Learn how to make a COVID-19 Safety Plan
Business Tasmania partnered with WorkSafe Tasmania to host an online information session to help you navigate the process of developing your COVID-19 Safety Plan.
Update: As part of this information session we had lots of fantastic questions from you, which we have answered with the help of WorkSafe, and published on this page below the video. We would really encourage you to review those questions as they are sure to provide some helpful insights for you too.
Presented by Ken Nolan from WorkSafe Tasmania, Ken walks you through:
- why you need to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan
- where to find checklists, guidelines and plan templates
- tips and tricks to filling in the plan template or add to your existing workplace plan
- where to get help with writing your plan.
Questions and Answers
Should I keep working from home?
Reducing the amount of mixing and movement of people continues to be a strong safeguard against the spread of COVID-19 in Tasmania. Even while Tasmania starts to lift some restrictions, you are encouraged to continue to work from home if it works for you and your employer.
My employer has asked me to return to work – what am I permitted to do?
When you return to work it is important to maintain physical distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene. You should stay home if you are unwell.
What is the two square metre rule, and how do I apply it?
The maximum number of people at a premises is limited by the floor space of the premises, under Stage 3 restrictions (12pm Friday 26 June 2020) as a minimum of two square meters of space is required for each attendee (this includes customers/clients and staff). This is known as the two square metre rule. The maximum number of people permitted at a premises is the smaller number of either: 1) The maximum number of people by reference to the relevant restriction on the number of people that can gather. 2) The maximum number of people for which there is two square metres of space per person. To apply the two square metre rule, measure the length, and the width of the floor space. Multiply the length by the width to calculate the area in square metres, and divide this by two. The final number is the maximum number of people permitted in the premises (up to the maximum gathering size). Where practicable, the business owner or operator, their staff, as well as attendees must maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other people.
We cannot ensure that our staff are 1.5m apart in our small bar and kitchen space. A question on the Small Business Safety Plan asks if you can maintain that distance and if not, what changes you have made. What can we do other than ask staff to not touch each other, wash their hands regularly and not come to work if they are sick?
Where practicable, physical distancing continues to be important to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In your risk assessment consider adding controls such as (but not limited to) maintaining 1.5m distancing where practicable, frequent hand washing with soap and water or use of hand santiser - particularly after coughing or sneezing, if possible reduce use of shared equipment and frequently clean kitchen surfaces.
For an office, are there any guidelines on COVID-19 compliant desk configurations? We have sit stand desk which are each 800 mm wide which face each other and each desk has a 550mm screen between the two desks. This means there are employees facing each other which are 1660mm apart in distance separately by the two 550 mm high screens. In maintaining the 1.5 metre of space and the 2 square metres of per person, would there be any concerns with this configuration?
Where practicable, physical distancing continues to be important to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The desk configuration described appears to comply with the 1.5m and 2sq/m requirement. The use of screens between desks is an additional appropriate control measure for an office environment. Other control measures might include (but not limited to) markings on the floor with tape to define the 1.5m space, providing hand sanitiser for staff or spreading desks further apart.
Are we legally required to enforce maximum numbers of customers in our shop? We're struggling to count people coming in and out of our shop.
You must ensure the number of people in your store does not exceed the maximum number allowed according to the 2sq/m rule (includes staff). Display posters/signs near the entrance indicating the number of customers allowed at any one time. Guidelines for retail businesses are available here.
Do you have to have separate entry and exits for customers in any area of our business?
When working outside does the 1.5m rule apply (even if it's a windy day)?
If sneeze guards/screens are in place does the 1.5m rule still apply?
I run a farm. Farm hands often have to work together and in close contact. How can I apply the 1.5 rule? Is there a time restriction/limit that they can be together?
I work with family members, does the 2sq/m rule still apply?
My remedial massage treatment rooms are less than 2m per person when both a client and therapist are in the room. Are we allowed to continue to operate in this space?
