Managing COVID-19 risks: A checklist for employers

This checklist is designed as a tool to help employers meet their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and associated regulations regarding risks from COVID-19.


Restrictions apply across Victoria

Depending on your industry your workplace may:

  • be subject to restricted operations or industry specific obligations
  • be subject to COVID-19 vaccination requirements

It is mandatory for every Victorian business with on-site operations to have a COVIDSafe Plan. COVIDSafe plans should be reviewed and updated regularly.

COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria may be updated at any time. You must stay up to date with changes for your industry.

How are my occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations impacted by the restrictions?

There is no change to your obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) as a result of the Pandemic Orders issued by the Victorian Minister for Health.

Preparation of a COVIDSafe Plan forms part of the development of a safe system of work. However, having a COVIDSafe Plan and complying with the Victorian Pandemic Orders does not necessarily mean you have complied with all of your duties under the OHS Act and OHS Regulations.

You must follow any Pandemic Orders that apply to how your business must operate, and ensure that you are meeting your obligations under the OHS Act. Employees must also comply with their duties under the OHS Act.

Checklist background

Employers should use this checklist with WorkSafe's Exposure to coronavirus in workplaces guidance. Employers should also read relevant information and updates from the Department of Health (DH), Business Victoria, the website and other appropriate government departments and industry bodies.

Completion of a COVIDSafe plan forms part of a safe system of work to control the risk of employees and other persons contracting COVID-19 at a workplace, however duty holders also have to meet OHS Act obligations. The information in this checklist and the WorkSafe guidance can help employers identify and implement appropriate controls in their workplace.  

Duty holders must also ensure they continue to undertake the required risk assessments and implement appropriate controls for non-COVID-19-related hazards.

Visit the website for the latest information and requirements relating to COVID-19 in Victoria.

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.

Employer checklist

Check off each action point in the following checklist. If you are unable to check off a point you should develop and implement measures to address the issue.

Employer duties – identify risk

Employers and employees must comply with all Pandemic Orders currently in force.

Information about Pandemic Orders is available on the DH website.

  • Employer is up to date with COVID-19 risk information and monitoring updates from DH, and Business Victoria.
  • Employer has met their obligations under all relevant Pandemic Orders and additional measures have been implemented if required.
  • Employer has identified hazards and assessed, so far as reasonably practicable, the level of risk to the health of employees from exposure to COVID-19 at their workplace and implemented appropriate control measures.
  • The hazard identification and risk assessment process has been undertaken in consultation with employees, including any HSRs, labour hire workers and other representatives, so far as reasonably practicable. Employers should have regular meetings with employees, HSRs and other representatives. Consultation must occur when:
    • identifying hazards and making decisions on risk management plans and response plans
    • providing regular updates to employees, HSRs and other representatives on new information and advice
    • making procedures about monitoring the health of employees, such as confirmation of any positive cases and how positive cases will be contact traced and managed
    • resolving health and safety issues
    • providing information, giving opportunity to provide feedback and taking comments into consideration when making decisions
    • proposing changes to the workplace, plant, substances, other things or conduct of work performed
  • Employer who has labour hire staff onsite is in regular contact with labour hire agency services.
    • An employer (host) must consult with the labour hire agency on occupational health and safety (OHS) matters, including the provision of necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and relevant points of contact of health and safety between the organisations. Information about the responsibilities of labour hire hosts and labour hire agencies is available on the WorkSafe website.
  • Hazard identification has considered employees’ interaction with the general public, for example, retail, public transport, health care and aged care.
  • All identified hazards have been assessed and controls implemented to provide the highest level of protection, as far as reasonably practicable:
    • minimising employees working in close contact with other persons for prolonged periods
    • minimising the use of shared tools
    • cleaning and disinfection of high-touch points and shared spaces
    • supply of PPE
    • supply of personal hygiene supplies – soap, hand sanitiser
    • employee training and awareness of latest COVID-19 information
    • additional cleaning
    • changed work arrangements, for example, staggered shifts and break times
  • Vulnerable employees have been identified and the risks specific to those employees assessed. Vulnerable employees include those who are most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, for example, persons 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions or those with compromised immune systems.


