All workers are entitled to safe working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm or injury to their health and overall well being. Workers who are provided with safe and healthy workplace conditions are more likely to report to work during a pandemic.
Thus, it is important to introduce safety measures in order to continue providing a healthy work environment to allow for the continuation of the business. If your employer has neglected to implement safety measures and your health has been compromised as a result, get in touch with lawyers in Melbourne for professional legal advice.
What Is A Pandemic?
A pandemic is the global spread of a new and uncontrolled disease. The virus typically starts in one place and makes its way around the world, infecting and killing thousands of people at a rapid pace. Lack of human immunity is what makes the virus so threatening. And as to be expected, transmissions of the virus can easily occur in a workplace situation where human to human contact is so close.
Whether exposure occurs amongst co-workers or from patient to workers in a healthcare setting, transmissions are to be anticipated. Hence why it is important for employers to utilize a set of occupational health and safety measures in order to reduce the chances of exposure.
Set The Expectation That Sick Employees Must Stay Home
Although regular attendance at work is a standard business expectation, a pandemic poses challenges to this norm. Ensuring that sick employees stay home from work is the first safety measure that should be implemented in the workplace.
Not only will this ensure that ill employees will recover fully before returning to work but it will also protect other individuals from getting sick. This is particularly important if workers have compromised immune systems making them vulnerable to contracting the virus. Although you cannot control exposure outside the workplace, it is your obligation to address it within a work environment.
Encourage And Promote Hygiene Practises
Encourages workers to wipe down surfaces with anti-bacterial before and after use as well as frequently used objects such as keyboards and telephones in order to kill any germs that may be lingering around. Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer, promote correct and regular hand washing and remind employees to avoid touching their mouth, nose, eyes or face as the virus typically is transmitted from surface to hands, and through the nose and mouth. If workers are in close proximity to the general public, consider providing masks and gloves in order to avoid direct contact where possible.
Provide Flexible Working Arrangements For High-Risk Employees
Some individuals may be more at risk of developing severe complications due to contracting a virus, so it is highly important for an employer to provide flexible working arrangements where possible and allow leave entitlements when requested. The current coronavirus pandemic is particularly harmful towards people with compromised immune systems and the elderly. If an employer refuses to grant leave to an immunocompromised individual, they are in contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009 and could be liable for any damages sought as a result.
When a pandemic has made its presence, it can often be a difficult adjustment from ‘normal’ life to life in a pandemic. However, it is a necessary adjustment that has the potential of saving thousands of lives. Ensure that your workplace follows safety measures in order to prevent the spread of the virus and promote the protection of workers. As an employer, it is your legal obligation to provide a safe work environment for your employees, failing to do so leaves you open for legal action and accountability.
Interesting related article: “What is the Coronavirus?“