Physical distancing (also referred to as ‘social distancing’) refers to the requirement that people distance themselves from others.  The current advice from the Department of Health is that everyone must keep at least 1.5 metres apart from others (outside of their family unit) where possible. In addition, in a given space, there must be a 4 square metres of space per person where possible.

Why is physical distancing important?

Physical distancing is necessary because the most likely way of catching the virus is by breathing in micro-droplets from another person sneezing, coughing, or exhaling. By ensuring there is 4 square metres of space per person and maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others where possible, you will reduce the likelihood of exposure to micro-droplets of others.

Current health advice is that everyone, including people at workplaces, must implement physical distancing measures wherever possible. 

What physical distancing measures do I need to implement for delivery drivers?

Below are measures to ensure physical distancing is achieved for delivery drivers.

Remember, you must consult with workers and their representatives (e.g. health and safety representatives (HSRs)) on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19, including what control measures to put in place in your workplace. 

Drivers: while making deliveries:

  • You should implement processes for contactless deliveries (including electronic payments and paperwork) and make information about this available to your customers through your website or app so they know what to expect. 
  • You should direct your delivery drivers to:
    • avoid driving with passengers or other people
    • keep at least 1.5 metres distance from other people when dropping off the delivery
    • leave the food or parcel at the door then text or use the relevant app to let the recipient know it is there
  • Carry food and drink in the vehicle to avoid having to go into shops.

Drivers: picking up deliveries or parcels

  • Implement dedicated areas where food or parcels can be left ready for delivery so that drivers do not come in close contact with other staff.
  • Consider providing a dedicated driver waiting area, where possible, with signage and floor markings to ensure waiting drivers maintain physical distancing. 

Drivers and other staff gatherings and training

  • Postpone or cancel non-essential gatherings, meetings or training.
  • If gatherings, meetings or training are essential:
    • use non face-to-face options to conduct – e.g. electronic communication such as tele and video conferencing
    • if a non face-to-face option is not possible, ensure face-to-face time is limited. That is, make sure the gathering, meeting or training goes for no longer than it needs to
    • hold the gathering, meeting or training it in spaces that enable workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart and with 4 square metres of space per person – e.g. outdoors or in large conference rooms
    • limit the number of attendees in a gathering, meeting or training. This may require, for example, multiple training sessions to be held, and
    • ensure adequate ventilation if held indoors.

See also our information on training.  

Store and parcel depot facilities

  • Reduce the number of delivery drivers and other workers utilising common areas at a given time – e.g by staggering meal breaks and start times.
  • Spread out furniture in common areas. If changing the physical layout of the workplace, you must ensure the layout allows for workers to enter, exit and move about the workplace both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable. 
  • Place signage about physical distancing around the workplace. Our website has links to a range of posters and resources to help remind workers and others of the risks of COVID-19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread. These posters can be placed around the workplace and in client-facing work environments (e.g. workplace entrances). Consideration needs to be given to how to communicate with workers and others for who English is not their first language.  
  • Consider providing separate amenities for workers and others in the workplace – for example separate bathroom facilities for workers and visitors/clients.
  • Consider accepted proof of delivery or collection requirements (as applicable). If a pen or other utensil is required for signature you can ask that the pen or utensil is cleaned or sanitised before use. For pens, you may wish to use your own.

On-going review and monitoring

  • If physical distancing measures introduce new health and safety risks (e.g. because they impact communication or mean that less people are doing a task), you need to manage those risks too.
  • Put processes in place to regularly monitor and review the implementation of physical distancing measures to ensure they are being followed and remain effective

How do I make sure there is 4 square metres of space per person? 

To achieve the 4 square metre ‘rule’ you would:

  • calculate the area of the room (e.g length of room in metres x width of room in metres = area of room in square metres), and
  • divide the area of the room by 4.

For example, if you had a room that was 160 square metres in size, you should only allow up to 40 people in the room, to allow each person to have 4 square metres of space. 

How do I make sure there is 1.5 metres between people?

You should consider and make adjustments to the layout of the workplace and your workflows to enable workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart to continue performing their duties. For example, this could be achieved by, spreading out furniture or plant to increase distancing, or considering floor and/or wall markings and signage to identify 1.5 metres distancing requirements.
You should also review tasks and processes that usually require close interaction and identify ways to modify these to increase physical distancing between workers where it is practical and safe to do so. 

Do I need to do both? That is, make sure there is 4 square metres per person and physical distancing of 1.5 metres? 

Yes. You need to do what you can to make sure there is 4 square metres in your workplace per person and keep everyone apart at least 1.5 metres, where possible.

