Category twelve - Best response to the COVID-19 pandemic in work health and safety
Community Enterprise Queensland has 28 stores, located from Palm Island to the south, Doomadgee to the west and as far north as Saibai. During COVID-19, maintaining store compliance in safe work practices and food safety was at risk. Food and safety auditors were unable to travel to the stores given the risk of contamination to already health compromised communities. Community Enterprise Queensland instigated several strategies in response to COVID-19 including:
- increasing stock orders, and initiating contact with the National Indigenous Australia Agency to partner with other lead agencies to ensure supply was not compromised
- developing a contingency plan and sharing it with relevant state and local departments
- rostering staff into two teams in the Cairns office to ensure business continuity
- providing education on the impending pandemic to allay fears, and establish strict protocol in the event communities were impacted
- introducing toolbox talks to educate staff on good hygiene and cleaning protocol about what to do in the event COVID-19 and speaking with the community
- regular COVID-19 updates
- introducing personal protective equipment (PPE) to all 28 outlets, and ensuring there was a supply of hand sanitiser, masks and register screens
- participation in the Local Disaster Management Group and the District Disaster Management Group
- negotiations with local councils to allow staff to travel to communities to relieve managers who had been dealing with the increased customers and sales.
Community Enterprise Queensland demonstrated a commitment to staff safety throughout COVID-19. Without the controls that were implemented, the health and safety of communities would have been compromised and reduced access to food supplies could have been catastrophic.