Case Study – COVID-19 in your WorkplaceSuspected case of COVID-19 while at work
Patrice and Dale farm hydroponic spinach and other greens for the restaurant industry. Their workers are a mix of permanent employees and temporary labour hire. Some of the labour hire workers share a group house on the property. During the day one of the permanent staff, Eddie, tells Patrice that he suspects he could have COVID-19. He assumed he just had a cold but had now received a call to learn that a friend he regularly sees has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Eddie wants to go and get tested and Patrice agrees that this is a good idea. She checks that he has his own transport to get him to a testing clinic in the next town and requests other staff to keep their distance while he collects his things and leaves.
Patrice calls her state’s health helpline for their advice.
Patrice decides to suspend picking for the rest of the afternoon and after a staff briefing sends the labour workers back to the share house. Although the business is not required to suspend operations, Patrice is conscious that Eddie worked in many different parts of the greenhouse that day, and due to his close contact with other workers, she’ll need to thoroughly clean and seek expert advice about how she should handle those living in close quarters.
Patrice reviews her staff rosters to identify who worked with Eddie in the last 48 hours. She contacts these workers and follows the advice given to her by the health helpline for quarantine.
Patrice cleans and disinfects all areas of the greenhouse that Eddie was likely in contact with, including tools, taps, door handles and the cupboard where staff keep their belongings. She wears gloves and practices good hand hygiene. It turned out Eddie didn’t contract the virus. There was some interruption to the business for a few hours, but taking time to reset the workplace gave staff greater confidence to return the next day, and Patrice time to review her existing WHS control measures and procedures.