Duty in the Workplace
As individuals we all have a role to play in helping to prevent the spread of disease. The easiest and most important thing is to continue to practice good hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes and washing hands thoroughly with soap.
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, employers must – as far as reasonably possible – ensure the health and safety of workers, contractors and other persons at the workplace are not put at risk in the workplace (s19).
Workers and every other person in a workplace also have a health and safety duty to:
- take reasonable care for their own health and safety
- take reasonable care that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of others, and
- comply with any reasonable instruction by their employer (s28 and s29).
Anyone who becomes unwell or suspects they may have symptoms of Coronavirus should notify their manager as soon as practicable. Managers and impacted staff members should also discuss the situation and respond in a manner that ensures, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of the individual and other persons in the workplace.
Actions may include, for example:
- Working from home
- Taking leave
- Attending a medical examination
- Notifying other persons who may have become exposed to the virus and/or
- Notifying NSW Health and seeking their advice.
Employers have a duty of care obligation to identify health and safety risks in the workplace, to assess the risks, and to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that risks are eliminated and/or controlled.
The contacts for specific workplace information related to COVID-19 are the Industrial Officers in LGNSW’s Workplace Relations Unit, who can be contacted on (02) 9242 4142.
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