• Andrew
    321
    In the Covid Risk Assessment thread I reckon we are currently (all things being equal over the next week) in the "Safe Zone"

    So now time to think about a return to work. First thing I do is turn to S5 of the HSW General Risk and Workplace Management regs which say "A PCBU, in managing risks to health and safety, must identify hazards that could give rise to reasonably foreseeable risks to health and safety."

    So I have drilled down into the numbers for my DHB area. I’ve stripped out the confirmed cases due to travel, instead focusing on local risk sources. I’ve also stripped out children and the aged because they won't be coming to my workplace. So, of the confirmed cases, what I am left with is:
    - 8 x 20 – 29 year olds
    - 13 x 30 – 39 year olds
    - 9 x 40 – 49 year olds
    - 7 x 50 – 59 year olds
    - 2 x 60 – 69 year olds

    Of these 39 cases 3 were confirmed before the shutdown so I put them aside. I've decided to focus on an incubation on average of 5 days where there has been 1 new confirmed case in the past 5 days or worse case 24 people in the past 14 days.

    So essentially no one in my region has Covid and who might come to my workplace to spread it. Or if I want to be quite specific, in the whole of my region there are 25 potentially ”hazardous” people out of a population of 600,000.

    Now I realise people will say one of these people could spread to another person who may come to my workplace. But there is no evidence that this is reasonably foreseeable. Didn't happen before shutdwon (other than a few isolated cases) and hasn't happened afterwards.

    And this is confirmed by the 2% community transmission rate.

    But I should perhaps be a bit more thorough. Out of all NZ workplaces there has been only one workplace cluster resulting in 10 confirmed cases.

    So, in my DHB area I reckon I have pretty much zero hazards. And I have a week isolation buffer up my sleeve.

    All in all, hazard free.

    Excellent - back to work we go!!
  • Michael Wilson
    85
    Hello,

    A few things that are foreseeable.
    1. asymptomatic people
    2. people travelling from outside the DHB area
  • Andrew
    321

    Ah yes. Best I put them into my assessment

    asymptomatic people - can't identify what can't be seen (I'll make a note of them - makes on site thermal checking and form filling totally pointless)

    Other neighboring DHB's
    DHB 1 = 1 case in past 14 days (none in past 5 days)
    DHB 2 = 3 cases in past 14 days (1 in past 5 days)
    DHB 3 = 4 cases in past 4 days (none in past 5 days)

    That's the whole island now assessed.

    Even less chance of these or related people coming to my work

    All in all, remain hazard free.

    Excellent - back to work we go!!
  • MattD2
    174
    (Correct me if I am wrong, but) I think you might be misunderstanding the "Community Transmission" metric - my understanding is that if they were able to link a case to another (even if those people didn't even know each other) it was classed as "Contact with known case".

    Can you also explain how you jump from "these are the cases in my rgion" to "so no one in my region will have COVID-19"? iI just don't see the logic in that part.

    And also are you confusing "reasonably foreseeable" with "low probability" - it is reasonably foreseeable that at this time someone who is carrying SARS-CoV-2 may visit your workplace... the likelihood of that happening may be very low though. For which you are right in saying that the management of the risk should be proportional to the risk, that doesn't mean do nothing as there are some very simple, effective and low cost way to manage a low risk, but it also does mean that you wouldn't (shouldn't) be expected to make all your employees wear full hazmat PPE (or even close to it)...
  • Andrew
    321
    Hi Matt
    I haven't delved into the definition of "Community transmission". Whatever it is, at 2% it is obviously very low.

    When I say "none" I don't mean absolute zero . I mean about 25 in say a 1.1 million people (as at yesterday) which is close enough to zero for me.

    (As an aside, about 555,000 Nz'ers carry norovirus a year - and we do absolutely zero about that. And that's a killer)

    I disagree - I think it is quite clearly not reasonably foreseeable that a SARS person would visit my workplace. That's based on a ordinary person with average intelligence (I know - some will question me on that front) or using a "based on my knowledge and experience" in identifying communicable disease' test. At this point I have separated out the foreseeablity of the risk and the foreseability of the consequence (but a quick glance over suggests serious consequence is nil - especially in the context of time lost)

    There is quite simply not enough people around to make the risk foreseeable. Sure if I turbo charge my imagination I might create a scenario where that might be foreseeable. I am of course open to suggestions on how it is foreseeable - but "reasonable" is the base line
  • MattD2
    174
    I think we're pretty much on the same page in theory but just not in the semantics!

    I agree with the point in your last post - just where you are saying "not reasonably foreseeable" I am saying " very very low risk "... but we are ending in the same place really.
  • Chris Anderson
    50
    I think this thread is a clear example of where we need to be aware of our knowledge and training limitations. There are instances when all health and safety professionals need to defer to those with a greater understanding and knowledge, in this case the Ministry of Health and following the advice they have given.
  • Andrew
    321
    We can of course rely on the advice of others - which we would of course expect to be supported by objective factual information. But ultimately it is our responsibility to do what is required under the legislation and the decision rests on our shoulders.We should also always be prepared to question.

