Operating Safely at Alert Level 2 - Considerations
Implementing or maintaining infectious disease controls remains vital for the health and safety of workers and other people regardless of the Alert Level.
The GHSL’s general Covid-19 guidance(external link) webpage includes information on Meeting your Health and Safety Obligations and WorkSafe NZ’s website(external link) includes information and guidance on operating safely during Covid-19.
Some additional considerations ahead of your transition to Alert Level 2 are provided below.
Transitioning to Alert Level 2
We recommend that agencies ensure adequate planning and preparation has taken place prior to introducing workers back to the workplace under Alert Level 2.
Firstly, ensure you are familiar with current (new) Alert Level 2 “Delta” Protocols(external link), noting in particular new requirements for face coverings and record keeping. These have been updated to reflect the changing situation in New Zealand, including the presence of the Delta variant of Covid-19.
Public Sector Workforce Guidance for Alert Level 2 is also available on the Te Kawa Mataaho website(external link).
Agencies should conduct their own risk assessments and engage with unions and workers to determine any additional measures that may be required across different work sites and operations.
Prepare your workplace for COVID-19 Alert Level 2
Ensure your workplace is ready for workers to return. This may include checking ventilation and cleaning, and making physical changes to the workplace that are required in order to meet new Alert Level 2 requirements (such as physical distancing, record keeping and hygiene protocols). Check these are in place before allowing workers back into the workplace.
This may include physical layout changes, screens, signage, QR code displays, positioning of hand sanitiser, masks for use, mask disposal bins etc. Ensure you consult, cooperate and coordinate with other PCBUs in shared office environments. See the Government Property Group guidance(external link) for more information about property / workplace requirements.
Engage with contractors and suppliers re additional services and products.
Liaise with suppliers to ensure they can meet your requirements for additional services and products, e.g. additional cleaning services, products (e.g. hand sanitiser, soap, PPE such as masks, disposal bins etc.). See the NZ Government Covid-19 Procurement Update (external link)
Prepare your workers for COVID-19 Alert Level 2
Plan how your agency will support workers to return to the workplace.
Engage with workers and unions to decide who will return to the workplace first, how you will introduce additional people to the workplace safely, over time.
Communicate your plan and provide clear communications and/or induction training to all workers prior to their return to the workplace.
Ensure all workers are provided with information about what to expect when they return to the office, focusing also on additional or new protocols that were not in place under Alert Level 2 previously. Remind workers about the importance of physical distancing, correct use of face coverings(external link), record keeping and other hygiene measures(external link).
Consider how you will support workers who may not yet be ready or able to return to the workplace immediately.
Covid-19 has created uncertainty and some workers are likely to feel worried or anxious about returning to work, or getting to work on public transport. Others including those who are immunocompromised may request longer-term working from home arrangements. Ensure you have procedures in place to support longer term working from home(external link). Ensure managers are equipped to support workers’ wellbeing through this period of change.
Implement new policies and procedures required during COVID-19 Alert Level 2
Implement procedures to support record keeping and contract tracing (external link)
Ensure all work sites have procedures in place to support record keeping and contact tracing. This includes adhering to new requirements that come into effect from 11:59pm Tuesday 7 September that require many businesses, including courts and tribunals, local and central government agencies and social services providers with customer service counters to take steps to ensure people can easily record their visit.
Implement procedures to manage an exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19
Consider additional procedures to support contact tracing, such as requiring staff to use swipe cards when moving around the building. For some workers, services or work sites, this may extend to limiting interactions between different groups of workers, and/or using technology such as proximity cards to monitor and manage contact, so as to limit the number of close contacts.