A major source of upcoming work in the Security Industry will involve Hotel Quarantine jobs. Following the outbreaks seen in Melbourne, it is of great importance for all guards to gain as much information as possible regarding COVID-19 to protect themselves, their families, co-workers, those they are tasked to ensure the safety of, as well as the greater South Australian community.
COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that can range from a mild illness to a fatal disease. Data suggests that the recent numbers are highest in the 20-29year old age range. This evidence underlines that it is not just an ‘old person’s disease’ and everyone needs to take it seriously. We have a responsibility to each other to protect ourselves. We do not want to be responsible for the illness or death of another person.
How is COVID-19 spread?
Consensus from the medical community says the most likely way someone will catch the virus is by breathing in micro-droplets a person close to them has released by sneezing, coughing –or just breathing out. A person can, however, also catch it via the hand-to-face pathway: touching a surface where live virus material is present, then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.
- Spread of COVID-19 is highest from people with symptoms
- Spread of COVID-19 before symptoms appear is less common
Symptoms of COVID-19
Common Symptoms may include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Your responsibility as a worker
According to the Work Health and Safety Act 2012, all workers must:
(a) take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety; and
(b) take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons; and
(c) comply, so far as the person is reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction that is given by the person conducting the business or undertaking to allow the person conducting the business or undertaking to comply with this Act.
As a worker, you must take reasonable care of yourself and not do anything that would affect the health and safety of others, this includes not coming to work if you are unwell or have any flu-like symptoms, staying at home and avoiding contact with others.
You must also follow any reasonable health and safety instructions from your employer.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 it is important that you:
- Work safely and observe any new requirements for physical distancing (even if it means performing tasks in a different way to what you are used to)
- Follow instructions
- Use personal protective equipment
- Report any unsafe or unhealthy situations to your supervisor or to your health and safety representative
In return, regardless of how Security workers are engaged, employers, both security providers and the place of work, must work together to ensure the work, health, and safety of all workers. This includes sharing relevant information, consulting, training workers, and implementing all measures that can reasonably be taken to ensure the safety of workers.
An emergency plan sets out the requirements and instructions for workers and occupants in the case of an emergency. It is important that you are familiar with the emergency plan for your workplace/s- remember, plans may have changed because of COVID-19.
Your employer is obligated to undertake a risk assessment to identify and manage the health and safety risks as part of their WHS requirements to all workers. Your employer may consult with you as your knowledge, experience and ideas will assist in identifying risks or hazards as well as implementing control measures.
A risk assessment will:
- Identify the hazards
- Assess the risks
- Control the risks
- Implement control measures
- Review control measures
This will determine the:
- Severity of the risk
- If the current control measures are effective
- Action needed to control the risk
- Urgency related to action
Reducing the risk:
Hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways of stopping the spread of infection.
Hand hygiene refers to any method which effectively removes harmful microorganisms (germs). These include washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. For non-healthcare settings or soiled hands, the most effective way to remove microorganisms is to wash hands using soap and running water.
- Hands should be washed:
- after going to the toilet
- before and after handling food
- after sneezing, coughing, blowing nose
- after caring for someone who is sick
- after handling rubbish
- after smoking.
In addition, any cuts and abrasions on the hands or fingers should be covered with a water-resistant dressing which should be changed as necessary or when the dressing becomes soiled.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Follow organisational procedures for choice and use of PPE. Common PPE includes:
- Eye protection
- Gown if in an appropriate high-risk setting
It is important to apply and use PPE correctly. We often see people wearing masks; however, they have their nose exposed or the mask is not fitted correctly around the face. This reduces the effectiveness of the mask and makes the point of wearing them almost meaningless. The link below leads to a video tutorial released by the World Health Organisation on When and how to use masks:
SA Health also maintain a suite of resources on a range of topics that are relevant to COVID-19. Follow this link to see more on Infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Hand hygiene must be performed when putting on or taking off PPE. Current Australian Guidelines suggest the following PPE Sequence:
Putting on PPE
- Hand hygiene
- Put on Gown
- Put on face Mask as per instructions
- Put on Eye protection
- Put on Gloves
Taking off PPE
- Remove Gloves; dispose of appropriately
- Hand hygiene
- Remove Eye protection- follow cleaning protocols
- Remove Gown: follow cleaning protocols for reusable gowns / dispose of appropriately
- Hand hygiene
- Remove Mask: follow cleaning protocols for reusable masks / dispose of appropriately
- Hand hygiene
Physical distancing remains one of the best safeguards against COVID-19 and is vital to assist in stopping the spread. Remember, if possible, to stay 1.5m apart.
Prevention and Control
People have been deliberately coughing and spitting as a ‘weapon’.
If you come into physical contact with a person or they cough/spit at you:
- As a preventative measure, use PPE as much as practically possible
- Wash hands/face thoroughly asap after coming into contact
- Get tested / follow workplace protocols
Identify your own areas of responsibility for prevention and control. It is up to all of us to take responsibility and consider how our actions, both good and bad can affect us all.
It is important to take the lead to guarantee your own awareness and safety. There are many resources available online that provide good advice for staying safe during these difficult times. Here are a few websites that we recommend:
SA Health – Browse Trending Topics
Safe Work Australia - this link leads to a useful COVID-19 tool that provides information that is specific to Private Security
ASIAL – a compiled a list of COVID-19 information and updates for the security industry
World Health Organisation – W.H.O. are a source of information that is relevant to public health on an international level. This link leads to their COVID-19 information