COVID-Safe practices for your horticultural business
On Thursday 23 September, over 50 NGIV members joined our
webinar to hear from Dr John Parkes, on COVID-Safe practices for horticultural
Dr John Parkes, Senior Medical Advisor for the Department of
Health delivered a detailed presentation highlighting the steps horticultural
businesses can take to minimise the risk of a positive COVID case and how to adapt
operations if there is one.
Dr Parkes began by stressing the highly infectious nature of
the Delta strain and whilst the Victorian horticulture industry had previously
navigated the pandemic without any positive cases, this represents a much more
serious challenge. He encouraged a change of attitude from ‘if’ the virus
impacts your workplace, to ‘when’.
How can we give ourselves the best chance to keep our site
Having a tight, updated, practised COVID-Safe Plan that:
1. Stops the virus getting into your site
2. If the virus does get into your site, severely limiting
its spread; and
3. Proactively and aggressively manages any cases on site to
affect your business in the smallest way possible.
How to stop the virus getting into your site
Making sure workers don’t attend work if they, or
people in their household, are symptomatic.
Regularly communicate your expectations with
your employees and ensure CALD communities understand your instructions. Communicate
local exposure sites that may impact your workforce.
Be mindful of workers that attend several sites
and try to keep them in a bubble from your other workers.
Avoid any unnecessary visitors, if a visitor is
essential, ensure they don’t come into close contact with your team. Take the
same approach with drivers, ensure they have their own bubble wherever possible.
Be mindful of workers who have household members
in high-risk sites or parents to school children; try to bubble these workers
together if possible.
Encourage staff not to carpool.
Try to maintain a consistent, ongoing workforce.
How to limit the spread of the virus if it reaches your
If possible, operate your business with split
shifts and no crossovers.
Put your workforce into bubbles wherever feasible;
a potting bubble, a despatch bubble, etc.
Consider having same household members in the
same bubble and likewise for parents of school children.
Have separate entries, exits, toilets and lunchrooms
for different shifts and bubbles.
Encourage staff to avoid mixing bubbles/shifts during
smoking breaks, carpark encounters and after work.
Staff who need to work across multiple bubbles/shifts
(e.g. – managers, maintenance staff, etc) should endeavour to remain physically
Use of masks, social distancing and sanitising,
are all still important measures.
If you have capacity to engage a COVID marshal
to ensure your team operate in a COVID-Safe fashion, it is recommended.
Avoid indoor environments without ventilation as
much as possible.
Communicate the benefits of getting vaccinated
to your team and encourage them to do so; whilst respecting their personal
Dr Parkes left attendees with the message that this is real,
the number of cases are increasing but we can all play a part in minimising
risk and to do so many of us need to raise our game.
The webinar concluded with a Q&A session that gave attendees
the opportunity to ask their specific questions.
A big thank you to Dr Parkes for giving us his time and
expert knowledge. We’d also like to thank
Agriculture Victoria for bringing this opportunity to industry. And thank you to all of you that attended.
For small, specific advice on ensuring you are operating in
a COVID-Safe fashion email [email protected].
If you are in a situation where a member of staff tests
positive to COVID-19, please ensure you notify the NGIV office, the matter will
be treated in the strictest of confidence.