From influenza to COVID-19, infectious diseases can pose a serious risk to workplace operations and its staff members, especially in the colder winter months.
To maintain operations throughout outbreaks, businesses must provide a safe working environment for its employees, contractors and visitors, who may be vulnerable.
As Usher Group HSE Manager, Amanda Pennycook, describes, balancing operations with keeping the team safe during the novel coronavirus outbreak has been challenging, especially due to the varying directions in place for each state.
“COVID-19 takes up a lot of my team’s time,” Amanda says.
“Health and safety are not something we can compromise on – at the end of the day, it is our duty as the employer to provide our employees with a safe and healthy environment.”
Though construction has not experienced business closures like other industries, Amanda’s says a huge contributor to minimising the risk of spreading contagious diseases among workplaces is teamwork.
“The nature of what we are facing stresses the importance of working together in the wake of crises such as these.
“We all have responsibilities, both employers and employees, to ensure we are discharging our duties under any state and federal legislation to keep not only our co-workers but our community safe.”
“We will always encourage our team to stay home if unwell, providing both workers and their families with surgical masks and all sites and offices with hand sanitiser, educational posts and weekly emails to keep them in the loop.”
In fact, we have purchased over 6000 of these surgical masks since the pandemic began!
For businesses, leading by example is imperative.
“We want to be seen as not only doing the right thing, but championing public health and our commitment to it, creating a philosophy of safety rather than a requirement or guideline,” Amanda says.
Due to the volatility of COVID-19 safety plans for each state, businesses must continuously review Public Health directions, ensuring these are communicated amongst staff as quickly as they are released.
The Usher Group also has a range of support systems in place for those experiencing hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic – our Usher Care division provides support and assistance to any worker and their immediate families that need this.
Coming into winter, the impact of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases will only be exacerbated.
Infection can occur through:
- Breathing in airbourne germs, such as through coughs or sneezes
- Touching contaminated objects or eating contaminated food
- Skin-to-skin contact, including the sharing of clothes
- Contact with bodily fluids
To minimise your risk (and others’) of contracting an infectious disease, there are a few key personal hygiene practices which can be put in place:
- Wash your hands regularly
- Cover your wounds
- Wear gloves when necessary
- Don’t share personal items
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth, especially if you suspect you are unwell
In times such as these, it’s important that we all work together to stop the spread and look out for one another.
You can check your eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination on the Australian Government website.