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A COVID-19 Perspective on Workplace Occupational Health & Hygiene Management Plans
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A COVID-19 Perspective on Workplace Occupational Health & Hygiene Management Plans

12 May 2020

The current pandemic has highlighted the critical need for workplaces to have developed and implemented an Occupational Health and Hygiene Management Plan (OHHMP) due to the elevated exposure risks and heightened levels of concern regarding COVID-19.

As prescribed within the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, a person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure that no person at the workplace is exposed to any of the workplace hazards in the various categories, such as:

  • Physical hazards (e.g. exposure to noise at a factory)
  • Chemical hazards (e.g. exposure to carbon monoxide emissions from vehicles in a warehouse)
  • Biological hazards (e.g. the current COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Psychosocial (e.g. work-related stress, bullying)
  • Ergonomic

Learn more about the occupational hygiene hazard assessment services offered by Greencap.

 

What is an OHHMP?

An OHHMP provides a structured means of creating a register of the hazards, inclusive of the current COVID-19 pandemic, that may impact the health of workers. It documents the risks from those identified hazards, provides information on the controls that are used to minimise or eliminate the risks and lists the verification and validation methods used to confirm the effectiveness of the implemented controls.

Effectively, an OHHMP is an assurance for the workplace that workers are not at risk of being impacted by the hazards and it demonstrates compliance with applicable WHS legislation.

The risk profiles of the range of potential hazards that may exist in the workplace are identified through the fundamental occupational hygiene principles of anticipation; recognition; evaluation; and subsequently implementing risk management controls followed by confirmation so that the potential exposure to the hazards are reduced or eliminated altogether (see below graphic). Communication of these hazard outcomes to the workforce is also a vital part of this process.

 

What is an OHHMP

 

Learn more about Greencap’s service to provide OHHMPs

 

OHHMP Development Process

OHHMP development and continual management uses the following identification and management processes:

  • Hazard identification
  • Exposure risk assessment
  • Exposure management

 

OHHMP Development Process

 

The exposure management utilises a hierarchy of controls as defined within the SafeWork Australia Code of Practice How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks May 2018 in minimising or eliminating the hazard.

 

Hierarchy of Control

The hierarchy of control that is utilised to minimise or eliminate hazards at workplaces is as per the below graphic:

 

OHHMP Hierarchy of Control

 

Applying Hierarchy of Controls in Managing COVID-19 

The guidance provided by SafeWork Australia on Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws in relation to the impact of COVID-19, states that workers should be protected as far as reasonably practicable from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by: 

  • Implementing working from home arrangements
  • Requiring workers to practice physical distancing
  • Requiring workers to practice good hygiene (e.g., through workplace policies and ensuring access to adequate and well stocked hygiene facilities)
  • Requiring workers to stay home when sick
  • Cleaning the workplace regularly and thoroughly

For full details of the industry-based duties and information visit the Safe Work Australia website.

In addition to the above generic COVID-19 controls, Greencap utilises the following example site-specific controls in assessing workplace compliance in minimising or reducing the COVID-19 health risk.

 

Level Hierarchy Controls
2 Isolation
  • Isolating via working from home; Physical distancing
2 Substitution
  • Phone or video conferencing
2 Engineering Controls
  • Consideration to increase the air change rate in the building
3 Administrative Controls
  • Keeping a check of symptoms including body temperature
  • Amending shift or occupancy patterns and durations
  • Clear protocols for confirmed case or potential exposures inclusive of building employee awareness of how to identify, monitor and report symptoms
  • Establishing designated access and egress to buildings
  • Promoting good personal hygiene via provision of well stocked bathroom facilities, hand sanitiser stations at entries and exits
  • Automatic reminders on computers about hand washing, touching your face, etc.
  • Informative posters to educate workers, customers, and visitors on good handwashing technique
  • Maintaining good workplace cleanliness via identification of high touch surfaces, 
  • Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection
  • Waste stream management to prevent introduction of contamination into workplace
  • Limiting potential for cross-contamination
  • Privacy obligations focussing on the appropriate collection and handling of sensitive employee data
  • Adjusting service provision to maintain physical distancing between staff and customers
  • Establishing designated access and egress to buildings
  • Awareness posters and maximum occupancy rates specific work zones/areas/rooms
3 PPE
  • Provision of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (including Respiratory Protective Equipment), inclusive of training on correct use

 

 

How can Greencap assist?

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greencap has been working closely with clients across a range of industries to help them proactively manage their risk and maintain business continuity within a rapidly changing regulatory landscape. 

Greencap can assist with the development of your general OHHMP.

For workplaces to be compliant with relevant legislative requirements, Greencap’s team of Certified Occupational Hygienists (COH®) and Full Members with the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) together with Health & Safety specialists can develop and manage Occupational Health and Hygiene Management Plans for your business.

Greencap can prepare an OHHMP to provide guidance, gap analysis and reviews of existing systems and processes in the context of COVID-19, particularly with regards to returning to, and maintaining, business operations in a pandemic environment. 

 

 

References