  • Management plan established for COVID-19 covering the following control measures and prevention strategies to prevent transmission within the workplace.

Physical distancing

Maintaining 1.5m distance between employees, customers and other visitors to the premises helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Under Pandemic Orders made by the Victorian Minister for Health, workplaces may be required to comply with particular density quotient rules.

In consultation with employees and independent contractors, employers should develop a plan to ensure physical distancing is maintained. This could include, where reasonably practical, staggering start times and breaks for staff members.

Where a work premises has a publicly accessible space, employers may need to display a sign at each public entry to each such space that includes a statement specifying the maximum number of members of the public that may be present in the space at a single time. That maximum is the number permitted by the density quotient, rounded down to the nearest whole number.

  • Any density quotients are complied with and employees are spaced at least 1.5m apart where practicable. Also consider installing screens or barriers.
    • Rearrange, remove or cordon off furniture in common areas to ensure physical distancing, stagger seating so staff are not facing one another on break.
    • Use signs or posters to reflect the maximum number of people permitted in each area (i.e. 1 person per 2sqm). For example, room size of 10m x 6m = 60sqm. 60sqm ÷ 2sqm = maximum of 30 people. Provide signs in languages other than English where required.
  • Floor markings used to provide minimum physical distancing guides between workstations or areas that are likely to create congregation of staff.
    • Identify areas that require floor marking, such as lifts, kitchen areas, printer collection areas.
  • Where a workplace has a publicly accessible space, an employer may need to display a sign at each entry that specifies the maximum number of members of the public that can be present in the space at a single time.
  • System established that ensures staff members are not working across multiple settings/work sites where applicable.
    • Where required, communicate the requirement for employees not to work across multiple sites, except where unavoidable, for example, healthcare workers.
    • Adjust rosters and develop procedures to ensure employees do not work across multiple sites.
    • If applicable to your industry, a worker who is working across more than one work site for two or more different employers must provide a written declaration to each employer to advise that they are working at more than one premises and must provide details of the other premises to each employer.
    • If applicable to your industry, employers must maintain a record of all workers who have disclosed that they are working across more than one premises.
  • Workstation alignment modified so employees do not face each other where practicable.
    • Identify which workstations need to be modified.
    • Reconfigure workstations so employees do not face one another.
    • Ensure workstations are adequately spaced from each other, including the implementation of shields or barriers where appropriate.
  • Workgroups divided and work rosters and timetables adjusted, where possible, to ensure employee distancing is both physical and time-related.
    • Stagger start and finish times, shifts and break times to reduce use of common areas at the same time.
    • Encourage staff to minimise time on breaks in shared facilities with others.
    • Consider cohorts of employees during shift work. Ensure there is no mixing of staff across different shifts.
  • Meal breaks staggered so there are fewer employees in lunchrooms at one time. For example, limit tables and chairs within lunchrooms.
  • Delivery protocols reviewed and adjusted to limit contact between delivery drivers and employees.
    • Establish contactless delivery or invoicing.
    • Display signs for delivery drivers.
    • Identify designated drop off areas.
    • Provide separate waiting areas and amenities for delivery drivers.

Personal protective equipment

Where face masks are required to be worn or carried under Victorian Pandemic Orders, employers must take reasonable steps to ensure that employees wear or carry a face mask as required while at work.

For more information see the guidance Managing COVID-19 risks: Face masks in workplaces.

