Physical distancing, wearing of protective equipment and masks, safe hygiene practices and fast responses to potential coronavirus cases are among steps which will be expected throughout workplaces in Victoria that will form the basis of reopening, the state premier says.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the Government will release its roadmap for the reopening of the state this coming Sunday.

Ahead of this, there will be consultation with industry on a COVIDSafe re-opening which will be based on advice from public health experts and informed by specific industry voices to determine how this can practically and safely occur.

According to Andrews, several principles will guide the reopening.

These include:

  • Ensuring physical distancing, including following density requirements, making sure staff work from home wherever possible, limiting the total number of staff and customers in an enclosed area, and stopping carpooling
  • Wearing face coveringsat all times in the workplace and ensuring full PPE is worn in high-risk settings
  • Requiring hygienic workplaces, with high-touch points regularly cleaned, staff regularly washing their hands, and hand sanitisers available for all staff and customers
  • Acting quicklyif staff become unwell by having a policy that supports them to stay home and get tested, even if they have mild symptoms. All places of work need to have a plan to act immediately if there is a confirmed case and records must be kept of all staff, customers and visitors.
  • Creating workforce bubbles where possible to restrict the number of staff who have close and prolonged contact with each other through, for example, having teams rosters on the same shifts, avoiding overlap in shift changes and reducing the number of staff who work on multiple sites.
  • Avoiding enclosed spaces wherever possible during meetings and lunchtimes by, for instance, opening up doors and windows rather then relying on recirculated air and moving meetings and lunchbreaks outside.

The latest announcement comes as building industry groups and unions have worked to continually updated guidelines for safe practice during the pandemic.

The most recent construction industry guidelines, published on August 21, can be seen here.

According to the guidelines, necessary measures include:

  • Screening workers coming to site
  • Workplace mapping to ensure that potentially affected colleagues can be identified where a worker is confirmed to have COVID
  • Physical distancing (1.5 meters wherever possible)
  • Encouraging good hygiene practices
  • Avoiding shared use of tools, plants and equipment where possible and cleaning/sanitising where this is not possible
  • Cleaning and disinfecting shared amenities and meal areas, personal hoists and frequently touch surfaces such as handrails, toilets or door handles
  • Implementing control measures for personal hoists
  • Use of personal protective equipment including face masks
  • Various measures for common areas including staggering meal breaks, sanitisation, spreading out furniture, increased cleaning (industrial grade) and staggered working hours
  • Cooperation with inspections from Workplace and the Victoria Building Authority
  • Encouraging suitable travel arrangements on the part of workers to and from the site
  • Communication with workers through information about these guidelines, site inductions and toolbox talks
  • Minimising risks for vulnerable workers such as those who are
  • Other measures such as avoiding face to face meetings where possible and considering offsite fabrication.

In a statement, Andrew said engagement with industry and unions will take place this week with advice to be provided to Victoria’s public health team who will consider feedback.

Based on outcomes of these consultations, the Government and its health experts will finalise the plan for re-opening by the end of the week.

“We know every Victorian wants certainty about the future – for them, for their family and for their work. By the end of the week, we will lay out a plan to re-open our state,” Andrews said.

“Workplaces will need to look very different as we find our ‘COVID Normal’. By working with business we’ll make sure that can happen practically and safely.”