Supporting the arboriculture and vegetation management industries during the Coronavirus
Arboriculture Australia will support and inform our industry as best we can on impacts relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you, your families and businesses will be safe, calm and patient during this time. We remind you that you are not alone, but part of a wider arboriculture community, which must work together and support one another - not just offering help, but knowing when to let others help you.
We will try to keep this page updated with the latest information and links, but please remember that the situation is developing rapidly and you should check official government websites (suggested below).
COVID-19 information and support links
We have provided some tips below for reducing/ preventing spread of COVID-19 within the arboriculture industry. Please remember, these are suggestions and guidelines only, and come from conversations with other tree work businesses rather than being official government advice. Not every tip will be relevant or applicable to every workplace, so don't feel limited to, or restricted by them. Check out the health.gov.au website for more information and feel free to share and encourage ideas for preventative measures with others in our industry.
COVID-19 hygiene and work practices for tree and vegetation work
- Remind staff of the symptoms of COVID-19 and to not come into work if they feel unwell (see health.gov.au)
- Review staff for vulnerability to COVID-19 and prioritise changes accordingly. Staff review may include consideration of age, existing medical conditions, home and social life, their work requirements or physical location in an office. Changes may include reconfiguring office to reduce open plan layout, utilising meeting rooms for vulnerable staff to work in away from other colleagues, limiting access of field officers within office (e.g. limited to foyer only), encouraging work-from-home arrangements
- Keep employee group numbers to a minimum
- Eliminate or reduce face-to-face meetings of any kind and utilise phone, tablets and online communication resources for job scheduling and work communications
- Remind staff they have the right to feel safe at all times. Discuss with staff if work requirements, for example the need to interact with large numbers of people, make them feel unsafe or vulnerable
- Seek legal advice when reviewing or renegotiating any work-related contracts as the specific terms and language you use may be crucial to a positive outcome for your business
- Practice good personal hygiene: wash your hands (for 20 seconds with soap and water) after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, going to the toilet, touching surfaces in public areas and before eating; dispose of tissues after single use; cough and sneeze into your elbow (see health.gov.au for more); and avoid touching your face
- Encourage staff to fully sanitise before going home
- Practice good workplace hygiene, regularly wipe down surfaces using at least 70% alcohol or other disinfectant, remain at a minimum 1.5m apart and remind each other to be patient, kind and caring during this temporary disruption
- Consider and plan what actions you will take if a member of your team/staff is a confirmed COVID-19 (e.g. will you close business temporarily, how/when will you clean and sterilise workplace, how will you communicate with staff?)
- Wipe down handles, keys, steering wheels, gear sticks, machinery switches/handles/levers at appropriate intervals
- Maintain a distance of 1.5m between workers
- Separate crews into teams that remain the same each day so that if a crew is infected, only that crew is shut down. If insurance cover allows, consider letting crews take trucks/ equipment home and meet onsite. Have a designated driver and/or machine operator to reduce communal touching of controls
- Consider staggering the start/finish times of crews so that they do not interact/overlap in the depot/office
- Use only your PPE, do not share PPE and wipe all items down at appropriate intervals
- If using a shared phone, use the speaker option and wipe regularly, and/or if using UHF wipe after each use
- Have hand washing/sanitising facilities for all vehicles
- Have toilet paper available in vehicles in case public toilets have none
- Facilitate work-from-home arrangements where possible
- Wipe down handles, keyboards/mouse, taps, kitchen facilities (e.g. jug and fridge handles), printers and shared stationery items at appropriate intervals
- Increase space between workers to a minimum of 1.5m, this may involve reconfiguration of office and utilising areas such as meeting rooms.
- Open windows to ventilate the area
- Use only your pen, avoid sharing stationery items where possible and wipe down shared items after each use
- Roster staff for lunch breaks to conform to social distancing in lunch room and/or encourage staff to take breaks outside or at their desk (e.g. only one person in kitchenette at a time)
The tips provided above have been sourced by Arboriculture Australia from various Australian publications and websites, as well as provided by industry professionals who have implemented these measures in their own businesses. The protective measures are provided in good faith to assist tree workers in managing the risks of Coronavirus, but may be subject to change. Do not think that by following this advice you will be safe from infection: the safest thing to do is always to self-isolate. Arboriculture Australia is not a medical service and accepts no liability for any financial or health impact experienced by any person following this advice.