Considering COVID-19 vaccination policies in workplaces to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
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COVID-19 vaccination policies as a control measure
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you and your employees from becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, free and effective.
Under the OHS Act employers must identify whether there is a risk to the health of their employees from exposure to COVID-19 at their workplace.
Where a risk is identified, employers must eliminate the risk, so far as is reasonably practicable. When elimination is not possible, they must reduce the risk so far as reasonably practicable.
Employers need to utilise control measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 according to the hierarchy of controls. Employers may need to implement a number of different measures to reduce the risk, so far as reasonably practicable.
Employers need to check whether there are any Pandemic Orders issued by the Victorian Minister for Health providing for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations in their industry.
Where Pandemic Orders do not make vaccination mandatory in a particular industry, employers should:
Identify hazards and assess, so far as reasonably practicable, the level of risk to the health of employees from exposure to COVID-19 at their workplace and implement appropriate control measures. This includes consulting with employees (see below for further information on the duty to consult)
consider and implement reasonably practicable control measures to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, including:
allowing employees to work from home where it is reasonably practicable to do so
ensuring employees do not attend workplaces if unwell
maintaining adequate ventilation using natural or mechanical ventilation, or a combination of the two
maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others where possible
maintaining regular cleaning and disinfection of the workplace
wearing a face mask
practising good hygiene, including regularly washing hands or using hand sanitiser and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the elbow
screening via rapid antigen testing
requiring vaccination for employees
in considering whether a workplace vaccination policy is a reasonably practicable control measure, read and consider the latest Victorian Government and the Australian Department of Health information about COVID-19 vaccines
if determined that a workplace vaccination policy is a reasonably practicable control measure, employers should consider:
whether employees should be required to have a COVID-19 vaccine to attend the workplace
what level of vaccination employees should have
what exceptions to vaccination should apply
consider other potential obligations associated with the introduction of a workplace vaccination policy, including:
industrial relations obligations (for further information, see Fair Work Ombudsman)
privacy and health obligations
Consult with employees
Employers have a duty to consult with employees, independent contractors and any health and safety representatives (HSRs), so far as is reasonably practicable, on matters related to health or safety that directly affect, or are likely to directly affect them. This includes consultation on identifying hazards or risks and decisions about how to control risks associated with COVID-19.
The consultation should be conducted in accordance with any agreed consultation procedures.