HomeNewsNews & EventsVic COVID-19 Update: New guidance for COVID-19 exposure in the workplace

Vic COVID-19 Update: New guidance for COVID-19 exposure in the workplace

What you need to know

  • Updated guidance documents support decision-making following potential or actual COVID-19 exposure in Victorian disability settings.
  • Workers who have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case are recommended to test daily with a RAT for a further seven days.
  • Ventilation to reduce aerosol transmission guidelines provides information on ventilation principles and how to optimise existing systems.

Workplace contact assessment and management guidance

Victorian Department of Health has updated guidance documents to support decision-making following potential or actual COVID-19 exposure in disability settings.

The guidance is general. Some circumstances may require Department of Health or public health unit involvement.

The workplace, business and industry guidance applies to disability day programs and supported disability employment settings.

The primary care, community-based healthcare and emergency services guidance applies to residential disability services, SDA dwellings, disability in-home support services and supported residential services.

Key points from both guidance documents include:
  • Workers diagnosed with COVID-19 must notify employers if they attended an indoor space during their infectious period.
  • Workplace operators must take reasonable steps to inform employees and contracts of their exposure to a positive case and their obligation to get tested and quarantine until receiving a negative result.
  • Operators will need assurance of a negative PCR test before a worker can return to the premises.
NDS is developing a scenario-based table to assist providers with the implementation of the worker contact assessment and management guidance.

Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT)

Advice on the use of Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) in disability settings, following a potential or actual COVID-19 exposure, is contained in the guidance documents.

Following a negative PCR result, the guidance strongly recommends that workers who have been exposed should continue to test daily with a RAT for a further seven days.

For people returning to work, a RAT is strongly recommended:
  • when visiting sensitive and low-vaccination settings, including disability facilities
  • before entering an indoor work setting
The guidance documents do not state directly that providers should record the RAT results of their workers. However, NDS has received advice from DFFH that such record-keeping of results is implied.

Workers who are exposed to the virus at their workplace can request RAT kits at the PCR testing locations. Workers should inform testing staff they are employed in the disability care services, and if the RAT kits are available can collect this and guidance on how to use them. Not all testing sites have the RAT available.

NDS is seeking further information on the testing sites where the RATs are available.

Any worker who tests positive using a RAT must have the result confirmed by a PCR test. No action should be taken without a PCR confirmation, ,however, if the test is positive, all contacts of the subsequent case must be identified and provided advice on PCR and rapid antigen testing.

In the event of multiple cases being identified, guidance and assessment by a Local Public Health Unit is available, by calling 1300 651 160.

Ventilation to reduce aerosol transmission guidelines

The Victorian Department of Health has published guidelines on ventilation systems and strategies for non-acute care and non-residential community settings to assist reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission indoors.

COVID-19: Ventilation principles and strategies to reduce aerosol transmission in community and workplace settings provides information on ventilation principles and how to optimise existing ventilation systems (mechanical or natural).The risk of transmission is highest in:
  • crowded places
  • close-contact settings
  • confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.
While good ventilation is important, it is one component of Infection Prevention and Control.

Key points in the guidelines include:
  • There is growing evidence that heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems can aid aerosol virus transmission in certain settings. However, well-maintained and appropriately designed systems contribute to the diffusion and dilution of virus aerosols
  • The ideal ventilation rate in enclosed spaces in community settings and workplaces can be achieved through HVAC system, fans, standalone air conditioning units, exhaust fans or the opening of doors and windows.

New easy read vaccine fact sheets

The Commonwealth Department of Health has published new Easy Read documents about the COVID-19 vaccine booster dose and the third dose.

Article sourced from National DIsability Services