COVID-19 has not gone away and will remain with us globally for years to come. We are likely to see fluctuations in global and local patterns of infection.
High vaccination rates here in Australia and increased international vaccination coverage, along with baseline measures of staying home when unwell, physical distancing, good hygiene and wearing masks as needed, will all help reduce the risk.
From time to time we can expect other measures to come and go depending on the nature of any new variant and ongoing vaccine protection.
In the long-term, governments expect the virus to become one of several respiratory infections which can be mitigated by effective public health interventions to reduce the risk of infection when outbreaks arise.
For now, COVID-19 remains a threat and we are likely to have periods of less predictable waves of infections to deal with, particularly if new variants emerge or as immunity wanes.
There is a clear expectation from governments that businesses will manage COVID-19 as ongoing WHS and HR matters within their workplaces. As winter sets in, COVIDSafe controls will not only help protect workers from COVID, but also seasonal viruses such as flu and provide productivity benefits from reduced absenteeism.
Employers should, however, at all times be conscious of their particular legal obligations that will apply under the Fair Work Act 2009, respective State and Territory WHS legislation and Workers’ Compensation legislation, enterprise agreements, awards, contracts and policies and should seek further advice where necessary.
Our guide addresses the key health, safety and employment issues winter may bring.