Welcome to Alert Level 3 - Operating Safely with COVID-19
At 11.59pm on Monday we moved to alert level 3. It is a welcome milestone and allows non-essential businesses to operate again, provided they can do so safely and with no direct physical contact with the public. Workers who can work from home must continue to do so.
Operating safely means complying with the government’s alert level 3 rules at https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/alert-level-3/, the Ministry of Health advice at https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-health-advice-general-public and the Health and Safety At Work Act 2015.
Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 obliges PCBUs (persons conducting a business or undertaking) to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of workers and others affected by their work. In the Covid 19 landscape that means identifying the risks posed by the virus, implementing measures to eliminate or control them and regularly reviewing all of this. PCBUs who share a workplace or work have overlapping duties and must consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities with each other to ensure they are met.
Officers of PCBUs (i.e. those who can significantly influence the PCBU’s management, such as company directors) must exercise due diligence by understanding the risks, the government rules and health guidance (including that of any relevant industry bodies), allocating sufficient resources to manage the risks and ensuring regular reviews take place. Officers who do not exercise due diligence will be personally liable for penalties.
Workers have duties to take reasonable care of their own health and safety, to not affect the health and safety of others and to comply with reasonable instructions and policies of the PCBU.
All operating businesses must implement a special Covid 19 risk assessment and health and safety plan for alert level 3. Useful information and template plans are available at WorkSafe’s website. The plan should at least cover:
· The maximum number of workers on site to allow physical distancing of at
least 1m (2m in an uncontrolled environment) and how to achieve that.
· Keeping records of everyone on site to facilitate contact tracing.
· Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
· Providing hand washing and sanitising facilities.
· Information on hygiene and health (hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette
and staying home if sick).
· The supply and use of PPE, if relevant.
· Checking on the wellbeing of workers (i.e. their physical and mental health).
· Working with other PCBUs.
· Consulting with and training workers about the plan.
· Regularly reviewing the plan.
The plan should also cover those working from home. There was little time to help set up home workspaces at alert level 4 however businesses can now (safely) deliver equipment and furniture if needed. Social isolation and stress are health risks too, so businesses should communicate with their workers to ensure they are supported.
The government is expected to announce the country’s next alert level on 11 May 2020. Even if we move to level 2, restrictions on working will likely continue. The employment team at Corcoran French will keep monitoring this and we’re here to support you.