Coronavirus Team B Communications

Policy #2 - Saturday, 21 March 2020

Link to the form you must complete to confirm you have read this >

Our number one priority is the health and safety of our team members. By not following these instructions you may put fellow team members at an increased risk, as well as compromising our ability to keep functioning as a business. 

We all have a responsibility to take measures that help control the spread of the virus and protect the most vulnerable in our community.
As you know, we have been implementing safeguards to minimise the chances that our team members will come into contact with the virus, and if they do, to minimise the risk of them passing it on to other people at work. 

The situation is changing daily and so these measures will evolve as the broader public health strategy evolves.
We may all find in the next few weeks that more people that we know, or know of, are being tested for Coronavirus/COVID-19, particularly if the government loosens the criteria for who can be tested.
This email contains:

  • Rules for whether you can come to work or not, and when you need to report to me.

  • For people being tested for COVID-19, but awaiting results.


Rules for whether you can come to work

Do you have a cough, sore throat, fatigue, fever or high temperature (37.5 or above), or shortness of breath?
Have you come into contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19?
Have you been directed by a doctor to be tested for Coronavirus?

If so, you are required to not come to work, potentially seek medical advice, and contact Tracey Bailey as soon as possible:tracey@biome.com.au or tel: 0408 009983

Have you come into contact with someone who returned from overseas in the last 14 days?
Have you come into contact with someone who has been directed to self-isolate, but is not a confirmed case of COVID-19?
Do you have a runny nose, but no high temperature, cough, sore throat, fatigue, or shortness of breath?

If so, you are required to contact Tracey Bailey to discuss your situation in order to gain permission to come to work.
tracey@biome.com.au or tel: 0408 009983

Suspected case of COVID-19 awaiting test results


This relates to someone who is showing symptoms and has been directed by their GP to be tested for COVID-19, but it is prior to the results being known.

What you need to do

You must not come to work, and must remain self-isolated at home and strictly follow your doctor’s advice, including following the advised isolation measures in your home (such as staying in a separate room from others, not sharing facilities or food, etc).

Advise immediately your direct manager and the director, Tracey Bailey (0408009983 or tracey@biome.com.au) of your situation.

Should you be confirmed as having COVID-19, we will be contacted by the local Public Health Unit, whose role it is to be in contact with close contacts from the workplace, if any, to advise them on what action to take.

What Biome will do

Advise anyone who has been at work with you in a potential close or casual contact situation that a colleague has a possible case of Coronavirus and is being tested; and, that they are to monitor for any symptoms they feel.

Thoroughly clean and disinfect the person's workstation, and any communal areas they have used.

Policy #1 - Sunday, 15 March 2020

Link to the form you must complete to confirm you have read this >

Social Distancing Policy

Biome cares deeply about the health and safety of our employees and making sure the work environment is as safe as possible.  We are dedicated to minimising the likelihood of health risks associated with the Coronavirus.

As Australia enters the next phase of helping to slow the spread, we are being asked to practice social distancing.  This involves keeping a distance of 1 to 1.5 meters from other people, not touching, and avoiding sharing closed spaces for prolonged periods of time.

Currently, the chances of contracting coronavirus are still low as there is not widespread community transmission.  We are thus encouraged to go about our lives and businesses for as long as possible to find the balance between slowing the spread, but not affecting people’s livelihoods more than necessary. 

While you go about your day, your primary responsibility is to stop yourself and others from being infected, by washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, not touching your face, practising good hygiene when you sneeze or cough, and staying away from others when you are unwell.

It is possible that one or more of our team will contract coronavirus and will have been at work before they are aware.  To prepare for this circumstance, we need to be all ‘keeping our distance’ so that as few people as possible will have their lives impacted by needing to self-isolate.

We are a family at Biome and I want you all to be reassured that we are here to support each other, and that Biome is commited to supporting any of our team experiencing financial or emotional hardship.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time to discuss your situation.

 

Close and casual contact

Our policy is guided by these Government guidelines – until revised:

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/202003/2001628_COVID-19%20Self%20assessment%20for%20risk.pdf

 

CLOSE contact is defined as:

Spending more than 15 minutes face-to-face with a person who is a confirmed case, in the 24 hours before they showed symptoms or once they showed symptoms

Sharing a closed space for more than two hours with a person who is a confirmed case, in the 24 hours before they showed symptoms or once they showed symptoms.

