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What is a COVID-19 Safety Plan?

Published September 02, 2020 (last updated June 2, 2022) - Head of Health and Safety

employer implements covid safety plan

COVID-19 has changed the world. Has your business changed with it? Preparing your business and your workplace for the new realities of COVID-19 will be essential, now and for the long term.

Under health and safety legislation you must ensure the health and safety of your workers, employees and others at the workplace, as far as is reasonably practicable. This includes ensuring minimising the risk workers and others at the workplace have of contracting COVID-19.

At all Alert Levels, businesses should have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place to protect their workforce and prevent the spread of COVID-19 as part of their management of health and safety risks.

Employsure is able to assist you in creating and implementing a COVID-19 Safety Plan. This article will hopefully answer some outstanding questions you may have.

How Do I Create A COVID Safety Plan?

Before putting together a plan, refer to official advice and directions regarding COVID-19.  This includes advice from the Government, Ministry of Health and any specific regional or industry advice. These authorities will have some guidelines as to what your obligations are as a business owner.

It is also part of your health and safety obligations to consult with your employees or workers for each stage of developing your COVID Safety Plan. Consultation involves giving your employees and workers a genuine opportunity to shape the health and safety decisions you make and can include

  • Sharing information
  • Inviting feedback
  • Talking about proposed measures and controls
  • Incorporating feedback into your COVID Safety Plan
  • Informing employees and workers about the reasons for your decision and options you considered

Step 1 – Identify the Risks

Ask yourself a series of questions, relating to your workers and how they may interact with each other and members of the public. In doing so, you can ascertain the risks of COVID-19 transmission between workers, or between the public and your workers.

For example, ask yourself:

  • Do you have any workers who recently came back from overseas or designated hot spots?
  • Does the work require regular and close contact between workers or with members of the public in your workplace?
  • Do any workers who undertake face-to-face work away from the main place of work, e.g. sales representatives?
  • Are you aware of anyone in the workplace who has returned a positive test for COVID-19?

Other important elements to consider if your business’s physical layout may make it difficult for staff or visitors to maintain social distancing, and the current health and safety measures you have in place.

The COVID Safety Planning Pack has an Assessment Tool included within it that can greatly assist you during this step.

Step 2 – Assess the Risks

Assess the risks you’ve identified as high, medium, or low based on their likelihood of occurring and the severity of the consequences.

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Step 3 – Control the Risks 

Having established the risks to your business, now you should go through how you will control the risks in your workplace. You can categorise the risks, for example, like so:

  • Physical distancing
  • Personal hygiene
  • Cleaning
  • Training
  • Record keeping
  • Communication
  • PPE
  • Emergency Response Plan, and
  • General (e.g. Government directions, ill workers)

By going through these categories, and controlling the aspects of each, you can better control the risks of COVID-19 transmission in your workplace.

Step 4 – Implement and Review

Once you’ve controlled the risks, you must implement your safety plan. If you need assistance with signs and posters to display your safety plan to others, download our COVID Safety Planning Pack below.

An important element to also include is reviewing your plan, Employsure recommends you go through these steps regularly to ensure your workplace is as COVID-safe as possible. The frequency of reviewing your plan will depend on the nature of the hazards and risks unique to your business.

COVID Safety Advice

By now, all business owners probably understand the basics of how COVID-19 is transmitted, and what the main recommendations are to limit the spread. As a refresher, the Government’s “golden rules” for businesses at Alert Level 2 are:

  • Reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work.
  • All businesses can operate if they can do so safely. Alternative ways of working are encouraged where possible.
  • Talk to staff to identify risks and ways to manage them.
  • Ask everyone (including workers, contractors and customers) with cold or flu-like symptoms to stay away from your premises.
  • Keep workers one metre apart and customer in retail businesses two metres apart.
  • Display a QR code and have an alternative contact tracing system.
  • Fae coverings are strongly encouraged if you are in close contact with others (and mandatory in some circumstances).
  • Reduce the number of shared surfaces, and regularly disinfect them.
  • Wash hands..

Other things to consider are the provision of PPE (including masks) to employees, and having signs and posters around the workplace to remind staff and visitors of the risks of COVID-19.

Steps to Become a COVID Safe Business

If you’d like more information on how to become a ‘COVID Safe’ business, why not download our FREE COVID-19 Safety Planning Pack?

While you can’t become 100% COVID safe, this pack can help you set up your business to reduce the risks from COVID-19. It will also give you peace-of-mind that you are getting the fundamentals right.

Download our COVID Safety Planning Pack now.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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