My workers cannot maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres when performing work. Does this mean they cannot perform work?

It will not always be possible for workers and others to keep 1.5 metres apart at all times at the workplace. For example,  workers may have to work closely with each other or others because of the nature of the task, and some tasks require workers to be in close proximity to be carried out safely. For example, when moving heavy items..
Working in close contact increases the risk of workers being exposed to COVID-19. You must consider whether the work task must be completed or could be rescheduled to a later date. If the task must be completed and your workers will be in close contact, you must undertake a risk assessment to determine what control measures are reasonably practicable in the circumstances to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks from COVID-19. For example, if close contact with others is unavoidable, you must implement other control measures such as:

  • minimising the number of people within an area at any time. Limit access to the workplace or parts of the workplace to essential workers only
  • staggering start, finish and break times where appropriate
  • moving work tasks to different areas of the workplace or off-site if possible
  • if possible, separating workers into dedicated teams and have them work the same shift or work in a particular area and consider whether these dedicated teams can have access to their own meal areas or break facilities, and
  • ensuring each worker has their own equipment or tools. 

Do I need to provide personal protective equipment to workers who are in close contact with each other? 

You must ensure workers comply with physical distancing requirements where possible. In circumstances where the nature of the task requires workers to be in close contact, you must put control measures in place that minimise the time workers spend with each other or with other people in the workplace. You must also ensure workers are practicing good hygiene. 

If you have a situation where, despite other control measures, workers will be in close contact with each other or with other people for longer than the recommended time (i.e more than 15 minutes face to face cumulative over the course of a week or more than 2 hours in a shared closed space), consider the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Workers must be trained in the proper use of PPE. Be aware of WHS risks that may arise as a result of workers using and wearing PPE. See also our information on PPE .

My workers need to travel in a vehicle together for work purposes. How do they practice physical distancing?

You must reduce the number of workers travelling together in a vehicle for work purposes. You should ensure that only two people are in a 5 seat vehicle – the driver and a worker behind the front passenger seat. Only one worker should be in a single cab vehicle.
These measures may mean:

  • more of your vehicles are on the road at one time 
  • more workers are driving and for longer periods than usual (if driving by themselves). 

Because of this, you should review your procedures and policies for vehicle maintenance and driver safety to ensure they are effective and address all possible WHS risks that arise when workers drive for work purposes. 

If workers are required to travel together for work purposes and the trip is longer than 15 minutes, air conditioning must be set to external airflow rather than to recirculation or windows should be opened for the duration of the trip. 

You must also clean vehicles more frequently, no matter the length of the trip, but at least following each use by workers. See also our information on cleaning.

Do workers need to practice physical distancing when on a lunch break or when travelling to and from work?

Yes. Workers must always comply with any state or territory public health directions or orders. This includes maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres between people. 

In some states and territories there are strict limitations on gatherings in public places. This means that in some circumstances, workers cannot eat lunch together in a park or travel together in a vehicle to and from work. 

You should refer to your state or territory health authority for further information on specific restrictions in place under public health directions or orders in your state or territory.
 

Physical distancing (also referred to as ‘social distancing’) refers to the requirement that people distance themselves from others.  The current advice from the Department of Health is that everyone must keep at least 1.5 metres apart from others (outside of their family unit) where possible. In addition, in a given space, there must be a 4 square metres of space per person where possible.

Why is physical distancing important?

Physical distancing is necessary because the most likely way of catching the virus is by breathing in micro-droplets from another person sneezing, coughing, or exhaling. By ensuring there is 4 square metres of space per person and maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others where possible, you will reduce the likelihood of exposure to micro-droplets of others.

Current health advice is that everyone, including people at workplaces, must implement physical distancing measures wherever possible. 

What physical distancing measures do I need to implement for delivery drivers?

Below are measures to ensure physical distancing is achieved for delivery drivers.

Remember, you must consult with workers and their representatives (e.g. health and safety representatives (HSRs)) on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19, including what control measures to put in place in your workplace. 

Drivers: while making deliveries:

  • You should implement processes for contactless deliveries (including electronic payments and paperwork) and make information about this available to your customers through your website or app so they know what to expect. 
  • You should direct your delivery drivers to:
    • avoid driving with passengers or other people
    • keep at least 1.5 metres distance from other people when dropping off the delivery
    • leave the food or parcel at the door then text or use the relevant app to let the recipient know it is there
  • Carry food and drink in the vehicle to avoid having to go into shops.

