Workplaces fall short with social distancing, PPE and cleaning protocols

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Tuesday, 28 April, 2020 - 11:30
Industry news
National News

One in five workers are reporting that they do not have appropriate social distancing protocols in the workplace, according to a recent survey from the ACTU.

It found that young workers and those on the lowest incomes are also the most likely to report that their workplaces have not implemented proper social distancing – 29 per cent of 18-35 year-olds and 47 per cent of those earning less than $15,600.

In addition, 43 per cent of Australian workers who need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep them safe from COVID-19 in their workplace do not have it.

The biggest shortfalls in PPE are for workers on fixed-term contracts (63 per cent) and casuals.

“Employers always have a responsibility to provide safe work for working people and applying the most effective controls possible to prevent workers contracting COVID-19,” said ACTU assistant secretary Liam O’Brien.

“This crisis is again highlighting gaps in the workplace safety arrangements in many businesses.

“Social distancing, PPE and cleaning protocols are not just essential in our health care system, every workplace needs to ensure that workers are safe and have access to every possible safety strategy.”

The survey found that a further 58 per cent of casual workers who have been in their job for less than 12 months do not have the PPE they need, and those with more than 12 months in their job fare only slightly better – 51 per cent of those workers are missing equipment.

Insecure workers are also more likely to not have proper cleaning protocols in their workplace.

The survey found this is a problem for 35 per cent of casuals in their job for less than a year and 33 per cent of gig economy workers.

“Casuals and contract workers are even less likely to have the protective equipment they need as well as being less likely to have social distancing protocols which shows how insecure work makes it harder for people to speak up in the workplace,” said O’Brien.