I am a therapist working with children and my consulting rooms wouldn't be big enough for a child, parent and myself to have 2 sqm each. Would I need to apply for an exemption or would I just outline how I would manage the risk?
In regards to the 2m/sq rule, do floating walls count as defining a room?
No. The walls must be solid structures.
I run sewing classes. How do I manage "aisle" space when people need to move within 1.5m of each other? Similar to in restaurants where waiters need to come within 1.5m of customers.
Where there is an aisle or narrow passage space for 'passing' or reduced space between people, where practicable increase the space to allow for 1.5m. However you may still choose to seat students further apart than normal. Short interaction(s) of less than 15 minutes is the guideline. Guidelines for community education businesses are available here.
I run a college. Our classrooms normally have 20 students. Do we need to seat students 1.5m apart?
Schools are exempt from the 1.5m rule. In your COVID-19 Safety Plan, consider including control measures such as (but not limited to) provision of hand sanitiser for staff and students, frequent cleaning of desks and other surfaces. Guidelines for school and education businesses are available here.
My workplace is two stories. Does this allow us to have more visitors to the building, so long as the max. number is adhered to on each level?
The 2sq/m and the 1.5m social distancing rules still apply. Measure each floor and calculate the total number of people you can accommodate for every 2sq/m. Include this detail in your business COVID-19 Safety Plan and the control measures you have in place to ensure the capacity is not exceeded. Some workplaces are exempt from the maximum gatherings numbers, including offices. Check the COVID website for further information about your particular premises.
I’m a hairdresser and beauty therapist, therefore we can’t use the 1.5 rule. Is it a requirement to wear a mask?
Given there is currently no evidence of community transmission in Tasmania, the only workplace where masks are recommended is for health workers who are working closely with those who are suspected or diagnosed as COVID 19 positive. Undertake a risk assessment and consider including control measures in your COVID-19 Safety Plan such as (but not limited to) increased cleaning to maintain hygiene between clients, provide hand sanitiser for clients and ask them to use it (or wash with soap and water) on entry to the business premises. Guidelines for the hair, beauty and other personal service businesses are available here.
We sell jewellery at Salamanca Market. Can customers try on our jewellery?
The Salamanca Market is currently suspended (at time of writing). When Salamanca re-opens follow the guidelines provided by management. Undertake your own risk assessment and implement control measures in your COVID-19 Safety Plan to reduce and manage risks, this may include customers not touching or trying on without sanitising hands first.
Should we leave a disinfectant spray bottle as well as hand sanitizer in each of our accommodation units?
In developing your COVID-19 Safety Plan, you may consider including the provision of disinfectant and/or hand sanitiser (along with other measures) as a control measure to reduce the risk of infection.
How long should we leave a unit empty to air that has had guests staying before we can safely clean?
There is no recommended time. Undertake a risk assessment in your COVID-19 Safety Plan. Consider including control measures such as (but not limited to) wearing PPE (eg. masks, gloves) when cleaning units to protect staff.
I run a small B&B (max 4 guests/2 rooms). How can I sanitise lounge chairs between guests? I have two guest lounges and can ask people to pick one and stick with it but from one day to the next new guests will want to sit down...
There are commercially available aerosol / sprays that could be used for this purpose. In preparing your COVID-19 Safety Plan, assess the risk and control measures you could have in place to reduce the risk. These could include (but not limited to), providing hand sanitiser in your lounge areas and asking guests to either use it or wash their hands with soap and water. There is a register of PPE equipment such as cleaning products available here.
I know nothing about pandemic level cleaning and disinfecting. How do I develop a cleaning and disinfecting procedure for my art gallery?
How do I keep my shop stock clean and discourage customers from touching it?
As part of you COVID-19 Safety Plan, consider including control measures such as (but not limited to) displaying signs to discourage customers from touching stock, providing hand sanitiser for customers to use on entry to your store or training your staff in how to approach customers and ask them not to touch.
If there is no place to display a posters on a wall, if I direct my guests' attention to information in their welcome letter and the guest folder, will that be sufficient?
