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Coronavirus: Protecting workers, protecting business

Industry Best Practice

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that is expected to be in Australia for at least the next 10 months. It is highly contagious and it has been estimated that between 20-50 per cent of the workforce will be affected at any given time. 

Although Agriculture as an essential service is exempt from the tightening of social distancing provisions designed to curb the spread of the virus, as a busy labour-dependent industry it is critical  that industry leads the way in protecting workers’ health. 

Here’s how you can contribute to keeping yourself and your workers safe and healthy: 

Best practice

  • Place posters around the workplace advising of the symptoms of COVID-19, proper hygiene procedures (as per below), and self-isolation information.
  • Manage picking so fruit and packaging is touched as little as possible, and clean all tools daily with disinfectant (e.g. diluted bleach, or 70 per cent ethanol solution). 
  • Provide individual pickers with their own equipment including designated picking trolleys or packing benches
  • Implement set teams of workers and keep them apart at all times, including breaks, transportation and living environments, so that if an infected case is identified it is easier to isolate the impacts. If possible, provide separate toilet facilities or set times for using facilities followed by disinfection. 
  • Cancel face to face meetings and implement a ‘no visitor’ policy. If it is possible, base accommodation and housing around teams to maintain segregation

Basic hygiene

  • Handwashing is essential after coughing, sneezing, eating, toilet use, before handling fresh produce and after smoking. The preferred method is wash hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, or alternatively use hand sanitiser
  • Maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres, sneeze and cough into elbows rather than hands. 
  • It is critical to communicate to staff the need for high levels of personal hygiene on and off the farm. 
  • If you or a member of your family becomes ill, quarantine yourself for 14 days 

A member of my workforce may have COVID-19. What do I do? 

  • If medical attention is required, assist the worker in accessing it, and remind them of the need to self-isolate until a test result is received.
  • Quarantine all the people (whole team) that have been near the affected-worker for 14 days.
  • Immediately disinfect all equipment that the entire team was using including any shared facilities such as lunchrooms and toilets
  • Obtain as many details about the original source person as possible to provide to health authorities with traceability including housing arrangements, travel, previous employer if known, shopping, networks and church
  • Inform APAL via [email protected] and the employee’s labour hire company (if applicable)

For more information on the virus and how it may impact you, check out APAL’s COVID-19 resource page. This will be kept up to date with the latest information on a situation which changes rapidly. 


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