120-2020 – Requirement to notify of COVID-19 cases

24 July 2020

Who does this notice affect?

All biosecurity industry participants and food importers who have premises that departmental officers may attend (for inspections, audits, surveillance or other purposes).

What has changed?

Biosecurity industry participants and food importers are being requested to notify the department if any of their staff (or visitors to their premises) test positive for COVID-19. The notification point is the department’s agriccc@agriculture.gov.au inbox.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) works in a range of environments, including those managed and owned by our clients and business partners.

As shared duty holders under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, we are required to work together to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of all our workers. This includes steps to manage the risks of COVID-19.

The department remains committed to delivering our core business and continuing to safeguard Australian agriculture and our environment from the threat of exotic pests and diseases as well as continuing to verify the safety and compliance of imported food during this pandemic. We continue to consider and refine our activities in response to public health measures and impacts, such as community hot-spots and outbreaks. Where practical, we have implemented alternative processes for some activities to ensure this can be achieved with minimal on-site interaction between our people.

We are confident that we have implemented all necessary risk mitigation strategies in our workplaces to protect our people from COVID-19. This includes strict protocols to ensure that the department is promptly informed and responds to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID‑19.

However, we are aware that through a range of circumstances, some of our clients and partners have unfortunately had instances where COVID-19 positive staff members may have been present in the workplace.

For this reason, we will be taking action and requesting your assistance to help us protect both our people and yours, especially where there is a risk that one or more employees has been confirmed or is potentially infected with COVID-19.

In particular:

  • We may seek assurance from you that COVID-19 risks have been mitigated so far as is reasonably practicable prior to and when we arrive at your workplace/s; and
  • We require you to:
    • notify us immediately by email if any of your employees (or any visitor to your premises) returns a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 – please email us at agriccc@agriculture.gov.au making sure to include “COVID NOTIFICATION” in the subject field of the email;
    • ensure that any of your employees who are feeling unwell or are presenting COVID-19 symptoms do not enter our workplaces for any reason; and
    • ensure that this messaging is reiterated and adhered to by all employees and any downstream contractors you may engage to deliver your services.

We will in turn notify you and comply with the requirements outlined above if this applies to any of our employees that access your workplace or may have come into contact with your employees in our workplace.

We look forward to continuing to work with you and your people to continue to support and enable our business in a COVIDSafe manner.

Further information

For further general information about this Industry Advice Notice, please contact SE_RegionalManager@agriculture.gov.au

For urgent information relating to this notice, please email agriccc@agriculture.gov.au making sure to include “COVID NOTIFICATION” in the subject field of the email.

Last reviewed: 30 July 2020
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