In your COVID-19 Safety Plan you could include these as control measures (along with other measures) to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. You could encourage guests to review your COVID Safe guidelines and include your guidelines in all your communication methods, eg. on your website, in email communication, in your welcome folder.
Where can I get the "COVID Tick Stickers" to display at my business?
Register for your workplace stickers and posters here.
At our accommodation business, should I remove items such as games, books, DVDs, bibles, compendiums and maps from our rooms?
As part of your COVID Safety Plan, consider the risk and how you could manage the risk. For example, as a control measure you might include (but not limited to) implement a more regular cleaning regime or ask guests to wash/sanitise their hands before using the items.
What is the procedure with guest registrations with pens?
As part of your COVID Safety Plan, consider the risk and how you could manage the risk. As a safety control measure, consider removing pens and implementing an alternative procedure, for example, you could complete the form on the customer's behalf.
If we have staff in the field, Is there a safe ratio for port-a-loo usage? That is, how many toilets do I need for x number of people?
There are no requirements about the number of toilets you need to provide. In your COVID Safety Plan consider including control measures such as (but not limited to) ensuring adequate hand washing facilities are provided and the toilets are regularly cleaned.
My business has a lift. When I apply the 2m/sq rule it can only accommodate 1 person. What happens when for example there is a person in a wheelchair that requires the assistance of another person resulting in the need for 2 people in the lift?
A person with disabilities is able to have a carer or carers with them to manage day to day activities. If the 1 person per 2m2 rule is unable to be applied in this circumstance, consider risk management options. For example, provide hand sanitiser for guests prior to using the lift and regularly clean all surfaces within the lift.
I am a beauty therapist. Is there a health screening questionnaire I can use with my clients?
There is no specific questionnaire available, however these guidelines for hair, beauty and other personal services will be useful.
What is the requirement of a business to notify customers/clients and authorities should I become aware of a COVID case in my business?
Public Health will contact anyone who has had close contact with a COVID positive person and will provide them with information on isolation and testing requirements.
It’s every Tasmanian’s role to comply with the rules to keep Tasmania safe. If you have information or concerns regarding non-compliance with self-isolation requirements or gathering restrictions, please visit this website.
If accommodation providers are providing self check in/out and ask guests to complete a COVID-19 questionnaire before arrival (done via email), how do hosts know if the information is correct? The questionnaire might have been completed a week earlier before symptoms appear and some people might not even have email access while they are travelling. And, how do we monitor current guest health for the safety of cleaning staff?
As a control measure in your COVID-19 Safety Plan, consider displaying signs in your property to alert clients to the risks and encourage hygiene. For your staff safety, undertake a risk assessment as part of your Safety Plan and consider options such as (but not limited to) PPE options (eg. gloves, masks) for cleaning staff. You can download printable signage from Safe Work Australia, and the Tasmanian Government COVID website.
If someone who frequents my business has been diagnosed with COVID-19, are they allowed to come back once they have recovered? And, if so, how long after they have recovered can they come back?
Once a person has received a negative COVID-19 test result they are free to move about the community, provided they continue to maintain the social distancing guidelines.
How do we maintain social distancing in a ute (or other small vehicle)?
The Gatherings rule does not apply to public or private transport. Normal vehicle capacity limits apply, however physical distancing is always encouraged where possible.
If the 2 people reside in the same household, they do not have to abide by the 1.5m distancing rule. Where practical, the 1.5m rule applies. Consider control measures in your COVID-19 Safety Plan such as (but not limited to) use of PPE (eg. mask, gloves), not facing each other when speaking, use of hand sanitiser, sanitising the vehicle after each use. Guidelines for passenger vehicles are available here.
Does the distancing rule apply to a public passenger vehicle?
Travel on public transport is exempt from the current physical distancing requirements and restrictions on gatherings. Encouraged passengers to use common sense, choose a seat away from others and practice good hand and respiratory hygiene. Clean vehicles regularly. Guidelines for passenger vehicles are available here.