  • Reasonable steps taken to ensure all staff wear or carry a face mask, where required by the Victorian Pandemic Orders when working at a work premises, unless a lawful exception applies.
    • Perform a risk assessment to determine the most appropriate face mask, based on task and guidance available.
    • Provide policies and procedures in relation to the use of face masks in the workplace.
    • Provide information, instruction and training in the safe use of face masks within the workplace.
    • Consult with employees and HSRs on how face masks are implemented within the workplace.
  • Respirators provided and fit tested where reasonably practicable to ensure they are effective, for example, disposable P2 respirators that meet the Australian/New Zealand Standard on Respiratory protective devices (AS/NZS 1716:2012) or equivalent. N95 and FFP2 respirators are equivalent to P2 respirators under USA and European standards respectively.

Note: Respirators with exhalation valves do not prevent COVID-19 being breathed out by a wearer who is infected with the virus. This type of respirator may not be effective for source control. Therefore respirators without exhalation valves should be worn in workplaces for the purpose of preventing transmission of the virus from a wearer who is infected with the virus.

The following face masks are suitable for preventing droplet transmission only:

  • P1 disposable respirators
  • surgical masks
    • Note: There are Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved face masks for use in healthcare settings. Face masks are graded as level 1, 2 or 3 based on the level of protection provided, or fluid resistance. All levels are suitable for preventing droplet transmission but Level 1 does not include protection against risk of blood or bodily fluid splash.
  • single-use face masks – refer to DH website
    • Where employers are providing disposable masks for employees, they should, so far as reasonably practicable, provide regular replacement masks, particularly in dirty production environments.
  • cloth masks – refer to DH website
    • Where employers are providing cloth face masks, there needs to be a procedure for laundering the face masks.

Other PPE

  • Addition of glasses/goggles – can also be used to protect the eyes against droplets
  • Gloves
    • Note: Washing hands with soap and water is one of the best defences to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Gloves have other purposes, such as, for example, being required for handling hazardous substances and medical gloves used in health care. If gloves are not used appropriately, a person can transfer contaminants to other objects or their face if they do not replace and dispose of or clean their gloves between tasks. Gloves are not a substitute for the promotion of frequent hand hygiene and the provision of handwash stations. Complacency while wearing gloves can reduce hand hygiene.
  • Gowns
    • for example, surgical gowns in health care

Cleaning and disinfection

Cleaning should be conducted in accordance with the DH information on cleaning and disinfection for workplaces.

  • A system is in place for regular cleaning and disinfection of workplace and meets DH requirements.
    • Increase environmental cleaning, including between changes of rostered shifts.
  • High-touch areas regularly cleaned with disinfectant at least twice daily, including desks, doors and door handles, keyboards, and lifts, including lift buttons and handrails. Where possible, replace high-touch communal surfaces with alternatives.
  • Confirm that effective disinfectants are used as per references – see References to Safe Work Australia and DH - Cleaning and disinfecting to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

Hygiene practices

  • Adequate hand wash and soap facilities are provided for employees and contractors.
  • Alcohol-based hand rub of at least 60% alcohol is provided for employees, contractors and the general public with whom staff are required to interact, for example, retail, health care and aged care.
  • High-touch work surfaces such as desks and tables and objects such as phones and keyboards are wiped and disinfected after each use.
  • Shared equipment, for example, tools, operator controls, desks and phones etc., are cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • Tissues are available, as well as closed bins for disposal.
  • Posters are displayed promoting hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette and reporting when feeling unwell. Posters must be provided in languages other than English, as required.
  • Employees and contractors advised to avoid touching their face (eyes, nose and mouth).
  • Employees instructed not to shake hands or physically embrace.

Training, instruction and information

  • Employees and contractors are informed and kept up to date on new information relating to COVID-19.
  • Employees trained on physical distancing expectations while working and socialising, for example, during lunchbreaks.
    • Develop and educate staff on strategies and work practice changes to maintain physical distancing.
    • Reinforce messaging to staff that physical distancing needs to be maintained during work and during social interactions.
  • Training and information are provided on the correct use, maintenance, where required, and disposal of face masks.
  • Supervision provided to ensure controls are maintained, for example, compliance with physical distancing, use of PPE and Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), maintaining supplies of hand sanitiser etc.
  • Employer has ensured employees, contractors and the general public are following procedures.
  • Information provided in languages other than English, depending on languages spoken by employees.

