Case Study – Duties under WHS Laws
Alex runs a small domestic cleaning business. The business is getting busier again with new bookings and regulars who paused their service are now wanting to have their homes cleaned again. Alex has been keeping up to date with the latest COVID-19 public health advice but she is unsure about what this means for her work health and safety duties.
Alex locates and reviews Safe Work Australia’s resource kit for COVID-19, including the guidance for providing in house services. She reviews the example scripts and it starts her thinking about the ways she interacts with clients.
Alex has great regulars who she’s worked with for years, but she is still worried that some people might be hesitant or forget to tell her if they’re unwell before her cleaning teams arrive. Alex decides to get on the front foot and put systems in place to keep her workers and clients as safe as possible. Knowing lots of her regulars are actually working from home, she asks all clients to leave a key for the cleaning team so they can enter the home without needing to interact with her workers (even if they’re home). She also suggests owners consider going for a walk while cleaning is underway and gets her workers to text the owners when they’re on their way to the job.
She tells her workers that if they arrive at a home and they believe people there may be unwell or are self-isolating, to not enter the home and to call her straight away. She will then call the client to discuss the situation before any work is done.
To smooth the way for the new arrangements, Alex updates her social media pages, and takes time to discuss health and hygiene protocols with her new clients over the phone when they make a booking. She also sets arrangements out in an email to her existing customer base. She includes headshots of her workers in the material with a banner reading “Let’s keep each other safe” and also takes the opportunity to pass on her bank details for direct deposit so her workers don’t have to handle cash.
Case Study – PPE
Matt and Cherie own and manage a removalist business. Following the latest government advice from the Department of Health, they have put in place a number of measures to protect their staff from the risks of COVID-19. This includes regular cleaning of vehicles, surfaces and equipment that come in contact with customers and their homes, practising good hand hygiene and physical distancing with staff and customers. Matt and Cherie also ask their customers to inform them if any resident is infected or is suspected to have COVID-19 as part of their quoting process prior to taking on the job.
Cherie checked the Australian government’s current health advice on PPE and noted that PPE such as disposable gloves and face masks are not required for in house service workers, provided other measures like physical distancing, cleaning and good hand hygiene measures are in place.
One of their workers asked if she could wear disposable gloves and a face mask that she had purchased during her shift. Cherie and Matt spoke with the worker about her concerns to better understand why she wants to wear this PPE. The workers said she is worried about handling objects which might be contaminated with COVID-19 and close contact with clients. They then considered whether PPE measures are appropriate to minimise the risk of workers being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. After reviewing government advice, they decided that wearing gloves and a mask is unlikely to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during removal work as workers are asked to practice physical distancing, good hand hygiene and the risk of contracting COVID-19 through the surface of moving boxes is very low. However, they understood the worker was anxious and agreed to her using the additional PPE as she could still carry out her work.
Matt and Cherie talked to their workers about using additional PPE while working and encouraged them to talk to them if they have any questions or concerns about their health and safety. They made it clear that workers must familiarise themselves with how to correctly use and dispose of the PPE. They also provided special, sealed bins so that workers could dispose of used PPE and put up posters in the staffroom showing workers how to use the PPE correctly.