The COVID-19 pandemic is causing unhealthy, fatigue-inducing sleeping habits in workers, and employers are being urged to take steps to maximise workplace alertness and safety, including monitoring for sleep disorders.
BHP responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing "digital personal protective equipment" to staff, expanding its psychological support services and ensuring its 9,000-plus suppliers applied stringent health and safety standards to their own workforces, it claims in its annual report.
The Victorian Government has been accused of disregarding practical safety advice for its "roadmap" out of COVID-19 restrictions. Under the plan, 100,000 workers could be permitted to return to worksites within three weeks, but many employees will still be required to work from home up to and during the "last step", tentatively scheduled to commence on 23 November.
The COVID-19 pandemic and changes forced on employers have given safety professionals a unique opportunity to redesign work practices to eliminate sources of harm, Australian occupational health experts say. Meanwhile, Victoria has extended its state of disaster for COVID-19.
Employers will be permitted to direct employees to perform duties at home or another place outside of the usual workplace providing that place is safe and appropriate, under a draft model flexibility schedule driven by the risk of further COVID-19 outbreaks.
Australian researchers have called for the long-term use of rigorous occupational hygiene measures and working-from-arrangements to reduce the risk of a resurgence of COVID-19, while paid pandemic leave schemes have been introduced in two more states, providing a financial incentive not to attend work while infectious.
Employers seeking to address COVID-19 safety risks and comply with their WHS duties should ensure they don't create new risks, and should empower mobile workers to refuse to enter sites without adequate pandemic controls, according to new national guidance from Safe Work Australia.
Workers working remotely because of COVID-19 or other reasons are more likely to engage in self-endangering behaviours like working while ill, according to researchers, who say employees need self-management training.
Working from home can conceal, from employers, signs that workers are at risk of domestic and family violence. Managers must take steps to address this work-related issue, a senior employment lawyer says.