SCA (NSW) is concerned about the growing impact that the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is having in NSW and we are constantly monitoring the evolving situation.
Our key focus is on the impact to the strata community – strata managers, service providers and strata owners come into close contact with a range of people daily increasing their risk of potential exposure to the virus.
Planning and implementing simple precautions can make a big difference. Action now will help protect your employees, your clients, your business and the community.
The novel coronavirus is not an occupational disease in most cases, as it is not typically a hazard associated with the nature of work in the majority of occupations.
However, employers do have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workers and other persons (e.g. customers, members of the public etc), so far as is reasonably practicable. As the presence of an infected person may pose a risk to the health of other workers and persons, employers must take reasonable action to prevent the spread of the disease in the workplace.
To comply with this duty, everyone should monitor and follow the most recent advice of relevant authorities, such as the Australian Department of Health, state and territory health departments, Smart Traveller and the WHO. Doing so will assist employers in assessing the evolving risk of the novel coronavirus spreading in the workplace, and in taking proportionate measures to address that risk.
Preparing for a possible coronavirus pandemic
All organisations should have contingency plans for a possible coronavirus pandemic. To prepare for such events, ensure that relevant policies are in place and updated with the latest advice from authorities.
Work health and safety (WH&S) policies should ensure that employees suffering from infectious diseases, or who present the symptoms of such diseases, can be isolated from the workplace. Such employees may be required to present a medical certificate confirming their fitness for work before being allowed to resume their normal duties.
Where possible and safe to do so, remote working arrangements can be made for employees who cannot attend the workplace. It is accordingly a timely opportunity to review work from home policies to ensure all relevant hazards and risks have been identified and managed appropriately.
All policies should be reviewed and revised considering the advice of relevant authorities. For this purpose, employers should regularly monitor the updates provided by the Department of Health.
All updated policies should then be communicated so everyone can be aware of the behaviours expected of them and of the measures being taken within residential complexes and workplaces in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Safe hygiene practices should be adopted and encouraged to prevent the spread of the disease.
Strata Committee Meetings
We are aware of member businesses introducing precautionary policies to defer any non-essential meetings. This directly relates to strata committee and general meetings held on site or at office venues. Based on best practice proactive advice and preventative policies, we are encouraging our members to assess meetings on a case by case basis with a risk assessment and give consideration to deferring or arranging alternative attendance methods for face to face meetings if there is a risk of contamination.
If meetings do occur, we encourage members to implement preventive measures and precautions to ensure both staff and attendees are not infected. This is a necessary precaution to reduce the risk of virus spread, particularly in circumstances where attendees at meetings may be infected or vulnerable. We also note this is a rapidly escalating issue and it may be appropriate at a time to consider deferring all face to face meetings.
SCA (NSW) has briefed NSW Fair Trading on the potential impacts that may result from deferring meetings. We are also holding ongoing discussions regarding the broader impact on service providers and services to strata schemes.
SCA (NSW) | Education and Events – Business as usual
Drawing directly on current advice and information provided by both Federal and State government authorities, we believe that the risk of spreading or contracting the virus is highest in residential settings and that, as long as all attendees follow strict hygiene practices, attendance at professional work-related events remains low risk subject to implementation of appropriate risk management protocols. SCA (NSW) will therefore continue to deliver all scheduled committee meetings, education and networking events however we will continue to monitor the situation closely and update this advice if necessary.
If you have registered to attend an SCA (NSW) event, please follow all recommended medical guidelines for preventative practices. SCA (NSW) will of course commit to implementing all recommended precautions from the World Health Organisation, Federal and State Health authorities and will encourage all attendees to follow these guidelines. These will be communicated to all attendees prior to and during meetings and events.
How to stay informed
SCA (NSW) has curated a selection of key resources and useful links on an information page on our website to assist you with navigating the evolving situation that we will continue to update as further information comes to hand.