By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard

The South East of the state is again on tenterhooks this week as we wait to see if a couple of Delta cases spread and result in another lockdown.

And on tenterhooks we will remain until we arrive at a new COVID normal, where our vaccination rates are up and we begin lowering barriers at state and national borders and opening up the economy. 

What matters most is what we do with this gift of time, to prepare for a new COVID normal. Time that our colleagues in New South Wales and Victoria have been denied.

In our column last week we set an ambitious target for the Queensland horticulture sector, to reach 100 percent vaccination by the start of December. 

This week we are highlighting the importance of getting your business ready now for the COVID normal event of a positive case in your workplace.     

Putting into place and into practice now policies and procedures to manage the risks of COVID will not only keep you and your staff safe, it is also the best investment you can make to ensure your buyers get produce and your suppliers get paid. 

More than good practice, for most growers these policies and procedures are now required by the Queensland Government.

The latest Queensland Health Direction made it mandatory to complete a COVID Safe Checklist, and wherever possible to use the Check-In QLD app to record the entry of all staff and visitors.

The Direction applies to businesses where any person on farm, including casuals, contractors and consultants, is not returning each night to their primary place of residence. This is how the government defines ‘seasonal worker’, and includes Australians as well as those originally from overseas. 

The COVID Safe Checklist is easy to follow and serves as a timely reminder of what steps you as an employer can and must take to ensure your workplace remains safe. 

Within the Checklist there is a requirement for a work health and safety risk management framework to be in place. This could be your health management plan or a work health and safety plan for managing the risks of COVID-19 at your business.

The Check In Qld App now required for farming businesses is the same one that’s already mandated at restaurants and other venues. 

Refer to the Queensland Health website for the latest directive and guidance materials here.