• Peter Bateman
    228
    Yesterday it was announced that workers in the Health and Education sectors would, after a certain date, be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

    In effect, allowing for a handful of medical exemptions, this is a no jab, no job policy.

    How likely is this announcement to change the conversation at your work?
  • Steve H
    220
    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/my-body-my-choice-not-in-this-case

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/vaccinations-and-the-workplace

    In finding that the dismissal was justified, the authority rejected the applicant’s argument that their stance on vaccination “does not impact any other person in the workplace”.

    The authority held that this was unsustainable given that every employee has an obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act to take “reasonable care that his or her acts, or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of others”.
    Susan Hornsby-Geluk
  • E Baxter
    26
    This announcement brings clarity for these industries and will save time.
  • Aaron Marshall
    77
    It's caused a whole lot of confusion in education at least. Mainly due to the fact that there was no additional information available beyond "after X date it will be compulsory".

    I'm on the BoT for our school, and we need to try to sort out what we're going to do, but have not been given enough information to act on (like, exactly who does it affect, cleaners, who don't come into contact with students? How about any contractors who come onto site?)

    While I agree with the stance, it was only really a half-announcement.
  • Dianne Campton
    69
    I agree with E Baxter. Working at a school currently, there has been a lot of uncertainty, scare mongering and just plain misinformation being spread about.
    Vaccinations are a good start to providing protection to our students. It is only one of a range of protections available.
    It will be difficult to manage those who are not fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022 and clear direction from government on how this is going to work will be needed. It is all well saying those not fully vaccinated must have weekly testing. It is quite another trying to implement that in any sustainable manner.
    Will schools be able to do instant testing with instant results? Will staff be required to go to a testing station every week and wait until they get a negative test which may be a couple of day?
    What legal stance to schools have to refuse to permit staff on site without producing a negative test?
    What about the employment issue - do they get paid for the days they cannot get on site because they are waiting for results?
    More questions than answers have been provided by the Government to date.
    We can't wait for government to tell us how to answer these questions - schools need to start figuring out how to answer and manage these themselves.
    I'm currently working through this minefield now so if you want help please reach out - happy to assist.
  • Craig Marriott
    203
    I feel for those of you working through this. Just to add to the pain (sorry), don't forget that, if the UK experience is anything to go by, by the time school starts again in February, the first tranche of people to receive the vaccine will start needing their booster shots. That is a whole other level of tracking and confirmation required which will only get more complex if and when different vaccines are approved that have different booster requirements.
  • E Baxter
    26
    @diannecampton
    @aaronmarshall
    Anyone working in healthcare or education that is not fully vaccinated after 1 Dec & 1 Jan will not longer be employed. It won't be difficult to manage, its the law. Some people will have a very serious decision to make, if they don't get vaccinated they will not only not have a job but they will end their career. Given that lots of new contracts in other industries will require vaccination getting a new job somewhere else may not be easy.
    With regard to the query will support staff like cleaners, contractors need to be vaccinated. I work in healthcare and yes all working on site will be required to be fully vaccinated to work on site. My employer is now requiring a copy of the official MOH letter, a vaccination card is not enough. More detail & information is to be released from 18 Oct so that should tidy up the loose ends re testing etc. Agree the boosters will add another layer of complication re proof
  • Steve H
    220


    Anyone responsible for teachers H&S/School Pupils, might want to advise teachers about webinars NanoGirl is hosting to answer their questions about Pfizzer's Vaccine and its safety in light of the Government's mandate that teachers get jabbed Q&A For Educators
  • Robb
    35
    Anyone working in healthcare or education that is not fully vaccinated after 1 Dec & 1 Jan will not longer be employed. It won't be difficult to manage, its the law.E Baxter

    It will be the law - as of today, right now, it is not the law. Please be careful with the words we use.
    We, as H&S professionals and businesses, will be able to figure out what to do once the government sets the mandate in legislation.
  • Sarah Foster
    0
    I have a client who as a contractor has now been required to "show evidence" of staff being fully vaccinated in order to be on site.
    My question is - should the client be collating all their employees proof of vaccination information, or is this a privacy issue and therefore the individual worker should provide that personal medical information themselves or give permission to the boss to pass it on?
  • Aaron Marshall
    77
    Anyone working in healthcare or education that is not fully vaccinated after 1 Dec & 1 Jan will not longer be employed. It won't be difficult to manage, its the law.E Baxter

    If only it were that simple...

    Parents helping out for an hour at school? BoT members? School field trips/camps?

    And as Sarah has pointed out, employers are not allowed to ask for vaccination status, or discriminate on health status.

    As I said earlier, I agree with this in principle, however, there just isn't enough information being provided to give anyone any assurance.
  • E Baxter
    26
    Good point Robb, not law yet (but it will be). To me its definitely a positive step and has helped my organisation with planning & clarity going forward.
  • Steve H
    220
    I have a client who as a contractor has now been required to "show evidence" of staff being fully vaccinated in order to be on site.
    My question is - should the client be collating all their employees proof of vaccination information, or is this a privacy issue and therefore the individual worker should provide that personal medical information themselves or give permission to the boss to pass it on?
    Sarah Foster

    Your contractor should ask for "Proof" that all the staff of his client on site are vaccinated then.
  • Don Ramsay
    87
    I have a customer asking the same so all I have done is individually ask each worker, and as part of the planning for jobs do not send unvaccinated people to that site. The customer does not need to know the details, I just inform them that each person coming to the site is vaccinated. No individual details of the staff just a declaration from me that I have done the checks.
  • MattD2
    237
    Hypothetically (hopefully) how quick do you think that customer would bend their rules if they could not get the services/contractors they needed (i am thinking speciilised work that only a few people in NZ can do).
  • Don Ramsay
    87
    We are waiting for that day to come and then we will have some conversations, as a lot of the work we do does involve specialist skills...
  • Peter Bateman
    228
    This piece in Stuff by employment lawyer Susan Hornsby-Geluk is enlightening on this topic.

