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WorkSafe zeroes in on businesses breaching COVIDSafe rules

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
11 September 2020 1 minute readShare
businesses breaching COVIDSafe rules

The Victorian government is closely monitoring businesses to ensure they are complying with COVIDSafe practices under an ongoing WorkSafe blitz which has seen the regulator make over 3,000 inquiries and site visits.

To date, more than 300 companies have been issued with improvement notices by WorkSafe in the course of the blitz, which has also seen 30 companies placed under formal investigation.

Speaking to media on Thursday, the Victorian workplace safety minister, Jill Hennessy, gave an overview of the most common breaches.

“There’s been some examples of employers not allowing workers to work from home where that’s possible,” Ms Hennessy said.

“There’s been some cases of missing and inadequate personal protective equipment. There’s been examples — and there is surveillance occurring — of failing to maintain appropriate social distancing in some of those workplaces.”

In some circumstances, she noted, officers have found inadequate hygiene controls, a lack of health screening and a complete lack of procedures to deal with a worker testing positive.

“Those have been at a very high level, the sorts of issues that WorkSafe has been responding to in terms of the work that they’ve been doing in the course of the blitz,” Ms Hennessy said.

“And in terms of what some of the more granular examples of those things, an example is a transport and logistics company where reusable gloves are being used and they’re not being laundered properly; examples where in the construction industry, there are administrative staff that could equally and effectively do their work from home. Those are the sorts of examples.”

On the flipside, she noted, there’s a very great desire by employers and employees to ensure that their workplaces are as safe as possible.

“I want to thank and acknowledge all of the leaders, from representatives of workers to industry leaders, for the incredible commitment that they’re bringing to try and make sure that where we do have people back in workplaces that they’re as safe as possible,” she said.

In terms of WorkCover claims, Ms Hennessy explained that the regulator has so far received about 297. Interestingly, she noted, under half of those are related to mental health and wellbeing.

“Every single claim has been accepted and, again, WorkSafe is working hard with employers to make sure that some of the new frontiers of what the workplace looks like in a corona environment — and for many people that’s working at home — supporting employers and managers looking at trying to work out how we do that in a way that’s safe, both from a physical perspective and also from the perspective of mental health and wellbeing,” Ms Hennessy said.

WorkSafe zeroes in on businesses breaching COVIDSafe rules
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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