Industry protocols and guidance

Industry protocols and QRC guidance for members during the pandemic period. This includes advice on the management and mitigation the spread of COVID-19 for community engagement and health and safety.

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Industry protocols and QRC guidance for members during the pandemic period. This includes advice on the management and mitigation the spread of COVID-19 for community engagement and health and safety.

QRC would like to take this opportunity to emphasise the importance of implementing best practice health and safety procedures. Industry must do their part to minimise the spread of the virus to remote and vulnerable communities. This is our responsibility as an important part of those communities.

If you have any questions or concerns about industry guidance on COVID-19, please contact the QRC information account on info@qrc.org.au

Health & Safety

QRC urges companies to seriously consider the contents of the CHO’s letter to Minister Lynham to retain support for our industry and the health of our workers.


DNRME advice – Health and Safety compliance

Available for download (to the right) is the latest information released by Resources Safety and Health DNRME in recognition of the difficulties that the resources industry is likely to be experiencing in meeting their safety and health compliance obligations as a result of COVID-19.

DNRME have requested that all resources companies review the attached guidance note, and consider it in conjunction with the Resources Safety and Health Compliance Policy.

A number of QRC member companies have already made submissions to DNRME in response to earlier similar advice on more specific compliance difficulties, for example difficulties in meeting their obligations under the Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme.  DNRME have indicated that two examples of how these difficulties are being managed through a risk-based approach have been well received.  The QRC has attached these deidentified documents in the hope that they might provide some guidance as to the kind of proactive response DNRME might be seeking from companies experiencing difficulties in strictly complying with other statutory requirements as a result of:

  • a lack of, or limited, availability of required services due to the emergency;
  • ensuring social distancing and other protective measures in place to respond the emergency;
  • other matters unique to the COVID-19 emergency.

National protocols and principles

Federal and state peak bodies have put forward a set of industry principles and protocols to the Federal Government in response to COVID-19 (found to the right). These set out a national position for consideration by resource ministers and the National Cabinet as a framework to be initiated nationally across the entire sector.

These protocols have now been considered and adopted by the National Cabinet effective from 27 March 2020.

All mining activities will need to comply with the protocols in order to continue throughout the pandemic period.

The protocols cover:

  • Primary health and safety advice to be referenced in management plans as contained within the National Guidelines;
  • Continued education and communication to staff on the national health guidelines;
  • Access to assistance programs for families and mental health;
  • Testing, employee declarations and alternative arrangements for travel and accommodation; including investigating employee/contractor only commercial flights;
  • Extensive additional controls and procedures for safety at work;
  • Rapid information sharing, isolation and evacuation in the event of an incident;
  • Stringent measure to protect indigenous communities; and that
  • Requirements would also apply to critical suppliers and contractors.

Social distancing

Queensland Health has advised that social distancing is a key way to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes keeping 1.5 metres away from others as much as possible. Companies are taking this requirement seriously, have been taking measures to adhere to ensure workers are social distancing. These measures are outlined in the national protocols, and include:

  • Keep manifests of who is on vehicles/flights, including where people are sitting;
  • Providing additional transport for staff (busses; planes) so that there is a spare seat between passengers;
  • Having online or phone meetings where possible;
  • Sequencing shifts to reduce exposure, for example, continually rostering the same people to work together (including keeping groups sorted into FIFO/DIDO/local workforce); and
  • Ensuring compliance with 1.5 metre distance in common areas, such as dining halls.

Companies are advised that Queensland Police have been conducting spot-checks of dining halls on site to ensure adherence to the social distancing policy.

Isolation for diagnosed cases

If a resources worker contracts the virus, companies need to be aware of the instructions under the self-isolation procedures for diagnosed cases Direction from Queensland Health, particularly in relation to moving the employee.

If a worker is diagnosed with COVID-19 while on site, they must return directly to their camp, home or hotel, and stay there until cleared from self-isolation. Where the diagnosed person is required to travel to get to their home or hotel that travel must be by private vehicle or in a taxi or ride share, and the diagnosed person must wear a protective mask.

The Chief Health Officer has confirmed that a resources worker who is at a work camp and is diagnosed with COVID-19 can self-isolate at the work camp under the Self-Isolation for Diagnosed Cases of COVID-19 Direction.

