Small-business owners have already kicked off preparations for their big opening on Wednesday, but business experts are asking them to consider a few things before they swing their doors open.
Safe Work Australia has issued a message to employers, reminding them to remember all their health and safety obligations as their businesses reopen.
“Employers should take the time to review their health and safety processes and consult with their workers or health and safety representatives about controls in place to keep everyone safe,” Work Safe health and safety executive director Julie Nielsen said.
“In the excitement to reopen and get back on the job, it is important that employers seriously take stock of health and safety risks in their business.
“Many businesses have been closed for a long period, but that is no excuse for failing to protect workers from being injured or harmed while on the job.”
Tips for reopening
Similarly, Gavan Ord, manager of business and investment policy at CPA Australia, shared his top 10 tips for business owners bracing for 11:59pm.
According to Mr Ord, business owners should:
- Consider the costs of reopening now or waiting until restrictions are eased further or they are better prepared.
- Ensure they have a COVID-safe plan that meets the government’s requirements and work with staff to implement it.
- Take their time and get their plan right before reopening; customers may complain or walk if they’re not COVID-safe.
- Expect their staff to be a little rusty and take the time to re-acquaint them with their business’s policies and procedures.
- Inform their suppliers that they are reopening. With only a short time to re-stock, focus on local suppliers first.
- Advise their customers that they are reopening through their website, social media, direct mail or other channels.
- For hospitality businesses, encouraging customers to book in advance will help business owners plan their purchases and staff rosters.
- If they are required to record patron details, look for options such as electronic QR codes to simplify the process.
- Continually review your cash flow, staffing arrangements, stock on hand and forward orders and don’t be afraid to make adjustments.
- Seek advice from an accountant urgently if not sure about the best course of action.
Fines for bad behaviour
WorkSafe Victoria has reminded that employers that fail to protect their workers and the public will face tough penalties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“We are urging employers; don’t be complacent, don’t rush, take health and safety seriously and ensure you meet your obligations,” she said.
“Our inspectors will continue to visit workplaces and, where necessary, WorkSafe can and will take enforcement action.”
There are a variety of penalties available from the courts for breaching the OHS Act, including a maximum of 25 years of imprisonment for individuals and up to $16.5 million in fines for body corporates.