05 Mar Coronavirus – What You Need to Know
Coronavirus – or COVID-19 – has been declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a Public Emergency of International Concern. Though there have only been a limited number of cases in Australia so far, as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and develop, it seems increasingly likely that it will begin to affect almost all industries, including the wall and ceiling industry.
AWCI believes that the best way to handle these kinds of situations is to be as prepared as possible and to take necessary precautions. As a rule of thumb, businesses who are over-prepared for crisis scenarios fare better than businesses who are under-prepared – or worse yet, not prepared at all.
The extent to which COVID-19 will spread is unpredictable, as are the potential ramifications and outcomes on a global level. However, the precautions that can be taken now to protect your business from the effects of coronavirus will also be relevant and helpful during the upcoming flu and cold season.
Currently in Australia, the people who are most at risk of contracting coronavirus are those who have recently been to mainland China or Iran, or who have been in close contact with someone who is confirmed to have coronavirus.
Workplace Health & Safety Laws
In accordance with Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, businesses must, within reason, ensure the health and safety of their workers by identifying hazards and eliminating or minimising associated risks. The COVID-19 is a potential hazard and so necessary precautions to minimise the associated risks must be taken.
How to Help Mitigate the Effects of Coronavirus
So how can you help mitigate the effects of coronavirus in your business? Some ways to identify and minimise the risks associated with coronavirus include:
- Ensure you and your staff understand coronavirus and are up to date on the latest information, using reputable sources such as government health departments and WHO.
- Review, update or implement infection control policies, practices, and procedures and ensure that they are being followed and are effective.
- Talk to any employees who are at risk of having contracted COVID-19, such as those who have recently travelled to mainland China or Iran, are planning to travel overseas for work in the near future, or who have been in contact with other confirmed cases of COVID-19. These employees should be advised to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
- Review the facilities and products you provide employees which allow them to maintain effective hygiene practices, such as hand sanitiser.
- Consider the effect on your business if key staff are required to self-isolate. In this scenario, would you still have everything you need to maintain an effective business? Or is there any way that staff would continue to be able to work from home and do they have the resources to do so?
- Take into consideration your supply chain and whether these resources will continue to be available in the event of a crisis. This includes services that you may outsource, such as accounting or ICT.
- If your business is public facing, be prepared and armed with knowledge to answer questions clients or customers may have regarding hygiene.
As COVID-19 is an evolving situation, it’s important to stay updated so that you can continue to provide your employees and customers with the necessary precautions to mitigate risks. In particular, it is important to document the appropriate plans in your Business Continuity Plan and that you regularly update and practice this plan.
AWCI is carefully monitoring developments regarding COVID-19 and will keep members updated.