Darwin employers must remain cautious during lockdown

Published August 16, 2021 -
Darwin Lockdown

Business owners in Greater Darwin and surrounding areas must ensure they are aware of their obligations under the latest COVID-19 lockdown, according to Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor.

A positive case has forced authorities to introduce a snap three-day lockdown for Darwin and the Katherine region to limit the possible spread. As a result, a range of businesses must stay closed, or operate in a limited capacity for longer, as health authorities continue contact tracing.

“As we’re currently seeing in New South Wales and Victoria, these snap lockdowns are the new normal that we’ll be living in for some time until vaccination rates lift,” said Employsure senior employment relations advisor Michael Wilkinson.

“These lockdowns, while needed, add a significant financial strain on small business. Employers will be feeling anxious, and many are operating at a far bigger loss than whatever financial support they’re being offered. Some businesses are resilient and have gotten good at shifting operations where applicable, but for others, these restrictions add to an already heavy financial and emotional toll.”

If employers in affected industries are told to close during lockdown, they need to abide by these rules. Not only will they incur a fine if they fail to do so, but they risk the health of their staff, customers, and clients.

For those who can remain open, they need to direct employees to wear a mask at all times in the workplace (unless an exemption applies) and ensure their COVID Safe Plan is regularly reviewed and implemented. Businesses that can switch their operations by having employees work from home must do so.

Business owners should plan for the worst and hope for the best. If an employee or independent contractor tests positive to COVID-19 over the coming days and has physically been in the workplace while infected, the employer must notify health authorities as soon as they become aware.

Having an effective infection control policy that includes identifying and assessing the infection hazards at the workplace and implementing specific controls can help eliminate or minimise the risk of transmission. These may include physical distancing, regular handwashing with soap and the use of hand-sanitiser. Appropriate routine environmental cleaning and disinfection should occur regularly at all workplaces.

Should a worker or employee fall ill, additional control measures need to be initiated. This includes isolating the infected person, identifying anyone they may have come in contact with and disinfecting the areas they have been working in.

“There is no disputing that action is required to stop the spread of the virus, particularly given the highly contagious nature of the strain,” continued Mr Wilkinson.

“To help restrictions ease as soon as possible, business owners need to ensure they meet their health and safety responsibilities, comply with their legal obligations, and follow government directions.”

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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