Some business operations are restricted under state or territory government public health directions. If you want to know what restrictions on business operations apply to your workplace, go to your state or territory government website.
You can also go to our Public health directions and COVIDSafe plans page for links to enforceable government directions.
Businesses must only operate to the extent permissible in each state and territory. The information provided below outlines measures which cover all aspects of services offered by the industry – depending on what is permissible in your jurisdiction, some sections may not be currently relevant to your business. You should check any relevant advice from your state or territory regarding working from home in response to COVID-19.
Safe Work Australia does not regulate or enforce WHS laws or COVID-19 restrictions on business operations. If you want to know how WHS laws apply to you or need help with what to do at your workplace, contact the WHS regulator in your jurisdiction.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that is caused by a newly discovered form of coronavirus.
COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that was unknown before the outbreak that started in Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. Other known forms of coronaviruses include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever and respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, sore throat and shortness of breath.
Other symptoms can include runny nose, acute blocked nose (congestion), headache, muscle or joint pains, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of sense of smell, altered sense of taste, loss of appetite and fatigue.
Most people infected with COVID-19 will recover without special medical treatment. Some people, such as those with underlying medical problems or disease and older people, are more likely to suffer from more serious symptoms of the diseases. See also our website on vulnerable workers.
How is COVID-19 spread?
The virus that causes COVID-19 can be transmitted through respiratory droplets, smaller particles (aerosols), direct physical contact with an infected individual, and indirectly through contaminated objects and surfaces. People may be infectious for several days before they develop symptoms.
Respiratory droplets and aerosols that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Droplets may also come into contact with the person’s eyes, nose or mouth or be inhaled. Airborne transmission of COVID-19 through small particles called aerosols can also occur through coughing, sneezing, breathing and talking, with the greatest risk in indoor, crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces. Aerosols can remain suspended in the air and travel further than 1 metre (longer range).
A person may also be infected if they touch a surface contaminated with the COVID-19 virus and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands. Research shows that the COVID-19 virus can survive on some surfaces for several hours to a few days, depending on the surface type and environmental conditions.
For more information about COVID-19 please see the resources available from the Australian Government Department of Health.
You can also call the National Coronavirus Help Line on 1800 020 080 if you have questions about COVID-19. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you require translating or interpreting services, please call 131 450.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation for everyone. As a small business it is understandable you may have concerns about how to continue to meet your WHS duties at this time. There are a number of practical steps you can take to manage the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at your workplace and meet your legal obligations.
Here are some ideas to help you get started thinking about what you can reasonably do to keep people safe at your workplace.
For more WHS information and resources for small business, go to the COVID-19 Small business hub.