Novel Coronavirus

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NOTE: This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and updates will be provided as information on the virus becomes clearer. All information will be derived from official Government sources.
If I have staff returning from holidays in China or potentially having contact with people who have been in the risk area, what are my obligations to them and the rest of my staff, customers and other people?

  • You as the employer have a legal obligation under WHS legislation to protect your workers from harm and illness
  • Therefore you need to take a risk management approach and put in reasonable controls to ensure the potential for the spread of infection is minimised as far as practical

What precautions does the returning staff need to put in place in the workplace?

  • Advise the employer that they have been in China, whether they have been in or near Wuhan
  • Monitor their own health for any signs or symptoms of illness
  • Practice strict personal hygiene controls including regular hand washing and sanitising, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching mouth, nose and eyes with hands, and disinfecting their workspaces
  • Isolate themselves immediately if any signs of illness appear within 14 days of returning from China (or having contact)
  • Consider wearing a P2 mask and disposable gloves in the workplace

What are some other contingencies that I may need to consider?

  • In order to maintain business continuity but also uphold your legal WHS requirements, you may want to consider having potentially exposed employees work from home or other remote working options
  • Stock up on disinfectant wipes and use them regularly throughout the work area.
  • Increase natural ventilation if possible
  • Increase the cleaning frequency of air conditioning unit filters
  • Identify high risk employees (pregnant women, parents of newborns and infants, those with compromised immune systems, those with heart or lung issues, etc)
  • Consider signage at the entrance of the workplace advising visitors that a worker has recently returned from China

Can I refuse entry to my work premises if I reasonably suspect a person is infected?

  • You would need to have a very good reason or proof that the person is potentially infected to refuse entry

Some of my staff have cold like symptoms or a cough, should I be isolating them?

  • At the current time, it is very unlikely that a person could develop this infection unless they have travelled to an affected area in China in the 14 days before they have become unwell

Have you planned for emergencies and business continuity?
Contact Michelle Pitman, DWS Work Health Safety & Compliance Advisor, on 0401 014 619 or for assistance in developing your business emergency and disaster plans and ensuring your business continuity.
Looking to get your staff certified in Food Safety?
Visit for online courses or if you are interested in a group booking, we can come to your workplace! Simply contact our Operations team on 07 3878 8977 or email operations at
Download the full fact sheet here.

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