The transport industry has a large number of small operators and owner-operators. Many of the aspects in the Small Business safety plan are not relevant. What do you recommend for owner-operators as a Safety Plan?
The COVID-19 Safety Plan templates are a form of risk assessment. Small businesses should use the Small Business Template. Apply that risk assessment to the components of the business that are relevant. Guidelines for small passenger transport businesses are available here.
Restaurants and cafes are open for 1 person per 2sq/m, please elaborate on what this means for my business.
The 2sq/m and the 1.5m social distancing rules apply. Consider including controls in your COVID-19 Safety Plan such as: space tables according to your room capacity to meet the 2sq/m rule (up to 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors), take bookings where possible to allow for contact tracing, maintain high level hygiene practices with regular cleaning of surfaces, provide hand sanitiser on entry and exit for customers. There are guidelines for hospitality businesses here.
Is the 2sq/m rule applicable for an accommodation unit/apartment/cottage?
Yes. But not if the occupants are from the same place of residence (household).
If a group of 10 comes into my restaurant together, but according to the 2m/sq rule the room can only accommodate 6 people, can they dine in?
No. But, if they live in the same residence they can dine together.
How do I manage "aisle" space when people need to move within 1.5m of each other? Like in restaurants where waiters need to come within 1.5m of customers.
Where there is an aisle or narrow passage space for 'passing' or reduced space between people, where practicable increase the space to allow for 1.5m. Short interaction(s) of less than 15 minutes is the guideline.
In a hotel room situation, if 2 cleaners are making a bed together and are closer than 1.5m, is that OK?
Where practicable, physical distancing continues to be important to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Undertake a risk assessment and consider including control measures in your safety plan such as (but not limited to) appropriate PPE for staff (eg. masks, gloves), exposure risk (15 minutes as a guide), instructing staff in how to safely remove and store bedding ready for cleaning.
What signs should accommodation businesses have displayed for guests and employees? Do we need to put signs in our rooms?
In your COVID-19 Safety Plan, consider including control measures to reduce risks such as (but not limited to) signage around your business on hand washing. You can download signs to print and display in your business from Safe Work Australia, and the Tasmanian Government COVID-19 website here.
I run private tours in a 4WD vehicle. Can I take 4 guests of the same family on tour in this vehicle?
Yes. The Gatherings rule does not apply to public or private transport - there are no restrictions on the number of passengers, normal vehicle capacity limits apply. Further, the 1.5m rule does not apply to family members who reside in the same household.
In your COVID-19 Safety Plan consider including control measures for the driver/operator to ensure they maintain social distancing whilst inside and outside the vehicle, these might include (but not limited to) use of PPE (eg. masks, gloves), provision and use of hand sanitiser, asking guests to maintain 1.5m from the driver at all times. Guidelines for the small passenger transport are available here.
How many passengers can I take in an 8 seater van, on one of my tours?
As above, the Gatherings rule does not apply to public or private transport - there are no restrictions on the number of passengers, normal vehicle capacity limits apply.
Is there any framework being developed for Music Concerts/Nightclub venues?
Night clubs are permitted to operate under Stage 3 restrictions, for seated service of alcohol only. Patrons must be seated in premises where alcohol is sold, meaning activities that are not seated (eg pool, dancing, karaoke, darts) are not permitted. Seated activities, such as quiz nights and bingo, are allowed, as long as patrons remain seated for these activities. The gathering and density limits apply.
When available, the guidelines for Artistic Activites will be posted here.
For a club with a licensed bar, do you have to record everyone who visits the club?
When preparing your COVID-19 Safety Plan, where practicable, consider a booking system or ability to capture customer contact details that will enable contact tracing if required. You may also consider encouraging customers to download the COVID Safe app (you could do this by displaying a poster).
When do I need to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place?
