Safety alert issued about COVID-19 drive-through testing centres

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.
Sunday, 6 February, 2022 - 12:15
Policy & legislation
National News

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert highlighting the hazards and risks associated with traffic management and work-related violence and aggression at drive-through COVID-19 testing centres.

The alert was issued following an incident in which an employee at a drive-through COVID-19 testing centre was injured while directing vehicles. The incident occurred when the vehicle deviated from the queue and drove over the employee’s foot.

There have also been incidents of violence and aggression reported by employees at COVID-19 testing centres. These include negative and anti-social or harassing behaviour directed towards employees.

The alert said the current increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 is placing strain on drive-through testing centres. There are higher volumes of vehicles moving through the sites and longer waiting times. Employees are at increased risk of being struck by a moving vehicle and of experiencing work-related violence and aggression.

The alert said drive-through COVID-19 testing centres should have traffic management plans in place. The plans should detail:

  • how vehicle traffic is to be directed
  • use of barricades
  • signage
  • safe exit paths (for vehicles and pedestrians), and
  • management of pedestrian and vehicle interaction

The plans should also include a means for persons in vehicles who no longer want to wait in the queue to safely exit.

Employees and health and safety representatives (if any) must be consulted during the development of a traffic management plan. The traffic management plan should be provided to all employees and contractors on site. Other safety measures to reduce the risks associated with traffic management include:

  • Segregate pedestrian and vehicle traffic with barricades and bollards.
  • Drivers to turn their vehicle engine off when stationary, specifically in areas where there is pedestrian/vehicle interaction.
  • Install clear visual signage at key points instructing drivers of the traffic management requirements.