COVID-19 vaccines as a control measure
COVID-19 vaccines are one of a range of COVID-19 control measures that employers should consider as part of their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (WHS Act).
Both employers and workers must also follow any Directions issued by SA Health and the South Australian State Coordinator relating to COVID-19 vaccinations.
For businesses where there is no Government directive for vaccination, the COVID-19 vaccine can be considered as one of a broad range of control measure to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in workplaces. Before implementing mandatory vaccinations in their workplace, employers need to follow health and safety laws, such as consulting with workers and HSRs.
Employers must also identify whether there is a risk to the health of their employees from exposure to COVID-19 at their workplace.
Where a risk is identified, employers must eliminate the risk, so far as is reasonably practicable. When elimination is not possible, they must reduce the risk so far as reasonably practicable.
The controls an employer uses will vary depending on the situation, as well as the availability and suitability of controls for each workplace.
Employers need to continue implementing control measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 according to the hierarchy of controls.
Control measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 include:
- physically isolating, for example by allowing employees to work from home where it is reasonably practicable
- creating workplace bubbles to minimise contact between employees, for example keeping employees on different shifts separate by using different entry and exit points
- maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others
- wearing a face mask when required, unless a lawful exception applies
- everyone practising good hygiene by regularly washing their hands or using hand sanitiser
- ensuring employees who feel unwell do not go to work – they should get tested at a nearby testing location and return home immediately.
You must also continue to follow any health directions that apply to how you operate your business.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has information about workplace rights and obligations in relation to mandatory vaccinations.
Also see the SA Health website for information on the COVID-19 vaccines and how they work.