Preparing your business for Covid-19

Risk Matters - Autumn 2020

Almost overnight, thousands of Australian office workers went remote.

However, LGIS members are in a position where a high number of their employees must continue to deliver vital frontline services while staying healthy. As the situation continues to evolve, no advice is set in stone. However, LGIS recommends members have prevention measures in place and are prepared for rapid changes within the workforce.

Ten top tips for employers

  1.  Your business continuity plan should have been triggered by now, this will save costs and ensure there is less strain put on management as the situation changes.

  2. Put staff members first. They may be anxious about risks, they may fall ill or be caring for sick family members. Planning for absences in critical roles is vitally important.

  3. Employers should identify essential workers and activities most at risk of spreading the virus. Control measures should be implemented in order to eliminate and minimise these risks.

  4. Sick workers should be encouraged to stay home.

  5. Have a plan in place if a significant number of workers or contractors cannot come into work because they are sick.

  6. Work out a plan to stagger shifts/split teams to limit the amount of workers who can potentially be exposed to the virus at one time. Timing of breaks should also be staggered.

  7. Have start and finish times outside of peak travel times if employees rely on public transport.

  8. Provide personal protective equipment, tissues, enclosed bins for tissues and hand sanitiser.

  9. If meetings are essential ensure they are held outdoors.

  10.  For outdoor workers follow the two-metre separation rule. This will mean driving in separate cars to a job site, task rotation, or restricting activities. Provide a tape measure or ruler that shows how far two metres is.

Seven top tips for employees

  1. Cooperate with local government risk control measures and take all steps to ensure you do not increase the risk of exposure to yourself or others.

  2. Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue (dispose of tissues immediately and use hand sanitiser after disposing).

  3. Create new ways of greeting workmates – avoid handshakes or high fives.

  4.  Wipe high touch areas and equipment with disinfectant after use.

  5. Let your employer know if you’re unwell and take time off.

  6. If you are feeling anxious or stressed access counselling services (see next page).

  7. Take lunchbreaks outdoors and alone if possible.

Cover your cough
Avoid touching face
Avoid close contact
Disinfect frequently
Wash your hands
Use hand sanitizer

A home based workforce

Office workers who went remote almost overnight are facing their own set of challenges. While the circumstances that led to this aren’t ideal, there can be some benefits to working remotely. Studies have found that working from home cuts out commuting
time and the associated fatigue, it can also make some workers more productive. However, some people can struggle with the realities of sharing a space with children, pets and spouses. Others can find being away from the office isolating. Remembering that this situation won’t last forever can help build a positive outlook.

Technology can also help maintain ties with workmates. Use technology like Facetime, Skype, Zoom, messages and emails to stay in touch. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by the situation acknowledge these feelings of distress and seek professional support (see below).

The LGIS Counselling Services is a free, short term support service available to local government workers by phone on 0456 914 733. The Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 1300 224 636 or via

Employers have an obligation to ensure employees have a safe work from home environment. LGIS have prepared the following tips on working from home and staying safe.

Three areas to consider for a safe home workspace


Check-in: Establish a procedure for the manager and worker to periodically check-in with each other, confirming that the
home worker is safe and well and not experiencing any issues. If issues are identified then working arrangements should be reviewed. Managers should regularly check-in on their employees’ well-being, either during team meetings or on an individual basis. Now, more than ever, employees need your support and guidance.

Emergency communication: Telephone or other communication devices are readily available to allow effective communication in an emergency situation

Incidents: Any safety incidents will be reported using the business’ incident reporting system.

Workplace and home safety

Power: Do not overload electrical outlets to avoid fire risk.

Trip hazards: Identify and reduce any trip hazards in the area. Be aware of your extension/power cords.

Emergency: Emergency contact numbers and details are known, i.e. 000 for fire, ambulance or police

First aid: Ensure first aid supplies are available and accessible Smoke detector: make sure a smoke detector is installed in/near the designated work area and is properly maintained

Safe storage: Keep your laptop and equipment in a secure place after hours that can be protected from damage or theft.


The chair: Use a sturdy chair that can be adjusted where possible. Refrain from sitting on very soft couches and chairs as they do not support the body evenly during extended sitting (see graphic).

Set-up: Adjust seating height where possible, so your forearms are parallel to the floor when typing and your hips are not lower than your knees. If you cannot adjust your chair and your feet cannot firmly touch the ground, use a book or ream of paper to raise your feet to the correct height.

Support: Place a small pillow behind your lower back while sitting to maintain the natural curve of your spine.

Desktop: Use an external mouse and place objects — such as your phone, mouse, and printed materials — close to your body to minimize reaching.