    For example take this from Min of health "People who, due to the nature of their job, may be unable to maintain more than 1 metre contact distance from people with potential COVID-19 symptoms – facemasks and gloves are recommended when this contact is likely to occur."

    WHO (who I would suggest is a higher authority, but no expert on my workplace) say "If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection."

    There is a big difference between ';1m contact " and "taking care of".

    Just as well we have an Act where we can each go throughout the required steps and not rely on generic advice.
  • Chris Anderson
    50
    The higher authority for a New Zealand workplace would be the Ministry of Health (The Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, has legal authority in New Zealand, while Tedros Adhanom does not) . They're experts on the particular New Zealand situation so they are the organisation that health and safety professionals should be referring to.

    As health and safety professionals it important not to overreach in our scope and ability.
  • Andrew
    321
    I'm not so sure I would rely on NZ being the Authority. There are higher bodies of knowledge internationally. Our local experts also said, for example, we can expect an exponential growth - didn't happen.

    And at a local level I know my business better than the Min of Health.

    There is of course a thorn in the side of my cunning plan - no matter what I still have to operate under the requirements of the Epidemic Notice.. Other than that I have to refer to the HSWA,
  • Andrew
    321
    Heres some experts Chris.
    On 31 March an Otago University professor says 16,000 could die. Https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/covid-19-14000-could-die-nz-if-control-efforts-fail.

    Its a follow up from an Auckland University professor who said 80,000 could die in NZ. Was never going to happen.

    On 26 March "Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has said it was possible cases could peak in 10 to 12 days and begin to fall from there." Never happened. Peak new cases was the day before on 25 March.

    Https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120604818/new-model-shows-coronavirus-could-kill-80000-kiwis-without-lockdown.

    Should cause us to think about where we get our expert advice from. (And I am not suggesting it is necessarily on these forums - but we should at least be prepared to think and question)
  • MattD2
    174

    I sure the act includes in the definition of reasonably practicable includes what the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about the hazard or risk; and the ways of eliminating or minimising the risk.
    Wouldn't only relying on NZ advice potentially lead you into a situation where you do not know what you ought to reasonably know?

    Also remember that reasonably practicable is based on the unique circumstances of each individual business - it is not a universal truth. The way I read @Andrew's post is an assessment of the real risk to his business and his employees (and other that are affected by their work), and then following the HoC to implement reasonably practicable controls. Is that not the basis of the Health and Safety at Work Act right there?
  • Andrew
    321
    I am interested in , and perhaps a little perplexed by Chris's statement "The higher authority for a New Zealand workplace would be the Ministry of Health" This is an authority which relates to the Health Act Order that has basically closed our premises down and confines us to home. It does not otherwise stop our work..

    I thought our "higher authority" was Worksafe (MBIE) and the HSWA.

    How is it that we seem to have totally put the HSWA aside and seem to be coming up with all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas based on who knows what?

    Just because the Min of Health tells us to do something does not absolve us of our responsibility to manage our workplace under the conditions set out in the HSWA.

    I would go as far as saying as Safety professionals we are being negligent if we just simply roll over and submit to something other than that required by the HSWA
  • Bruce Tollan
    24
    My hypothetical approach is: Make your own considered judgement. We have been in Isolation for 28 Day's and haven't contracted the virus. therefore we are safe for a return to work with our workmates. maintain physical distancing where possible. Strict physical distancing around interactions with others not in our work bubble. Trust the workers to avoid possible exposure outside of work.
  • Aaron Marshall
    54

    You have to realise that New Zealand had a LOT of luck in dealing with this virus, which no-one seems to want to acklnowledge.
  • Andrew
    321

    Aaron
    I don't believe in luck. Karma yes. Luck no.

    Some basic facts.
    - NZ was in its summer. While the northern hemisphere was in its winter "flu season"
    - NZ has a large expanse of water between us an our nearest neighbor, so we don't have people strolling over our borders spreading things.
    - While we think we are a tourist mecca / Business hub we are not. We do not have nearly the number of visitors going through our wee International airports compared with the other major infected cities.
    - we are a country of two major islands which instantly creates some physical distancing across our whole population
    - We may think Auckland is a large city . It isn't. It is sprawling and does not have nearly the population density of other cities where this virus has spread.
    - We have pretty good primary health care services with "free" public health so we do not have a population with underlying health problems that are not being treated.
    - While we have an aging population, it is not yet that old. And most of them do not smoke and thus don't have the underlying respiratory problems.
    - we are not a "close physical contact" culture. We do not get really close to our friends, family and associates.

    That is all "pre-management"

    Once the first significant management step took place mid/late March (closing our borders to people other than Nz'ers), then things really started to improve - but that improvement was off an extremely low base of illness.

    I see my original post was 28 days ago. As expected there have only been 59 new cases and 13 of them are Nz'ers who have arrived in the country. The remaining are related to clusters. All quite foreseeable and nothing to do with luck
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