All businesses that are reopening due to the relaxing of restrictions should have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place before they reopen. All other workplaces that have continued to operate should consider completing a COVID-19 Safety Plan by Monday 15 June 2020.
Most workplaces that have continued to operate will likely be able to demonstrate that they meet the minimum standards in the measures they have already applied. As always, strict social distancing guidelines apply.
Does a COVID-19 Safety plan need to be approved?
No – the plan does not need to be approved or submitted to Worksafe Tasmania. You need to keep your completed Safety Plan and checklist at your workplace so that if an inspector visits, you can use them to show how you are complying with the minimum standards.
Do penalties apply if I don’t have a COVID-19 Safety Plan?
The Government wants to work with business and industry to manage the ongoing risk of spreading COVID-19 in workplaces.
Fines can be imposed if you have not developed a COVID-19 Safety Plan before 15 June 2020. Penalties may apply if plans are not implemented correctly or if they don’t include measures that adequately control the risks of COVID-19.
Under the Public Health and Emergency Management Acts, there are penalties of up to 100 penalty units ($16,800) or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months for failing to comply with a lawful requirement or direction of an authorised officer.
How do my customers and employees know I have a COVID-19 Safety Plan?
Register online at this link to receive a sticker that indicates you have a COVID-19 Safety Plan. (Note that it’s not essential for you to do this, but it is good to let people know that you have put thought and planning into keeping people safe.)
Regardless of how many people work in the business (including sole traders) who approves my COVID-19 Safety Plan?
COVID-19 Safety Plans are compiled by businesses using a risk assessment methodology and do not need approval. The plan must be kept at the workplace and made available if a workplace inspector visits and requests to see your plan. You must also be able to demonstrate it is being enacted.
What types of businesses need a COVID-19 Safety Plan?
All businesses require a COVID-19 Safety Plan, regardless of what or where the business activity is carried out (eg. home based, contractors, office buildings, retail, accommodation, etc). Sole traders should relate the worker questions to themselves. If you already have a workplace safety plan, you can expand on your current plan to ensure it complies with the new minimum standards. If existing policies/procedures exist in your business refer to those documents in the COVID-19 Safety Plan (cross-reference). Further details are available here.
I'm a sole trader, which COVID-19 Safety Plan template do I use?
Use the small business plan template. The small business plan template is suitable for all businesses with less than 20 employees, including sole traders.
By when do I need to have my COVID-19 Safety Plan completed?
Workplaces that are reopening: you should have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. Workplaces that have continued to operate: you should prepare a COVID-19 Safety Plan by 15 June 2020. Most workplaces that have continued to operate will likely be able to demonstrate they meet the minimum standards in the measures they have already applied.
Can you have an electronic copy of your COVID-19 Safety Plan on your computer with accompanying documents?
Yes - electronic or hard-copy is acceptable. The plan must be kept at the workplace and made available if a workplace inspector visits and requests to see your plan.
Our local council want me to submit my COVID-19 Safety Plan to them.
COVID-19 Safety Plans are compiled by businesses using a risk assessment methodology and do not need approval however several authorities may ask to see your COVID-19 Safety Plan for compliance.
Why do we need to have a COVID Safety Plan? What legal requirement is there for businesses to have such a plan?
The COVID Safe Workplaces Framework supports businesses and workplaces in Tasmania to continue to operate or reopen, which protecting the health and safety of Tasmanians during the COVID 19 Pandemic. Workplaces/businesses are required to demonstrate how they are complying with the minimum standards. Developing a COVID-19 Safety Plan using the templates is the best way to demonstrate compliance with the minimum standards. There are Public Health orders in place which require workplaces to comply with the minimum standards.
Is filling out the COVID-19 Safety Plan template sufficient or do we need to make our own version of the document?
The COVID-19 Safety Plan template is sufficient, it can be found here. You will also need to be able to show any processes or procedures you have put in place to implement your plan. A workplace inspector may check that your plan and procedures are being applied in the workplace.
Is this plan compulsory to fill out if we have been working through COVID 19 and have a memorandum already in place?
