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2020-04-04

COVID-19: Safety advice for postal members

There are now 11 confirmed cases of Coronavirus within the Australia Post workforce. Seven of which have not been at work and therefore don’t present as a risk to others. However, the remaining four, who ordinarily work at Kingsgrove Delivery, Sydney Gateway Facility and Sydney Parcel Facility, in NSW, have been at work and, along with their close contacts, have been directed to self-isolate in accordance with the government requirements. Those affected workplaces have also undergone a strict ‘deep clean’ over and above that required by government.

Since the COVID-19 epidemic emerged as apparent in Australia, your Union has continued to seek enhancements to Work Health and Safety measures with major employer groups who employ our members. Some of the measures sought from Australia Post to mitigate against the threat of COVID-19 to members, your families and the communities you serve include: minimising your physical contact with your customers; compliance with the government’s requirements for social distancing, within indoor facilities; the urgent provision of personal protective equipment (PPE); and a genuine and transparent cleaning and disinfecting regime of hard surfaces and frequently handled equipment within your workplaces.

Our members are providing a critical and essential service to the public – but deserve to be able to do so safely. Members must comply, so far as they are reasonably able to, with any reasonable instructions given and to cooperate with any reasonable policy subject to circumstances where they have a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to their health and safety. And whilst we recognise Australia Post’s response to heightened risk so far, and appreciate the difficulties they have confronted in procurement of PPE to mitigate against an imminent risk to your health and safety, in some areas this response has been inadequate.

Therefore, the National Divisional Secretary is strongly advising members to follow the below, to take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety and to take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons.

Doing so ensures compliance with your obligations under the Fair Work Act 2009 and Section 28 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

EFFECTIVE 4 APRIL 2020, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
  1. Members responsible for the delivery of articles to a customer’s premises and/or the operation of a vehicle on public roads, who have not been provisioned with a personal portable supply of hand sanitiser and who have a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to their health and safety should:
    1. Avoid undertaking delivery of any article to any home or business location if such a delivery requires the member to handle or touch any hard surface – including, but not limited to: door handles, letterboxes, parcel lockers, intercoms, security keypads and elevator buttons;
    2. Avoid re-fuelling their vehicle should such act require the handling or touching of any hard surface – including, but not limited to: fuel pumps and EFTPOS facilities – unless sanitiser, gloves or other PPE is made available by the re-fuelling establishment for use by the public or the establishment has suitable public handwashing facilities.
  2. Members required to undertake any duties in an indoor facility should not continue to work in the facility if, by doing so they:
    1. Breach the government’s requirement to limit persons in an indoor venue to 1 person per 4 square metres of floor space;
    2. Breach the government’s requirement to remain at least 1.5 metres away from people not residing in your household.
  3. Members required to undertake any duties within an indoor facility should not continue to work in an area that:
    1. Does not display a clear indication, such as a schedule, roster or other notice within the ’shared zone’, that required cleaning and disinfecting has occurred within two hours of the last occasion
      and where they have a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to their health and safety ;
    2. Does not have an adequate and easy to access supply of hand sanitiser and where they have a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to their health and safety ;
    3. Does not have an adequate and easy to access supply of disinfectant wipes to sanitise equipment before and after your required use of that equipment and where they have a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to their health and safety .

             ... and where they have a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to their health and safety.

 Members must notify their supervisor on each occasion in which they are unable to perform their duties due to their reasonable concern about an imminent risk to their health and safety, and must not unreasonably fail to comply with a direction to perform alternate duties that are safe and appropriate to perform. Members should also advise their AUR or Branch Official of such.

It is unlawful for any representative of Australia Post to threaten your employment or withhold your wages for any period in which you complied with the above advice – which is reasonable, lawful and ensures your compliance with the relevant Acts. Such unlawful behavior is subject to significant penalties, not only against employers, but any individual management representative involved. Your Union will actively pursue prosecutions for each occasion in which a member is subjected to such unlawful behavior.

 Yours faithfully,

GREG RAYNER
NATIONAL DIVISIONAL SECRETARY

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