Monitor: Use your monitor. If this is not possible place your laptop on a riser/block/paper ream; the top of screens need to be at eye level.

Useable space: Ensure there is sufficient usable space on your designated working surface.

Breaks: Take short micro-breaks (approximately two minutes in length) every hour to stretch and move your body. If you have phone calls to make, get up and walk around your house or even outside!

Ergonomics advice

Worker's compensation implications

Legally a worker who suffers an injury while working from home will be entitled to compensation if they can establish the injury occurred while they were taking part in a task or activity, which the employer had authorised, encouraged or permitted them to be performing at the time. In addition, with reference to a worker who sustains injury while taking a break, the smaller the gap between the periods of work, the more likely it is that a court would accept the injury was sustained in the course of employment. To reduce exposure to claims, employers might consider providing employees with set hours of work and address break periods (preferably in writing), as well as appropriate guidance for setting up a home office ergonomically.

With or without a pandemic, working from home is becoming more common, and for many employers and employees, it comes as a significant change. While telecommuting will likely be the norm for the next several weeks, employers should be patient with themselves and their employees as they navigate this new world of work.

Maintaining a routine while working from home can help employees feel more productive.

People used to a ‘9 to 5’ office environment can feel lost without the predictability it brings.

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Ten top tips to get your head in the game

  1. Get ready for ‘the office’. Do all the things you’d normally do before work, set your alarm, get dressed, make a coffee – whatever you’d usually do to get ready for your day.

  2.  Use your ‘commute’ time to do some yoga, write a to-do list, or spend time with the family.

  3. The hours can blend into each other when you’re working from home – try to have a routine. Work on a project for an hour, then check emails and plan calls for the afternoon. Scheduling daily meetings online with colleagues to stay in touch.

  4. Stay connected to your colleagues, working from home can make you feel cut off, checking in with coworkers can remind you that your work is important.

  5. Create a dedicated workspace as this will help you get into a productive mental space. It’s also important to make sure that your space is set up properly. Use the LGIS ergonomic set-up guide (pictured) to help you establish your workspace at home.

  6. Take a break – it’s easy to avoid taking breaks altogether while working from home. A great timer for breaks is to set the washing machine or dishwasher. The time it takes for a cycle is productive time and when it’s finished stretch your legs and rest your eyes. Stay away from the computer, stretch and eat lunch away from your workspace.

  7. Plan your day and your week know what projects you’re working on and prioritise what’s important. Try setting your schedule the day before, making it feel more official when you wake up the next day to get started.

  8. Communicate expectations with those at home. Make sure any roommates, siblings, parents, spouses, and dogs (well, maybe not dogs) respect your space during work hours.

  9. Pick a definitive finishing time each day and set an alarm each day to prevent you getting so caught up in work that you completely lose track of time.

Coping with stress during the Covid-19 outbreak

It's normal to feel stressed during a crisis
Gather accurate information
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Limit worry and agitation
Limit worry and agitation
Don't use drugs to deal with your emotions
Draw on skills you have used in the past
Limit worry and agitation

LGIS Services

Safe @ work

Is your team working from home? Do you have staff who provide essential services to the community and are still at work? Employers must take all reasonable steps to provide a safe work place and equip their people with the knowledge to take responsibility for their own safety. For more information about your occupational health and safety obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic please contact the LGIS OSH Team.

Emma Horsefield  [email protected] |  0407 957 932

Getting Comfy @ Your Workstation (Not your couch)

Do you have staff working from home and in need of some ergonomic advice? No problem! Our Injury Prevention team are able to provide one-on-one Telehealth Ergonomic Assessments to assist your workers to get set up to the best of their ability. Appointments will be conducted via Zoom, which can be accessed on laptops and mobile devices. 

If you are interested, please contact our Injury Prevention team via phone or email:

Dane Casserly  |   [email protected]  | 0438182548
James Larkin  |  [email protected]   |  0419355943  

Keeping Well @ Home

Whether your staff are now working from home or still working from the office, supporting them to keep physically and mentally well during times of change is essential. During this hour online seminar we provide some tips and tricks to stay well, and an opportunity connect with others from within your organisation.

If you are interested please contact our HR Risk team via phone or email:

Shauna McQuade  |  [email protected]  |  0428 430 394  

Let’s talk Resilience

We need to be resilient now more than ever! Resilience supports us to deal with and bounce back from difficult and stressful times. This hour online seminar will provide staff with ways in which they can develop different aspects of resilience to promote positive wellbeing.

If you are interested please contact our HR Risk team via phone or email:

Shauna McQuade  |  [email protected]  |  0428 430 394  

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