 

CASUAL contact is defined as:

Spending less than 15 minutes face-to-face in any setting with a person who is a confirmed case AND they had symptoms at the time

Sharing a closed space for less than two hours with a person who is a confirmed case AND they had symptoms at the time

 

Currently, those who have had casual contact are not required to self-isolate, but to go about your normal business, while monitoring yourself for 14 days for the most common symptoms of COVID-19.

Thus, our goal in the Biome workplace is to avoid what is defined as CLOSE contact, and to minimise what is defined as CASUAL contact.

 

From Monday, 16 March, we are implementing the following actions. It will take us a few days to fine tune the practices, but I am confident that we are getting prepared well in advance of when required, as we have been doing for the past few weeks.

 

Your personal responsibilities

 

No shaking hands, hugging, or touching each other.

 

Practising exemplary hygiene, including regularly cleaning hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, and using a hand sanitiser.

 

Actively taking personal responsibility for the sanitising shared surfaces and devices that you touch at work.

 

Staying away from work or others if you are feeling unwell, particularly any of the symptoms of coronavirus:

Respiratory symptoms
Fever (a temperature over 38°C)
Cough
Shortness of breath

Breathing difficulties

If you come to work exhibiting signs of illness, your manager will discuss whether you should be at work and may send you home. This is important in making sure everyone feels safe at work.

Bring your BYO Kit to Work*

(because these items will no longer be provided at work):

  • Hand towel

  • Keepcup / mug

  • Cutlery

  • Container with your food

  • Water bottle

  • A bag for your dirties

 

After use, all your cutlery, cups, plates are to be placed immediately into your bag and taken home and washed, not left on the sink, or at work. Please also take any food in containers home every day.

 

*If you need assistance with any of the above, Biome is very happy to provide for you.

 

Facilities changes

 

All hand towels removed.  

All shared crockery, cutlery and mugs, glasses removed from staff areas by end of Tuesday, 17 March.

No communal food to be supplied, no fruit, cakes, etc.

 

Work practices

 

All discussions are to happen from a distance of 1 to 1.5 metres.  Your manager/supervisor will be working on the practicalities of this, such as picking in the morning, packing stations, store teams, and Collective workshops.

Minimise sharing of office space.  Specific instructions will be provided relevant to your workspace.

No meetings with more than two people, and participants keeping 1.5 meters apart.

Assisting customers in store:  keep interactions with customers to less than 5 minutes and keep a distance of 1 metre.  The public areas of our stores are generally not considered closed spaces.

Goods receiving.   Please be aware that virus can exist on surfaces, possibly boxes, for several days. Those receiving deliveries and touching boxes need to wash hands immediately after doing so, and not touch your face before you do.

No external visitors to the office – use the telephone or video conferencing.

 

Breaks

No more than two people together and keeping 1 to 1.5 meters distance.  At Milton, we recommend you use the outdoor cabana.

 

Cleaning

Increased cleaning and sanitising practices.  A separate policy will be issued on this.

 

Self isolation and leave

 

Anyone who believes they meet the requirements for self-isolating must advise your manager and contact Tracey to discuss your leave arrangements.  We are commited to supporting both permanent and casual employees who are unable to work because of public health requirements related to coronavirus.

 

If you are required to self isolate at home for 14 days, at that time, we will discuss what arrangements can be made for you to continue duties from home, or make other arrangements. 

 

Future steps

 

I will be looking at the roster to engineer a separation of critical people so they are not at work at the same time.

There will be a thermometer for checking your temperature before starting work available at your location later in the week.  Instructions will be issued at that point.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

The health and safety of our people, your families, our customers and the community is our priority. 

We encourage anyone who is feeling unwell to seek medical advice.  If you have any symptoms of cold, fever, breathing difficulties, and you have been overseas to any country in the past 14 days, or have been in close contact with someone who has recently been overseas, or you have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus in the last 14 days, you must:

raise this immediately with your manager and/or I, and do not come to work.

Depending on the circumstances of your contact with someone, you may be instructed to self-isolate by the health authorities.  

Doing our part to slow the speed of spread of the disease (flattening the curve) is vital to our hospitals being able to look after everyone who is sick at once.

Infection control

I remind you all about obsessive hygiene, regular hand washing, using hand sanitiser, keeping your distance from customers, avoiding shaking hands.  
It is also very important to maintain your immunity with healthy eating, sleep and drinking water.
Please carry your own hand towel from home to use when you are out, and also hand sanitiser.

