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WorkSafe New Zealand has received almost 600 reports of alleged COVID-19 breaches about businesses since the Level 4 lockdown came into effect on 18 August 2021.
By the morning of Friday 3 September WorkSafe had triaged 582 reports alleging COVID breaches through both its own online notifications form and as referrals from the Unite Against COVID complaints form.
Almost half of the complaints actioned by WorkSafe were allegations of businesses opening when they potentially should not have been.
The other main issues were about mask use, physical distancing (distance between people), and overcrowding (total occupancy).
Since Alert Level 3 was announced for areas outside of Auckland, WorkSafe has triaged 44 notifications about business operating under Level 3.
WorkSafe National Manager Planning Marcus Nalter said his team had been heartened by the cooperation from businesses when WorkSafe follows up on notifications.
“For the most part, people are wanting to do the right thing in these challenging times, and we really commend those taking the right steps. Our approach has been first and foremost about educating those we receive complaints about and working with them to put safe systems in place to support their staff and their communities.
“Where we can’t get this level of cooperation, and there are people deliberately flouting the rules and not displaying the right level of care, businesses can expect WorkSafe to consider enforcement”.
Most of the reports were about Auckland based businesses, followed by Christchurch, Hamilton and Wellington. The region with the fewest reports referred to WorkSafe was Gisborne.
WorkSafe inspectors had completed 508 COVID-19 remote assessments by Friday morning.
WorkSafe’s key reminders for businesses and the activity they would be seeking compliance on would be the following –
- It is each business's responsibility to ensure they are legally able to operate under Level 4 in Auckland and Level 3 for the rest of the country. More information on this can be found at on Business.govt.nz's page Opreating at Alert Levels(external link)
- Ensure your alternative contract tracing systems (so that people who don’t have the QR scanning app can record their presence at your business) are easily accessible for patrons and adequately protect private information.
- Ensure you have record keeping in place for your own staff as well. This might be in the form of your roster system or the use of access card records, or you many choose to implement an alternative.
- Get creative with implementing systems to encourage suitable physical distancing. Look at how the layout of your premises can be adjusted to best facilitate this.