Drivers: picking up deliveries or parcels

  • Implement dedicated areas where food or parcels can be left ready for delivery so that drivers do not come in close contact with other staff.
  • Consider providing a dedicated driver waiting area, where possible, with signage and floor markings to ensure waiting drivers maintain physical distancing. 

Drivers and other staff gatherings and training

  • Postpone or cancel non-essential gatherings, meetings or training.
  • If gatherings, meetings or training are essential:
    • use non face-to-face options to conduct – e.g. electronic communication such as tele and video conferencing
    • if a non face-to-face option is not possible, ensure face-to-face time is limited. That is, make sure the gathering, meeting or training goes for no longer than it needs to
    • hold the gathering, meeting or training it in spaces that enable workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart and with 4 square metres of space per person – e.g. outdoors or in large conference rooms
    • limit the number of attendees in a gathering, meeting or training. This may require, for example, multiple training sessions to be held, and
    • ensure adequate ventilation if held indoors.

See also our information on training.  

Store and parcel depot facilities

  • Reduce the number of delivery drivers and other workers utilising common areas at a given time – e.g by staggering meal breaks and start times.
  • Spread out furniture in common areas. If changing the physical layout of the workplace, you must ensure the layout allows for workers to enter, exit and move about the workplace both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable. 
  • Place signage about physical distancing around the workplace. Our website has links to a range of posters and resources to help remind workers and others of the risks of COVID-19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread. These posters can be placed around the workplace and in client-facing work environments (e.g. workplace entrances). Consideration needs to be given to how to communicate with workers and others for who English is not their first language.  
  • Consider providing separate amenities for workers and others in the workplace – for example separate bathroom facilities for workers and visitors/clients.
  • Consider accepted proof of delivery or collection requirements (as applicable). If a pen or other utensil is required for signature you can ask that the pen or utensil is cleaned or sanitised before use. For pens, you may wish to use your own.

On-going review and monitoring

  • If physical distancing measures introduce new health and safety risks (e.g. because they impact communication or mean that less people are doing a task), you need to manage those risks too.
  • Put processes in place to regularly monitor and review the implementation of physical distancing measures to ensure they are being followed and remain effective

How do I make sure there is 4 square metres of space per person? 

To achieve the 4 square metre ‘rule’ you would:

  • calculate the area of the room (e.g length of room in metres x width of room in metres = area of room in square metres), and
  • divide the area of the room by 4.

For example, if you had a room that was 160 square metres in size, you should only allow up to 40 people in the room, to allow each person to have 4 square metres of space. 

How do I make sure there is 1.5 metres between people?

You should consider and make adjustments to the layout of the workplace and your workflows to enable workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart to continue performing their duties. For example, this could be achieved by, spreading out furniture or plant to increase distancing, or considering floor and/or wall markings and signage to identify 1.5 metres distancing requirements.
You should also review tasks and processes that usually require close interaction and identify ways to modify these to increase physical distancing between workers where it is practical and safe to do so. 

Do I need to do both? That is, make sure there is 4 square metres per person and physical distancing of 1.5 metres? 

Yes. You need to do what you can to make sure there is 4 square metres in your workplace per person and keep everyone apart at least 1.5 metres, where possible.

My workers cannot maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres when performing work. Does this mean they cannot perform work?

It will not always be possible for workers and others to keep 1.5 metres apart at all times at the workplace. For example,  workers may have to work closely with each other or others because of the nature of the task, such as: 

  • hairdressers
  • mechanics in a service pit
  • removalists moving furniture, or
  • a plumber and an apprentice working in a small bathroom.

Working in close contact increases the risk of workers being exposed to COVID-19. You must consider whether the work task must be completed or could be rescheduled to a later date. If the task must be completed and your workers will be in close contact, you must undertake a risk assessment to determine what control measures are reasonably practicable in the circumstances to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks from COVID-19. For example, if close contact with others is unavoidable, you must implement other control measures such as:

  • minimising the number of people within an area at any time. Limit access to the workplace or parts of the workplace to essential workers only
  • staggering start, finish and break times where appropriate
  • moving work tasks to different areas of the workplace or off-site if possible
  • if possible, separating workers into dedicated teams and have them work the same shift or work in a particular area and consider whether these dedicated teams can have access to their own meal areas or break facilities, and
  • ensuring each worker has their own equipment or tools. 

Do I need to provide personal protective equipment to workers who are in close contact with each other? 

You must ensure workers comply with physical distancing requirements where possible. In circumstances where the nature of the task requires workers to be in close contact, you must put control measures in place that minimise the time workers spend with each other or with other people in the workplace. You must also ensure workers are practicing good hygiene. 