    Great final line: "As a first tip to employers, do not ask for a show of hands as to who has been vaccinated in your staff meeting."
  • Steve H
    220
    Here's another Stuff item on another large employer mandating vaccination Peter. Sanford makes Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for fishing crews
    Meanwhile a Canterbury employer is offering staff a days leave to take two for the team
  • Michael Wilson
    113
    At a recent Safety Forum I asked the WorkSafe representative for worksafe's position. As some office based companies were taking this step does that show that it is reasonably practical?

    After umming and arring, the standard line of do a risk assessment came out.

    As a single covid case means a shut down of the office, brand damage and most importantly the risk of long term illness or death for staff and the risk of transmission in an airconditioned office is high. Surely any company could argue that it was a reasonable step.

    If anyone has their risk assessment that they would be keen to share that would be great to see hat decision you came to.
  • Michael Wilson
    113
    At a recent Safety Forum I asked the WorkSafe representative for worksafe's position. As some office based companies were taking this step does that show that it is reasonably practical?

    After umming and arring, the standard line of do a risk assessment came out.

    As a single covid case means a shut down of the office, brand damage and most importantly the risk of long term illness or death for staff and the risk of transmission in an airconditioned office is high. Surely any company could argue that it was a reasonable step.

    If anyone has their risk assessment that they would be keen to share that would be great to see hat decision you came to.
  • Adam Parkinson
    14
    Yes permission or consent to gather and share should be sought from staff.
    There are definitely Privacy Act considerations, and these should also be shared with the people receiving the info. Ultimately we cannot control what other people do with the info but we can certainly make our expectations clear, and refer them to the law.
  • Janene Magson
    8
    I too have heard that contractors need to have a list of names of their staff working on sites, and that this is "okay" as they(trades) have all been asked and they have agreed to this being available - the alternative is that they are not allowed on site - how is that not bullying some-one to give their private information to a third party?
  • Craig Marriott
    203
    @Peter Bateman Interestingly in that article she phrases the requirement as the risk needing to be higher than in the general population. I have not heard it couched in those terms before and am not sure where it comes from, or if it's right. I am struggling to think of any roles outside of healthcare where exposure to an endemic contagion would be higher at work than the general population.
  • Denise
    25

    " I am struggling to think of any roles outside of healthcare where exposure to an endemic contagion would be higher at work than the general population."

    In the first instance, I would place working in a classroom of 30 unvaccinated or vulnerable children or young people in that category.
  • Michael Wilson
    113
    Any airconditioned office where people are unmasked.
    Any industry where you need to work closely with someone.
  • Michael Wilson
    113
    The same could be said for drug testing, hearing, acc claims history etc. We need to ensure that we are not putting people at risk unnecessarily. If staff are at risk of infection then having those with the lowest risks makes sense. Imagine the impact on a workplace if an unvaccinated staff member was allowed onsite and ended up catching COVID. An asymptomatic vaccinated staff member who infected them would be devastated. Instead if a PCBU selects staff that are the least likely to get infected in the same way that you pick those who are most likely to be able to lift heavy objects.
  • MattD2
    237
    Imagine the impact on a workplace...Michael Wilson
    Michael, are you able to elaborate a bit on what you are meaning by the impacts on the workplace?
  • Michael Wilson
    113
    A death of a staff member would destroy morale.
    A sick staff member would mean a full shutdown, brand damage, customer relationship damage, ability for staff to earn a living etc.
  • MattD2
    237
    A death of a staff member would destroy morale.
    A sick staff member would mean a full shutdown, brand damage, customer relationship damage, ability for staff to earn a living etc.
    Michael Wilson
    But what is the actual risk of death of a staff member from Covid, and actually furthermore the marginal risk (can't think of a better term, along the same lines as marginal cost) of death above contracting Covid from the general population?
    And all the other aspects are business risks and so "Health and Safety" should not be used as a justification for managing those risks.
  • Sam Houliston
    3


    Hi Craig. WorkSafe's website suggests this question is part of a risk assessment: What is the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission in the work environment when compared to the risk outside work? (equal to outside work = lower risk; higher than outside work = higher risk).

    I'm struggling with the question frankly.
  • Steve H
    220
    It's that awful "depends" isn't it Sam? A bunch of assorted ages and states of vax, in close proximity in a large office with few/no opening windows are at greater risk of catching Covid if a an infected person actively shedding the virus comes into their workplace, than three or four out in a large warehouse, with container height doors that are open for most of the day.

    It was said on the podium of truth this morning that they were looking at the Covid 19 regulations to clarify this and the status of vaccine passports.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to the Safeguard forum!

If you are interested in workplace health & safety in New Zealand, then this is the discussion forum for you.