COVID-19 Compliance Check
The Motor Traders Association of New South Wales (MTA NSW
) is aware that regulatory bodies including SafeWork NSW have started conducting workplace health and safety compliance checks for businesses, given the significant health and safety risks posed by COVID-19. These compliance checks are conducted under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW), which impose a duty on business owners to eliminate and minimise risks to health and safety, as far as is reasonably practicable.
In addition some members of MTANSW may need to comply with Public Health Orders (No4) 2020, dated 30th June 2020, which requires the businesses listed in Schedule 1 to comply with a COVID-19 Safety Plan as approved by the Chief Health Officer.
To avoid prosecution from the regulatory bodies, the MTA NSW are encouraging businesses to have a COVID Safe Plan. As we have advised members in our previous EDMs in March there are practical steps to be taken in operating a business and being a COVID Safe business.
In addition to these practical measures in being a COVID Safe business, business owners have a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace and dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic is a requirement under work health and safety laws. Failure to comply with these laws will have significant consequences in the form of prosecution and fines, particularly given the recent amendments to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW), which increase the ability of SafeWork NSW to prosecute.
To assist businesses to be a COVID Safe Business, and to pass any compliance audit, various guidance tools have been made available by both the Federal and New South Wales Governments.
National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles
Safe Work Australia published in April 2020 the National COVID 19 Safe Work Principals. These can be viewed at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au. In summary, the key principals in operating a COVID Safe workplace are:
All workers, regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged, have a right to a healthy and safe environment.
Business must, in consultation with workers, and their representatives, assess the way they work to identify, understand and quantify risks and to implement review control measures to address those risks.
As COVID 19 restrictions are relaxed, business, workers and other duty holders must work together to adapt and promote safe work practices, consistent with advice from health authorities, to ensure the workplace is ready for social distancing and exemplary hygiene.
Business and workers must actively control against the transmission of COVIOD-19 at work consistent with the latest advice from the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee.
Business and workers must prepare for the possibility there will be COVID-19 cases in the workplace and be ready to respond immediately, such as collecting customer details for a period of at least 28 days.
COVID Resource Kit
Safe Work Australia has provided the Work Health and Safety Guidance for COVID-19 in accordance with the Principals. SafeWork Australia has stated that the keep workers safe and limit the spread of COVID-19 every employer should:
Ensure physical distancing by keeping a distance of at least 1.5 meters between people.
Encourage all workers to frequently wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
Be aware of how to spot COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath) and make sure workers do not come to work if they are unwell.
Make sure your workplace is regularly cleaned and disinfected.
Have signs and posters around the workplace to remind workers and others of the risk of COVID-19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread.
The COVID Resource Kit can be viewed here:
COVID-19 Safety Plans
The New South Wales Government has provided template COVID-19 Safety Plans which can be viewed at https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/covid-safe-businesses
If a business has a COVID-19 Safety Plan, then it can be registered as a COVID Safe Business. Members are encouraged to seek registration as a COVID Safe Business, which will assist in the event of a compliance audit being undertaken by SafeWork NSW or other government regulators.
SafeWork NSW provide free advisory visits and workshops for small business owners (up to 50 full time equivalent staff). To book a free advisory visit or workshop, please click the link here: https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/advice-and-resources/free-advisory-visits-and-workshops
What this means for you
You may be visited by an Inspector from SafeWork to ensure that you are providing a safe workplace. The MTA encourages all members to review their processes for eliminating and minimising health and safety risks, in particular the risks posed by COVID-19. MTA NSW encourages all members to register as a COVID Safe Business to assist you to meet your obligations.
If a member requires any further assistance on the proper work practices to adopt during the COVID-19 pandemic then please contact the Employment Relations Team at (02) 9016 9000 or email [email protected]