. Businesses must prepare for the possibility for cases of COVID-19 at work and be ready to respond immediately and effectively and consistent with the advice from health authorities.
7. While the existing State and Territory jurisdictions for work health and safety remain critical for compliance and enforcement, a consistent national approach is key and this includes communicating best practice in prevention, migration and response to COVID-19 risks.
8. Safe Work Australia will provide information and guidance through a central hub for Australian businesses.
9. State and Territory authorities will have the ultimate of providing advice, education, compliance and enforcement, but will be able to leverage the use of the SWA hub.
10. The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission will complement the work of SWA.
If you would like assistance in understanding what practices your workplace should be implementing for the return of your staff to work, please contact the team at Justitia.
Julia Eastoe is a lawyer at Justitia. To view Julia’s profile, click here.