Case Study – Cleaning
Marcus is an owner driver who has been continuing to haul freight as an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Marcus knows that he must take care of his own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others at his workplace under the WHS laws.
To protect himself from COVID-19 on the road, Marcus washes his hands whenever he stops on long haul trips or uses alcohol-based hand sanitiser when he finds facilities at a pit stop are inadequate. When working with others to unload freight Marcus is diligent about practising physical distancing, unless he has no choice but to work in close contact with others (e.g. during loading and unloading the rig).
Marcus sometimes subcontracts to another driver to be able to spend more time with family. Before handing over the truck, Marcus does a more thorough all over clean before the change over. He changes all linen in the sleeper and disinfects the high touch surfaces. His co-driver Josh asked about the cloth seats in the cab and since it’s not possible to easily disinfect, Marcus turns to the internet and finds throwover protective seat covers. It’s an easy fix and Josh feels relieved, particularly since his wife has a chronic illness putting her in a higher risk category for the virus.
Marcus notices some of the other drivers have started to wear face masks and disposable gloves, so he decides to check the latest government advice. He learns that his current hygiene, cleaning and physical distancing measures are effective in minimising the transmission of COVID-19. Marcus decides that he and his subcontractors do not need to wear any additional personal protective equipment (PPE).
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.