Border reopening industry briefing

This week Management and Members of the CCF Board, joined a select group of key stakeholders for an industry briefing from representatives from State Growth, Worksafe and Public Health.   This briefing session follows recent information published by Public Health on COVID Outbreak Management and Preparing Your Business COVID-19 Cases and Outbreaks.  Management encourages all businesses to read these links carefully to be prepared for the 15 December reopening.

Public Health confirmed that some measure are likely to remain in place – hygiene measures, density restrictions and mask wearing in high risk situations – but will look to minimise disruptions to businesses once borders are open.  A lot of attention was put on businesses updating their COVID Management plans before the opening date.  We encourage all Members to review their safety plans and remind staff of their obligation under the plan before 15 December.

Below you can find the latest Covid Safety Plan templates and guidelines for small and medium sized businesses: 

Public Health officials also made clear that vaccination rates will determine whether businesses are able to continue to operate. Getting your workforces vaccinated is our best defence against prolonged disruptions to businesses.  Contact tracing will remain in place and PRC testing may be accompanied by rapid antigen testing (RAT) if we see cases rise and are required to test large parts of the community.

In the event that there is a case of COVID on a worksite or in a workplace, contact tracing, a risk assessment and testing will be required. Close contacts who are vaccinated will be required to isolate for 7 days, while unvaccinated people will be required to isolate for 14 days.

Cleaning post a positive case will be consistent with the cleaning requirements specified in existing COVID safety plans, meaning no need for deep cleaning or external cleaning services to be employed. Workplaces can continue to operate while cleaning is undertaken.  Several issues remain unclear and CCF will seek further clarification from Public Health so that business can properly prepare continuity plans in preparation for the reopening.

These issues include:

Mandates –WorkSafe Tasmania reiterated the governments call to encourage businesses to consider mandating vaccinations for their workforces. However, it remains unclear given the published advice from FWC as to the circumstances specific to construction businesses that would allow for employer to issues a reasonable and lawful direction to require mandatory vaccinations of their workforce.  WorkSafe did note that in order to issue such a direction that businesses must undertake a risk assessment of the “residual risk of not enforcing vaccinations in an environment where vaccination rates in the community are >90%.”    However, please read the FWC COVID-19 vaccination workplace rights information carefully before making a decision regarding mandatory vaccinations.

Contact Tracing – Public health mentioned that post 15 December we may see upwards of 200 cases reported per day for a period of time. Given the intent to keep contact tracing in place we are seeking further clarity as to the capacity of Public Health to facilitate contact tracing in the event that cases reach 200 cases or higher per day.  We are also seeking clarity as to whether contact tracing must be complete before a business can continue to operate in the event there is a case reported on site or in a workplace and whether this may be a risk to businesses ability to continue to operate.

Business and employee support – we are seeking further clarity as to the support available for employers and employees who are affected by COVID cases reported in their workplace.

WorkSafe resources to undertake risk assessment – in the event that a case is reported in a workplace or on a worksite WorkSafe has confirmed that a risk assessment must be undertaken to determine whether a business can continue to operate. We are seeking further clarification to the resources available for WorkSafe to undertaken these risks assessments in a reasonable timeframe that does not impact a businesses’ ability to continue to operate.

Close contacts – we are seeking greater clarity on the definition of a close contact to better understand the risks of workers needing to quarantine in the event of a reported case on a worksite.

Workers compensation risks – we are asking for clarification to the safety and potential workers compensation risks if a person contracts COVID on a worksite and becomes seriously unwell or dies. Given the requirement for businesses to undertake a risk assessment before enforcing vaccine mandates, it is unclear as to the risk to businesses if they choose to not mandate vaccines and therefore do not undertake a risk assessment of their work sites.

Management welcomes further feedback from Members before we next speak with Public Health and WorkSafe.

Also, don’t forget our WIN BEER FOR A YEAR competition, where CCF will shout a year of beer for one lucky person who is vaccinated and works for a member business.