Although communications so far have only referred to self-isolation at home or in a hotel, the Direction states that self-isolation can be done in ‘a premises that is suitable for the person to reside in’. A work camp is a suitable premises.

Also ensure you are satisfying the screening and other health and hygiene requirements as per your approved Health Plan.

The Queensland Health Pubic Health Unit nearest the staff member should be contacted. They can provide advice on how to address cases that require treatment including hospitalisation.

Contract tracing

If a resources worker contracts the virus, companies will need to work with Queensland Health in order to undertake contract tracing to prevent the infection spreading further. Please see the Queensland Health website for more information.

Queensland Health will speak with the patient and their company (if contracted while on site) to identify anyone who might have had close contact with them during their infectious window. To assist this process, it is recommended that companies keep thorough records of shift movements, including travel to and from site, vehicle manifests, etc.

Close contact means either:

  • Face-to-face contact for a total of 15 minutes over a one-week period. This is intended to capture very close contact, such as that between partners and family members.
  • Enclosed space contact for a total of over two hours over a one-week period. For example, truck cabs would fall under the enclosed space definition.

Workers camp protocol

To assist companies in providing guidance to their workers and camp operators in relation to workers leaving camps, the following is a template which has the approval of the CFMMEU and Isaac Mayor Anne Baker. Companies may wish to vary this template to suit their own requirements and should reinforce that social distance must be maintained at all times.

Residents are to remain in the camp facilities while on their tour with the exceptions of-:

  • Travelling to and from the mine site
  • Personal exercise (jogging or walking)
  • Accessing drive through service facilities
  • Fuelling vehicles
  • Accessing medical treatment

Click here to view an example of the camp protocol template.

Community contact

To assist best practice health and safety procedures please see below guidance for community contact. Please assess the level of risk and potential impact associated with your activities which involve community, indigenous or landholder engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community

QRC and MCA have produced a Communities Checklist to assist with community engagement during the COVID period. The Communities Checklist is a simple, three-page list of prompts to support sites and companies to undertake community engagement during the pandemic – it’s meant to be helpful guidance, not some new ‘rules’. It brings together existing company standards and obligations (including, in many cases, regulatory requirements re: consultation) into tool that can be refined for use.  It is intended to be used in conjunction with forthcoming industry safety and health guidelines and existing remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities guidelines.

Indigenous

To assist members implement best practice indigenous engagement at this time, the industry-agreed national protocols outline stringent measures to be implemented by resource companies to protect indigenous communities. Please see the attached document – Keeping remote Indigenous communities safe which gives guidance on the implementation of the relevant protocols.

If you have any concerns about indigenous or general community engagement during the pandemic period, please contact QRC’s Indigenous and Social Policy Manager, David Allinson.

Landholders

Many member companies are reducing or eliminating contact with landholders to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Companies should mitigate health risks to landholders wherever possible.

For the safety of their staff and safety of all others, proponents should implement mitigation strategies to minimise the likelihood of the identified risks from occurring. This includes following all Public Health Directives and advice issued by the Queensland Chief Health Officer.

To ensure best-practice, prior to entering private land proponents should re-engage with landholders to understand and manage property biosecurity concerns, and are pragmatic and respectful to ensure all individuals remain safe.

If you have concerns about land access, please contact the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Engagement and Compliance Unit through the resource community infoline or QRC’s Assistant Director of Resources Policy, Emma Hansen.

Mental Health

Change and uncertainty foster anxiety and unease. Be aware that employee’s mental health is likely to be affected by the pandemic.

Please stay in regular, close contact with your colleagues and employees. Ensure that employees are aware of any employee assistance programs available.

The QRC mental health and wellbeing toolkit outlines the many resources available for businesses and individuals for fostering and implementing effective systems for a mentally healthy workplace.

Other resources are linked on the right.

Domestic violence

As people spend more time inside their homes, all members of society should be especially aware of the domestic and family violence. Domestic violence victim-survivors face significant risks as the population increasingly shelters indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The QRC Domestic and Family Violence Awareness Toolkit outlines how to increase awareness of domestic violence within your organisation, provide education and promote action. The resource also contains the links to support services such as DV connect and White Ribbon Australia.