If you have a situation where, despite other control measures, workers will be in close contact with each other or with other people for longer than the recommended time (i.e more than 15 minutes face to face cumulative over the course of a week or more than 2 hours in a shared closed space), consider the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Workers must be trained in the proper use of PPE. Be aware of WHS risks that may arise as a result of workers using and wearing PPE. See also our information on PPE.

My workers need to travel in a vehicle together for work purposes. How do they practice physical distancing?

You must reduce the number of workers travelling together in a vehicle for work purposes. You should ensure that only two people are in a 5 seat vehicle – the driver and a worker behind the front passenger seat. Only one worker should be in a single cab vehicle.
These measures may mean:

  • more of your vehicles are on the road at one time 
  • more workers are driving and for longer periods than usual (if driving by themselves). 

Because of this, you should review your procedures and policies for vehicle maintenance and driver safety to ensure they are effective and address all possible WHS risks that arise when workers drive for work purposes. 

If workers are required to travel together for work purposes and the trip is longer than 15 minutes, air conditioning must be set to external airflow rather than to recirculation or windows should be opened for the duration of the trip. 

You must also clean vehicles more frequently, no matter the length of the trip, but at least following each use by workers. See also our information on cleaning.

Do workers need to practice physical distancing when on a lunch break or when travelling to and from work?

Yes. Workers must always comply with any state or territory public health directions or orders. This includes maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres between people. 

In some states and territories there are strict limitations on gatherings in public places. This means that in some circumstances, workers cannot eat lunch together in a park or travel together in a vehicle to and from work. 

You should refer to your state or territory health authority for further information on specific restrictions in place under public health directions or orders in your state or territory.

Physical distancing (also referred to as ‘social distancing’) refers to the requirement that people distance themselves from others.  The current advice from the Department of Health is that everyone must keep at least 1.5 metres apart from others (outside of their family unit) where possible. In addition, in a given space, there must be a 4 square metres of space per person where possible.

Why is physical distancing important?

Physical distancing is necessary because the most likely way of catching the virus is by breathing in micro-droplets from another person sneezing, coughing, or exhaling. By ensuring there is 4 square metres of space per person and maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others where possible, you will reduce the likelihood of exposure to micro-droplets of others.

Current health advice is that everyone, including people at workplaces, must implement physical distancing measures wherever possible. For information on the measures your employer should be implementing, see our employer information for your industry.

What if I cannot always maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres?

You may have to work closer than 1.5 metres from co-workers or others (e.g. clients) because of the nature of the task or because it is required for health and safety reasons. Your employer must consult with you and relevant health and safety representatives on how to perform the work task safely, including where maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres is not possible.

Your employer may seek to modify tasks to improve the ability for you to maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres. For example, your employer may ask you to:

  • use electronic paper work where possible
  • leave goods at the door then text or use the relevant app to let the recipient know the goods have been delivered
  • take a photo of the goods onsite as proof of delivery, rather than obtain a signature
  • remain in your vehicle and use contactless methods such as mobile phones to communicate with clients when at their premises wherever possible.

For information on the measures your employer should be implementing, see our employer information for your industry.

When working in close contact with others, you must practise good hygiene by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser (with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the active ingredient).

I need to travel in a vehicle with co-workers for work purposes. How do I practice physical distancing?

If you have to travel in a vehicle with co-workers for work purposes, the number of workers travelling in the one vehicle may need to be reduced. People should sit in the most distant seats. Ideally only two people should be in a 5 seat vehicle – the driver and a worker behind the front passenger seat.

These measures may mean more vehicles are required, and you may find yourself driving alone more than usual and for longer periods of time.

There are many WHS risks associated with driving for work including fatigue. Familiarise yourself with your employer’s driving policies and procedures. They should contain information on how to minimise risks to your health and safety when driving.

Other measures you can take when sharing a work vehicle with others include setting the air‑conditioning to external airflow rather than to recirculation, or having windows open where appropriate. It is also a good idea to buddy up with the same workers to limit your contact with others.

Vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected more frequently, no matter the length of the trip.

You must not travel with unnecessary passengers.

Whatever measures your employer puts in place regarding travelling in vehicles, they must consult with you and relevant health representatives before doing so.

Do I need to practice physical distancing when on a lunch break or when travelling to and from work?

Yes. You must always comply with any State or Territory public health directions or orders. This includes maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres between people in public places and when travelling to and from work.

In some States and Territories there are strict limitations on gatherings in public places. This means that in some circumstances, workers cannot eat lunch together in a park or travel together in a vehicle to and from work.

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