WorkSafe Victoria has issued a warning to employers to put health and safety, including COVID-19 safety, ahead of businesses reopening.
The Agency said its inspectors would be out in force to ensure employers were doing everything they could to protect their workers.
“This includes completing housekeeping before reopening to ensure a workplace is safe, training and instructing staff on how to complete tasks and use equipment safely, and ensuring equipment and machinery is restarted in line with manufacturer specifications,” WorkSafe Victoria said.
“Employers must also provide adequate supervision and instruction to all staff where work practices have changed and for any new staff that might be unfamiliar with the workplace,” it said.
WorkSafe Victoria said that all its inspections included an assessment of COVID-19 preparedness to ensure businesses had social distancing, good hygiene practices and a COVID-safe work plan.
Executive Director of Health and Safety with WorkSafe, Julie Nielsen said employers must remember all their health and safety obligations as businesses reopened.
“In the excitement to reopen and get back on the job it is important that employers seriously take stock of health and safety risks in their business,” Ms Nielsen said.
“Many businesses have been closed for a long period, but that is no excuse for failing to protect workers from being injured or harmed while on the job,” she said.
“Since the pandemic started, WorkSafe inspectors have made more than 15,000 workplace visits and enquiries to ensure COVID-19 compliance and issued more than 460 notices for COVID-19 related health and safety failures.”
Ms Nielsen said common issues were workers not working from home where possible; inadequate personal protective equipment; failing to enforce social distancing; poor hygiene controls; lack of health screening; and not having procedures for when an employee tested positive to the virus.
She said employers who failed to protect their workers and the public would face tough penalties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.