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Employers must lead by example under new face mask restrictions in NSW

Published June 23, 2021 (last updated on June 28, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer

masked male employee in corporate space

Businesses in New South Wales affected by new mandatory face mask rules need to set the standard and ensure all staff, customers, and clients abide by new regulations to protect from the latest COVID-19 cluster.

As of 4pm, 23rd June for at least one week, a range of restrictions are in place for Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong, and Shellharbour, including the mandatory wearing of face masks for all indoor settings, including workplaces.

Employers must direct employees to comply with the health direction until otherwise advised by authorities, or unless an exception applies.

“These affected businesses, particularly those in Sydney, cater to hundreds, if not thousands of customers and workers each day. Employers must remain vigilant over the next week and realise the responsibility falls directly on them,” said Larry Drewsen, Health and Safety manager at Peninsula, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor.

“Employers must review health directions and government information to understand what it means for their business, what their staff need to do, and whether exemptions apply. Ensuring staff comply will be a matter of monitoring workplace behaviour, and failure for staff to comply would allow an employer to commence a disciplinary process against the relevant employee.”

By now, employers should know what a lockdown means for them. Abide by the rules, or risk a fine, or the health of their staff, customers, and clients. As well as enforcing the wearing of masks, workplaces should ensure they’re following personal hygiene guidelines, and that routine environmental cleaning and disinfecting takes place regularly.

An effective infection control policy that includes ways to quickly identify and assess hazards in the workplace is key to eliminating or minimising the risk of transmission. This policy may include physical distancing, regular handwashing with soap and the use of hand-sanitiser.

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.

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.

“While this is a stressful time for business owners as we wait for the vaccine rollout to speed up, all of us must work to stop the spread of this latest cluster, until we are in a better position to lift restrictions once more,” concluded Mr Drewsen.

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