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Managing COVID-19 in workplaces

9 January 2022: Critically essential workers update

A close contact of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 who performs a critically essential role, can leave quarantine to go to their workplace provided employers and workers meet the requirements for critically essential workers.

As COVID-19 becomes more prevalent in our community, people who have COVID-19 will visit businesses and workplaces.

Our health response will continue to:

If you own or operate a business, you should review your continuity plans and think about ways you can mitigate risks associated with COVID-19 people entering your premises – either staff or patrons.

Preparing for COVID-19 in the workplace

It’s a good idea to plan and prepare for scenarios where people with COVID-19 enter your workplace – both staff and patrons.

Consider if, and how, your business will continue to operate if staff contract COVID-19 or if they need to quarantine as close contacts.

Consider safety measures such as:

  • screening staff, contractors, customers and other visitors to the workplace for COVID-19 symptoms
  • keeping accurate and up-to-date employee timesheets and records of attendance at the workplace, such as through a virtual or physical sign-in
  • making sure customers, contractors and other visitors use the Check In Qld app
  • maintaining up-to-date contact details for employees to help with contact tracing.

Encourage vaccination in the workplace

A vaccinated person has is far less likely to get seriously ill if they contract the virus, and they’re less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others.

In Queensland, there are vaccination mandates in place for some high-risk settings, to protect staff and the community. Read more about vaccination requirements for workers in high risk settings.

Even if you work outside of these settings, you should encourage all staff to get vaccinated to help reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading through your workplace.

This is particularly important for vulnerable people in the workplace, including those with underlying medical conditions or with unvaccinated family members.

Some businesses have already implemented vaccination mandates to protect their staff and customers. Fair Work Australia provides a range of guidance documents for employers seeking national advice on COVID-19 and Australian workplace laws.

If a staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19

Confirmed cases of COVID-19

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 must isolate for seven days from the date they tested positive.

No other staff must quarantine unless they are considered a close contact. Close contact means a person who is a household member or a household-like contact of a diagnosed person. See the definition of a close contact.

If a staff member is diagnosed or informed of their positive test result outside their home, they must travel directly to the premises they will be isolating at by private transport, ambulance or government arranged transport.

Private transport means either:

  • a private vehicle - a diagnosed person may drive themselves or be driven by a close contact; or
  • if they are within 5km of where they will isolate and wear a face mask, they can travel directly there on foot or by privately owned bicycle, scooter, or other personal mobility device (travel is not permitted on any personal mobility devices hired through a shared-fleet scheme such as e-scooter or e-bike sharing schemes, council bike docking schemes).

Contact tracing

If requested by a public health officer, staff must provide:

  • the address they are isolating or quarantining at
  • a contact telephone number, email address and your date of birth
  • if a parent, guardian or responsible adult of a minor diagnosed with COVID-19, provide the minor’s name and date of birth
  • the contact details, including at least a name and telephone number, of any other people who are residing in, or have recently resided in, the premises
  • any other information or documents required by a public health officer.

Workplace cleaning

As soon as you become aware that someone with COVID-19 has attended your workplace, you should perform a clean.

You may need to close temporarily to do so, but most businesses will only need to close for a short time.

Routine cleaning with standard household cleaning products is acceptable. A deep clean is not necessary.

Critical industries and critically essential workers

An employer in a critical industry can identify and create a list of critically essential roles. A close contact who performs a critically essential role is considered a critically essential worker.

Critically essential workers can then leave quarantine to carry out that role if they:

  • have no COVID-19 symptoms
  • are fully vaccinated.

Restrictions on business

Most businesses are required to ensure patrons check in using the Check In Qld app.

Some businesses also need to comply with density restrictions, and use the COVID-safe checklist for restricted businesses.

From 17 December 2021, some businesses may only allow vaccinated people to enter.

You can also opt to use the COVID Safe Management Plan, which is a useful tool to record:

  • details of hand hygiene training and PPE training for staff and contractors
  • physical distancing instructions, including distancing of desks, in lunch rooms and high-traffic areas of the workplace
  • cleaning protocols
  • room ventilation or use of outdoor spaces
  • when face masks should be worn
  • details regarding working from home arrangements
  • details regarding facilitating online purchasing and online client engagement
  • details for contactless deliveries and online paperwork.

See also