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Tree Work And Covid-19

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How Can Businesses Minimise Risks?

The COVID-19 pandemic has in short time impacted operations in Australian workplaces of all types, with industries around the country needing to adapt in the face of the risks posed, and take adequate measures to prevent the spread of infection.

The arboriculture sector is, of course, no different, and businesses need to be aware of the range of actions that can be taken, and also be prepared to take a proactive approach when it comes to adapting these actions to specific business activities.

In this respect, it is important for business owners and managers to keep up to date with the latest advice and guidelines, to adapt workplace activities accordingly and establish open communication in workplaces.

What Actions Can Businesses Take?

The circumstances surrounding individual workplaces and project sites, and the type of work being undertaken, will contribute to determining the types of measures necessary to address the threat and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Working from home has been put forward as an option where possible, however this is simply not possible for many occupations, and businesses are in turn being advised to implement a variety of measures.

Safe Work Australia (SWA)

Advises that in keeping workers safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19, businesses should undertake the following:

  • Physical Distancing

Keeping a distance of at least 1.5 m between people

  • Hand Washing

Encouraging workers to frequently wash their hands, doing so for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, practising good hygiene

  • COVID-19 Symptoms

Be aware of how to spot symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath, making sure workers who are unwell do not come to work

  • Regular Cleaning

Regularly clean and disinfect workplaces

  • Signs and Posters

Reminding workers and others of COVID-19 risks and measures necessary to stop its spread.

In the context of individual arborist operations, it is worthwhile looking at procedures for cleaning vehicles and machinery, wiping used with guidelines, having hand sanitiser on hand, and posting reminders on equipment where appropriate.

Crew management should also be a strong focus, considering how staff interact over the course of daily operations, and making modifications as required, such as limiting the number of staff using particular vehicles and machinery.

Across both large and small teams, openly communicating and consulting with staff is a critical component in establishing and refining this process over time.

Leading the Way

Monitor expert advice Of course, it is important for business owners and managers to regularly access the latest expert advice, keeping tabs on federal, state and local information.

Business owners and managers will need to weigh up their own individual circumstances, proactively exploring the conditions at their workplace, in determining the range of measures that need to be taken, seeking to prevent or minimise the spread of COVID-19.

As a means of supporting these measures, it could also well be worthwhile setting out business policies in writing.

Information on the measure’s businesses can take can be found at the SWA website: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au

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