Record-keeping for contact tracing

Under Pandemic Orders made by the Victorian Minister for Health, workplaces may be required to keep records of attendance to assist with contact tracing.

  • There is a process in place to keep records of persons attending the workplace, in accordance with Victorian Pandemic Orders.
  • There is a process in place to record the schedule and work locations for employees, labour hire staff, external contractors and delivery drivers. This may not be required in small workplaces where it is assumed that everyone present at the workplace is likely to be a close contact. Where possible, consider implementing a contactless system. Recording employee schedules and movements enables tracing of those who have come into contact with a confirmed case. For example the record should include:
    • up-to-date contact details for all staff
    • date and time work was done
    • employees who worked together
    • specific work areas at the workplace
    • any breaks taken, including time and location
    • movement between multiple workplace locations

Screening and illness plan

  • Employees know what to do if someone becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 at the employer's workplace.
  • There is a plan in place for employees to stay at home if feeling unwell.
  • Employees have been asked before they enter the workplace if they are currently subject to any Pandemic Order requirements (such as needing to isolate or quarantine).
  • Employees who have been in contact with confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 have been instructed to follow Department of Health (DH) procedures.
  • There is a process to screen employees/contractors/visitors, for example, questionnaire, phone call or other non-contact methods to limit person-to-person contact.
  • Where temperature testing is performed, employers understand the limitations of testing and persons responsible are trained to undertake temperature testing.
  • employees that have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting their results are told to self-isolate
  • consider testing program of residents/clients in aged care facilities/prisons/mental health facilities and other congregate settings*

*Congregate setting — a setting in which a group of persons reside, meet or gather, either for a limited or extended period of time in close physical proximity.  Examples include prisons, nursing homes, schools and workplaces, including food processing lines and meat and poultry processing facilities that could result in higher risk for COVID-19 transmission.

Confirmation of positive COVID-19 case

In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case at the workplace, Pandemic Orders made by the Victorian Minister for Health may also require employers to take specific response actions.

Following the identification of a confirmed case, employers should ensure appropriate communication to staff, contractors, visitors and customers, including:

  • notification of a confirmed case
  • following DH procedures regarding COVID-19 cases in the workplace
  • informing all employees, including HSRs and other representatives, to be vigilant about the onset of COVID-19 symptoms and to self-isolate if they become unwell
  • notifying workplace contacts

Actions to be undertaken by employers in response to identification of positive cases

A confirmed case is defined as a person who has returned a positive COVID-19 test as per DH guidelines. Employees must disclose to their employer as soon as possible, after they receive notification that they have tested positive for COVID-19 and they attended an indoor space at the workplace in the infectious period, typically 48 hours prior to symptom onset.

  • Employees identified as positive cases are advised to self-isolate and not return to the workplace until they have completed their self-isolation period.
  • Inform and instruct all staff about the onset of COVID-19 symptoms and at symptom onset to self-isolate and be tested.
  • Undertake a risk assessment to inform work site closure and cleaning requirements.
  • Undertake a comprehensive clean of the workplace, in whole or part, based on the risk assessment.
    • Consider a cleaning plan that captures cleaning schedules, who has performed the cleaning, products used and the areas cleaned.

Note: DH has 'Outbreak Squads' which may be deployed to a workplace to oversee cleaning and disinfecting and provide advice on infection control measures. The decision to deploy these squads is made on a case by case basis.

  • Identify workplace close contacts associated with the employee's attendance at work.
  • Notify those close contacts.
  • Follow DH procedures and comply with any further Pandemic Orders as to further closure or cleaning.

Records from the period of 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms in the suspected case that include all rosters and employee details, along with customers, clients, visitors and workplace inspectors will assist in contact tracing following confirmation of a positive case.

WorkSafe Advisory Service

WorkSafe's advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.

1800 136 089 More contact options