What is Social Distancing?

Social distancing is the act of limiting contact with others in order to limit or stop the spread of infectious diseases. In encompasses many things and employers and employees all have an obligation to do their utmost to limit the spread of disease in the current environment.

 
 

For an individual it is staying at home as much as possible – this includes working from home where you have the capabilities to.

 

When out in public try to stay at least 1.5m from others where possible

 

Avoid non-essential commitments. New restrictions have been placed on social gatherings, weddings, and more. Further information can be found here.

For the population it is more preventing incoming people from high risk areas, travellers having to quarantine for 2 weeks, reducing access to high risk places – nursing homes, etc. Protecting those at increased risk. This has progressed to reducing sizes of gatherings, stating “Australians should stay at home, unless shopping for essentials, travelling to and from work - where you cannot work from home, going to school and exercising. Keep visitors to your home at a minimum. In outdoor spaces do not congregate in groups.”

How do we practice Social Distancing in the workplace?

For some business and essential services you will be unable to work from home.
Below are recommendations from the Department of Health in maintaining social distancing within the workplace.

Department of Health recommendation:

  • Stay at home if you are sick, or suspect you have been in contact with someone who is sick.
  • Stop shaking hands.
  • Hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call.
  • Enable any and/or all employees to work from home.
  • Make changes to how your business operates to be flexible for those staff who are high risk, such as immunosuppressed, to decrease their risk of exposure.
  • Ensure all employees have adequate access to hand washing facilitates.
  • Promote good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and provide hand sanitisers and tissues for all staff and workers.

For contractors visiting homes:

  • Call ahead of jobs to ensure that no one is sick or unwell.
  • Ask for access to hand washing facilities; and where possible, for surfaces to be worked in, disinfected prior to arrival.
  • Ask that the home/site is adequately ventilated and that household social distancing practices are maintained on your arrival.

For location based workers:

  • Take lunch at your desk or outside rather than in the lunch room.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly.
  • Consider opening windows and adjusting air conditioning for more ventilation.
  • Limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace.
  • Reconsider any business travel plans.
  • Promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts
  • Consider if gatherings can be rescheduled, staggered or cancelled

Find the comprehensive Department of Health guidelines on social distancing here.

If staff do not have any symptoms there is no test that can predict if they will become
unwell or not. It is not possible to issue a ‘medical clearance certificate’.