New Zealand moved to Alert Level 3 on 28 April 2020 and many businesses asked how to prepare for a return to the workplace.

Health and safety planning is needed to ensure that effective COVID-19 controls are in place and that the health and safety of workers, and other people, is not put at risk.
Some key controls to minimise the risk of passing on the COVID-19 virus at work include:

  • supporting people with flu-like symptoms to self-isolate;
  • ensuring separation distances;
  • disinfecting surfaces;
  • maintaining good hygiene, particularly hand hygiene and good cough/sneeze etiquette;
  • keeping records to facilitate contact tracing.

Businesses should have developed a plan for working safely. For those who could not return at Alert Level 3, you should be working on this now. For those who need to wait a bit longer to return to the workplace, you should also start your preparation and planning now so that you can discuss and share the plan with others, such as workers, contractors, and suppliers, before the work starts.

Your plan will serve as a record of how you will minimise the risk of COVID-19 appropriately, and will demonstrate that your business can continue to operate safely. You should review and update your plan on an ongoing basis.

The types of things that you will need to consider range from risks from restarting your business after lockdown, to keeping workers safe from COVID-19, to managing any exposure to COVID-19. Industry guidance should also be incorporated into this.

Once you have developed your plan, you need to ensure that your workers are aware of it so that your planning is effective.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.