In recent news, NSW Police have announced that they have referred the case of the airport transport driver involved in the recent Sydney Covid-19 outbreak to SafeWork NSW. This referral is intended to allow SafeWork NSW to investigate whether the driver and the business for which he worked have complied with work health and safety legislation.
In the regular daily Covid-19 press conferences on 24 June 2021, Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police Gary Worboys announced the referral to SafeWork NSW. He stated that this investigation was in addition to investigations regarding alleged breaches of public health orders which applied. It is important to remember that there might be several layers of regulation which apply to managing the risks to health and safety at work.
The specific details of SafeWork NSW’s investigation are not yet known. What is known is that consideration is being given to whether the relevant business had work practices in place which were designed to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19, which was a known risk in their particularly vulnerable line of work.
It is important to note that, while this is new ground, it is now becoming apparent that relevant authorities are treating the risk of transmitting Covid-19 as a risk which is captured by work health and safety legislation. All businesses should put in place steps to reduce the risk of transmission not only to their workers, but also to others who attend their workplaces. The steps that need to be taken will depend on the nature of the industry and work performed.
As NSW works through another outbreak of Covid-19, businesses should consider revisiting some of the measures that were put in place during earlier outbreaks, particularly those that were relaxed as the situation appeared to improve. It will also be important to keep a keen eye on the latest public health guidance from official Government sources.