Use the next week to plan how your extractive site will prepare for any change in COVID-19 status. That’s the advice from Aggregate and Quarry Association (AQA) CEO Wayne Scott, who also leads the extractive sectors health and safety organisation, MinEx.
Speaking after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined what any move from Level 4 to Level 3 will entail, Wayne Scott says with it looking likely next Monday’s Cabinet will confirm a shift to Level 3 from the following Thursday, quarries and mines need to use the time to plan their reopening.
“We are not yet out of the woods with this virus and Government has strict requirements for those who are able to resume work, similar to those who’ve continued working,” he says. “As the PM says, it will be a shift from Essential to Safe businesses.”
Wayne Scott says all sites will need a COVID-19 management plan. This will protect the health and safety of everyone on site from the spread of COVID-19. It will apply to employees, contractors and their employees, visitors, suppliers and customers.
“A COVID Controller will be required for each site and that person needs to do a risk assessment to identify COVID-19 hazards and responses. They are responsible for ventilation and disinfection, distribution of personal protective equipment, communication and training. It is also important to ensure changes to the site are in place such as signs, secure offices, extra sanitary provisions, adequate provision of PPE etc. prior to re-opening your site.”
Workers will need to be rostered to return to work at different times to help manage social distancing of 2 metres away from other people including in lunchrooms and offices. Workers or workmates, contractors and visitors will be required to complete a health status questionnaire prior to starting work on each shift.
He also points to the WorkSafe assessment tool being available on its website which allows extractive sites to determine if their COVID-19 management plans are adequate.
“All workers have to be trained about your site’s COVID Management Plan and there will be workplace inspections to ensure it’s being followed effectively. I’d trust most in our sector will do the right thing so we can nail this virus.
Wayne Scott has developed a template available on request to AQA/MinEx members to help them prepare a plan.
“If anyone needs assistance, they can call us,” he says. Wayne Scott has a reminder that as sites re-open, COVID-19 is not the only health & safety risk. “Just because we are focused on beating a pandemic doesn’t mean all the other risks disappear. We all have to be conscious that the usual array of risks such as those presented by slips, trips, falls, vehicle and machinery accidents, very much remain.
“In fact, our risk profile will very likely increase because of the demands of COVID-19. I strongly advise site managers and staff to re-start slowly and be very aware that our new risk doesn’t displace those that hurt and maim people.”