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Minimising business impacts caused by COVID-19

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What you can do to protect your employees and customers

See Safe Work Australia's website for COVID-19 vaccination information for industry

Businesses can take practical steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading between staff and to the general public. To minimise the transmission of COVID-19 and staff absenteeism, your practices and procedures should include:

  • good personal hygiene
  • effective cleaning and sanitation
  • social distancing between employees (at least 1.5m)
  • notification of staff illness.

What you can do:

  • Continue to reinforce good personal hygiene practices.
  • Encourage staff to wash their hands frequently throughout the day and have an adequate supply of soap and paper towel at hand wash stations.
  • Continue to practise good cleaning and sanitation of equipment and surfaces in the workplace, paying particular attention to touch points such as door handles touchscreens and light switches, and high traffic areas like lunchrooms.
  • Continue to encourage social distancing of at least 1.5m. This includes team meetings, workstations, production lines, picking rotations, smoking areas, lunch, break and change rooms.
  • Review shift arrangements and limit opportunities for large gatherings in the workplace, for example lunchrooms, change rooms, car parks, and so on.
  • Divide staff into teams and limit interaction between these teams, for example increase time between shifts.
  • Encourage phone or videoconferencing instead of face-to-face meetings.
  • Know the symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath and ensure employees stay home if they have any symptoms.
  • Exclude sick people from the workplace.
  • Ask employees on a daily basis if they have any flu-like symptoms.

What to do if staff have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19

Information for Australian businesses on what to do if a worker has COVID-19 can be found on the Safe Work Australia website and from the Australian Department of Health

Cleaning and disinfecting 

Areas that a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 may have contaminated should be cleaned and disinfected. Health and hygiene responsibilities for food businesses and handlers have always required that all practicable measures are taken to prevent contamination of the food and processing environment.

For advice on general cleaning and sanitising to prevent harmful microorganisms or other things contaminating food and making it unsafe to eat, see our Safe Food Australia guide and food safety InfoBites.

A worker is awaiting the outcome of a test for COVID-19. Should they be excluded from work?

Any worker waiting for the outcome of a test for COVID-19 should be excluded from the workplace and follow the advice of their doctor or public health authority. The timing of future return to work will depend on their individual circumstances. For more information for employers regarding COVID-19, see the Department of Health website.

COVID-19 regulatory compliance and global supply issues

Food regulators are aware that unexpected global and national events may interrupt the supply of inputs to food and grocery manufacture and supply.

If you are experiencing interruptions to supply as a result of COVID-19 contact your home jurisdiction for advice.

The home jurisdiction is the state or territory in which your food business is based, or in the case of a national chain, where the head office is located.

Businesses should use the Pro forma for referral of issues to the food regulator (Word 93 KB) and email it to their home jurisdiction.

More information

Some food regulatory agencies have detailed advice for specific food business sectors on how to minimise workforce impacts.

Your peak industry body may also have advice specific for your industry.

Read more about COVID-19 information for work places, including vaccination information for industry on the Safe Work Australia website.

The Australian Hotels Association Western Australia run their own COVID-19 Hygiene courses.

The Northern Territory government has a range of free hospitality courses on offer. Visit the NT gov website for more information. 

Read more topics on COVID-19.

Page last updated 11 December 2023