Businesses/workplaces are required to demonstrate how they are complying with the Minimum Standards. Developing a COVID Safety Plan is the best way to demonstrate compliance with the Minimum Standards, however if your existing documentation demonstrates this, there is no requirement to use the template. You will also need to be able to show any processes or procedures you have put in place to implement your plan. A workplace inspector may check that your plan and procedures are being applied in the workplace.
If my business is spread across multiple offices, can we have one plan?
Yes, provided the risk assessment process identifies any differences at each location/operation. If so, those differences and the control measures to be implemented must be included for each site.
Does the plan template I use depend on the number of employees in my business or the number of people at my business on any given day?
The size of the business is determined by the number of employees. Small businesses are considered to have less than 20 employees and should use the COVID-19 Safety Plan Small Business Template. Medium business have 20 or more employees and should use the COVID-19 Safety Plan Medium Business Template. Both are available here.
For a family farm, is the home considered part of the worksite?
Do sole traders use the small business template?
I am the sole trader in a massage business. Do I need to have a written cleaning policy? How critical is it to have a written safety plan if I have gone through everything mentally?
You are required to be able to demonstrate how you are complying with the minimum standards. You will also need to be able to show any processes or procedures you have in place to implement your plan.
What research/consultation has taken place with businesses/industry on the real financial impact of additional cleaning and other COVID-19 Safe Workplace measures? Adding additional cleaning costs at a time when clientele is also restricted (2sqm rule and/or closed borders) simply aren't financially achievable.
No specific support is available to account for additional cleaning costs, however a range of stimulus and support is available for businesses. The Premier's Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council (PESRAC) has been established to provide advice to the Government on strategies and initiatives to support the short to medium, and the longer term recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic. PESRAC is made up of individuals from across the business and community sectors with experience and knowledge to advise the Premier on a Roadmap to Recovery.
What roadmap does WorkSafe Tasmania have to roll back COVID-19 regulations to allow businesses to operate at full functionality/capacity? What are the benchmarks that have to be achieved before the State Government repeals the restrictions?
A staged approach of lifting of restrictions is in place for Tasmania. This approach has been developed to help reduce the risk to the community of COVID-19. The changes are gradual, with careful monitoring of each stage to ensure the safeguards are working in reducing the risk of outbreaks and enabling health authorities to respond if needed. The easing of restrictions will continue to be based on Public Health advice and changes will be made depending on Tasmania's circumstances.
What do you do when government buildings such as post offices are not following distancing guidelines, who do you complain to?
It’s every Tasmanian’s role to comply with the rules to keep Tasmania safe. If you have information or concerns regarding non-compliance with self-isolation requirements or gathering restrictions, please visit this page.
I'm very concerned about 'COVID19 prejudice'. I'm concerned about my business being negatively impacted if I contract this disease (or one of my clients) as it's located in a small town. Do you know if the State Government is working towards greater understanding of this disease with regards to the operation of businesses?
Whilst not business specific, there is information on Coronavirus itself on the Tasmanian Government website here.
Do churches have to have a safety plan?
Churches need to demonstrate how they are complying with the Minimum Standards. Developing a COVID Safety plan is the best way to demonstrate compliance with the minimum standards. Guidelines for weddings and religious services are available here.
Are there other specific rules for places of worship where it is a work place as well as a place of worship?
No, a COVID-19 Safety Plan template must be completed and available on request if a workplace inspector visits. Guidelines for weddings and religious services are available here.
My business is a higher education campus. If I have under 20 employees, and have students on campus, which safety plan template do I use?
As your business has less than 20 employees, use the Small Business Plan Template. Students are classed as "Others" in Work Health and Safety Legislation and must be considered in the plan but they are not "Workers". Guidelines for the education sector are available here.
Are there any specific requirements for RTOs (Regional Training Organisations with students)?
There are no specific requirements for an RTO. You will need to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan. Guidelines for the education sector are available here.