With the HSA role now ensuring workplaces are following the Return to Work Safely Protocol (the “Protocol”). In recent weeks, the HSA has outlined the key questions an inspector may ask during a workplace inspection. Here are four key questions that may be asked during a COVID-19 workplace inspection:
- Has a Covid-19 response plan been prepared?
- Has a Covid-19 worker representative been appointed?
- Are adequate Covid-19 control measures in place?
- Have your employees received Covid-19 induction training?
COVID-19 – Response plan
The Protocol states that a COVID-19 Response Plan must be developed or modernized prior to the re-opening of a workplace.
The COVID-19 Response Plan should report risks associated with that workplace and recognize any employees’ individual risk factors and should include a response plan on how to deal with a suspected case of COVID-19 in the workplace. It should also consider implementation of further measures to maintain the 2M social distancing rule and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The inspector will ask employers if the finalised COVID-19 Response Plan was properly communicated to their employees. The COVID-19 Response Plan along with all existing policies and procedures should be updated in accordance with latest public health advice.
The inspector will review the Return to Work forms, to ensure that all employees have completed these prior to re-opening of the workplace.
COVID-19 – Return to work training
The HSA is providing a beneficial checklist for COVID-19 Induction Training for employers to communicate with their employees, which you can find here. It is mandatory that all employees must complete the COVID-19 Induction Training before returning to work.
The inspector will look at whether the employer has covered all aspects of the training. Sign-in sheets, training records or other pieces of evidence of attendance should be produced for the inspector. The inspector may speak with employees during their inspection to establish if they are familiar with the process in the event they are symptomatic at home or at work. The inspector will also speak with the Worker Representative(s).
COVID-19 – Control Measures
The inspector will look for evidence that there are measures within the COVID-19 Response Plan to control the spread of COVID-19 and that they have been applied around the workplace. They will walk around the workplace and check for safety signs and posters, ensure that the 2M social distance rule is been followed by employees and others who visit the workplace, hand sanitizing amenities are available at entrance and exit points, and toilets and wash facilitates are available.
The inspector will also review the workplace plan if there was a suspected COVID-19 case by potentially asking:
- Is contact tracing in place? How do you know who is in the workplace today?
- If a contractor came on site, do you have measures in place on how you might track their whereabouts within the workplace?
- Is there a designated isolation room available and if not, what provisions are in place to minimise contact as much as possible?
- What arrangements are in place to minimise contact as much as possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19
COVID-19 – Worker Representative
The inspector will ask to speak with the Covid-19 worker representative and enquire about their training and understanding of their role. They may also ask the following:
- Can employees consult with you or ask you questions about COVID-19?
- Are you there as a help to the employer to comply with the responsibilities under the Protocol?
As employers around the world experiment with bringing their employees back to offices, the leadership must act now to ensure that when they return, workplaces are both productive and safe. With the future remaining unpredictable during COVID-19, organisations must plan for multiple scenarios and time horizons. They should also plan for the possibility of multiple waves of the pandemic and its continuing global – and uneven – footprint. It is important to keep up to date on revised government advice in response to further loosening or tightening of restrictions.