What are the rules if you can not work
This is an unprecedented situation that even Fair Work Australia does not have specific rules for.  We will need to work together across all roles in Biome to find appropriate solutions that suit the needs of our operations and staff.   
There is a strong likelihood that our casual team will see their shifts reduced should traffic to our stores decline.  We hope to be able to compensate with an increase in our online operations.  I am also thinking about any other kinds of work we can catch up on that may be able to be done from home.
I am sorry for the financial impact this may have on you, but hope you understand it is necessary for the survival of the business that we reduce costs in line with our sales.

You can read more here from Fair Work Australia

Today, the Federal Government announced that casual workers who contract COVID-19 or have to isolate themselves, will be eligible for a Newstart welfare payment while out of work. 

Contingency planning

On a business level, we are working hard to ensure that we are well prepared for any disruption to our operations in the coming months.  Many of our head office functions can be handled remotely.  Our stores and online order despatch of course can not.  

I sincerely hope not, but it may come to the point when our stores and Milton office may need to close for a period of time.  Our plan is for online in particular to have staged shifts to reduce the number of people at work at once (taking appropriate infection and transmission control measures).

In these challenging times, I encourage us all to live our values of being compassionate, kind and supportive to each other and our customers, dynamic and hopeful!  

Please contact me if you wish to talk about anything.  There is also a Coronavirus Health Information line Phone: 1800 020 080. 

The current Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade countries of concern are i.e. Mainland China; Iran; South Korea; Italy; Japan.  This may soon extend to the whole of the EU.  

Friday, 6 March 2020

Hi to everyone on the Biome team
As an employer, I have a duty of care to everyone in our workplace to keep you safe at work.
(1)
If you have returned from overseas in the past 3 weeks, please email just me back directly and let me know which countries you travelled to, and when you came back.
If this is you, I am sure you are across the messages, that should you feel the slightest signs of a cold, runny nose, breathing difficulties or fever, please immediately isolate yourself and do not travel to your workplace.  Please contact me and we will discuss appropriate steps.
(2)
If you believe that you may have come into contact with anyone that has been diagnosed with Coronavirus (or any serious virus), please contact me immediately to advise, so that we can take appropriate steps.
(3)
Please re-read the below email and attachment about virus protection.
Here is the summary:
Wash Your Hands.
Washing your hands properly and frequently is by far the most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of illness. Use soap and water and hand sanitiser.
Use hand sanitiser. As long as it contains more than 60 percent alcohol, it will effectively kill most germs, including cold viruses.
Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Cover Your Cough. Cover your mouth with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, as your germs can fly as far as six feet away and make others around you sick. Wash your hands everytime after coughing or sneezing into your hand.
Eat Right, Exercise, Get Enough Sleep. This truly is the best way to keep your body healthy. If you take care of yourself, your immune system has the best opportunity to function like it should and protect you from as many illnesses as possible.Avoid close contact with people who have a cold.
Disinfect and wipe down contaminated objects, toys, and surfaces.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Hi team
Can you please instill an excellent personal hygiene practice in your store/location with constant reminders and the following steps in place.   Please print this for the memo folder for all staff to read.
Ensure:
  • Hand sanitiser is placed at each checkout, at your sink/s, kitchen, store room.  Dept of Health recommends an alcohol-based one, which ours is (ethanol is a light alcohol) - though I am checking on the percentage.  Feel free to purchase non-natural ones if you prefer.
  • Liquid soap at all sinks.  
  • Specific hand towel to be placed separately with a sign indicating that it is not to be touched with dirty hands - only used after hands have been washed.  Carolyn will communicate separately with each of you on a strategy for hand towels / tea towels.
  • Computer keyboards, mouse, eftpos machines, and counter top are sprayed with sanitizer and wiped with a throwaway tissue first thing in the morning, at midday and at end of day.
  • Staff dealing with the public and handling money are reminded to wash their hands every hour and definitely before eating or touching food.  (Place a small sign on the computer monitors to remind, in the store room etc).  Also wash hands again in store after returning from a public toilet of you touched the door handle.
  • Staff should be conscious of keeping their distance from all customers and in particular, any customer that is coughing, sneezing, runny nose.  After close interaction, immediately wash and sanitise hands. 
Please print the attached sign and place in all staff areas, above sink, toilets etc. 
Regarding the Coronavirus, I am keeping a close eye on the public health announcements and commit to taking a precautionary approach.   Please do keep me informed of any concerns from your team or related to your location.
Following the above infection prevention steps is the current best defense for avoiding infection from any virus.