NSW boosts inspector numbers in COVID safety crackdown

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 09:45
Industry news
National News

Inspector numbers have been boosted and their powers increased under the NSW Public Health Act 2010 as part of a joint operation between SafeWork NSW, Liquor & Gaming NSW and Fair Trading to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Venues found to be flouting the NSW Government’s new COVID safety measures face fines, and could even be shut down, while new measures imposed on pubs have been extended to casinos, clubs, and bars, as well as all cafes and restaurants.

In addition to Liquor & Gaming NSW inspectors, SafeWork and Fair Trading staff will also be conducting inspections, bringing the total number of inspectors to more than 250.

NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said stricter conditions and increased supervision are crucial to keep the economy in business.

“Businesses must be part of the solution if they want to stay open and look after their communities,” Minister Dominello said.

“Right now if they haven’t downloaded a COVID-19 Safety plan and registered as a COVID Safe Business they are contravening the Public Health Orders and could face a $5000 fine and then closure.”

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said premises where food and drink is consumed pose a higher risk for several key reasons.

“Being indoors for longer periods while eating and drinking, and the potential for mingling are all factors that make COVID more communicable,” said Minister Anderson.

“Add alcohol, later trading hours and venue capacity, and the potential for transmission escalates.

“Having the right measures in place will make sure employees and customers are protected. I urge all workplaces to download a COVID-19 Safety Plan, detail how you will action the measures, and register as COVID safe.”

Liquor & Gaming, SafeWork and Fair Trading inspectors are working in coordination with local council environmental inspectors, Food Authority inspectors, NSW Health and NSW Police, and this includes 143 SafeWork NSW inspectors.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services said the NSW Police would work in lock-step with other agencies to prevent further outbreaks of COVID-19 in NSW.

“NSW is at a tipping point – businesses and individuals alike need to step up to ensure we don’t face a second wave that could put countless lives in jeopardy,” Minister Elliott said.

“Police have been on the frontline since day one, enforcing ministerial directions to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone in NSW, but they need the cooperation and support of the community.

“If you deliberately flout a ministerial direction or go about your day in a way that is not COVID-safe, you are putting the entire community at risk and be assured the authorities will be there to hold you accountable.”

COVID safety breaches can be reported to NSW Police or complaints made online on the NSW Government website.

Inspectors enforcing Public Health Orders can conduct uniformed and undercover inspections and can issue the following penalties:

  • First offence: $5000 fine or relevant penalty for breach of the Public Health Order.
  • Second offence: business will be closed for one week.
  • Third offence (repeated and wilful non-compliance): shutdown for up to one month