Covid 19: Your legal liabilities at work, are you prepared?

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As an employer, you have legal obligations to take care of the health and safety of your staff, clients and any visitors to your workplace, which includes specific obligations in regard to COVID-19.

Safe Work Australia (https://bit.ly/3jI72HP) have issued guidance stating that you must eliminate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 if reasonably practicable.

If you are not able to eliminate the risk of exposure to COVID-19, you must minimise that risk, as far as is reasonably practicable. This may include requiring workers to practice physical distancing or cleaning the workplace regularly and thoroughly.

You also must ensure that you do not put the health and safety of others, such as your clients, at risk of contracting COVID-19. Measures you may need to take could include meeting clients virtually and working remotely.

Your staff also have a legal obligation to take reasonable care of themselves and not do anything that would affect the health and safety of others at work, for example coming to work when unwell. They must also follow any reasonable health and safety instructions you provide as their employer.

The regulation and enforcement of Work Health and Safety (WHS) Laws (https://bit.ly/2X0QkJX) are undertaken by state based WHS regulators (https://bit.ly/3jKgR8f). As different states enforce different obligations, please check with your relevant regulator to ensure you understand and comply with your obligations.

In Victoria, the government is reporting that a majority of outbreaks are now coming from settings where people are working closely together. To address this risk, an inspection and enforcement blitz will be carried out in workplaces across the state by WorkSafe, Emergency Management Victoria and Victoria Police with a focus on at-risk workplaces.

Safe Work Australia has developed a small business hub (https://bit.ly/2WYBbZP) with tailored guidance for small businesses to help you understand your work health and safety duties and manage risks (https://bit.ly/2WYBns1) arising from COVID-19.

Get in touch with us if you have any questions about your business.

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