Consultation has stepped up between CSIRO management, workplace health and safety representatives and Staff Association delegates as the organisation embarks on a limited trial of rapid testing for coronavirus; with individual screening results estimated to be available in under an hour.
Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and Staff Association delegates continue to work constructively with CSIRO’s Situation Management Team (SMT) in the lead up to the pilot program, which will involve workplaces in Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT from mid-October onwards.
“Delegates and HSRs have been active both at a workplace level and in discussions with the SMT raising practical issues and representing the views of employees throughout the pilot development process,” Staff Association Acting Secretary Susan Tonks said.
“It’s a great example of HSRs and delegates working together to consult with workers on health and safety issues in a dynamic, fast-changing work environment.”
The announcement of a pilot study using rapid antigen testing (RAT) to screen for COVID-19 in CSIRO workplaces was made by Executive Director Katherine Paroz in a recent email to staff.
“The purpose of the trial is to assess RAT as an additional mitigation measure to protect our people from COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, in situations where the virus is active in the community, and onsite operations are critical.
“The pilot will run throughout October at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in Geelong, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Tidbinbilla and our Fire Safety facility in North Ryde,” Ms Paroz said.
We’re conducting a short survey to check-in on the wellbeing of CSIRO staff as we near the end of the year.
The survey is anonymous and the responses will inform a national workplace health, safety and wellbeing report.
The pilot program involving Geelong, Canberra and North Ryde is built on the results of a smaller trial involving CSIRO staff that was conducted recently at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide.
CSIRO’s Health and Biosecurity are trialing a ‘Safe to Work’ protocol using RAT to screen workers before entering the workplace, aimed at assessing the test as an additional control measure to protect staff from COVID-19 transmission at work.
The protocol uses a Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved test on a simple nasal swab that is self-administered under supervision. Results are delivered on a mobile phone application and take approximately twenty minutes to display. Participation in the pilot program is voluntary.
“HSRs and delegates at ACDP are already working together to consult with workers and meet with management to ask key questions about the potential impact of the RAT pilot program,” Ms Tonks said.
“Some of the early issues that have been highlighted include the provision of paid time for participation, practical logistics, procedural questions, and clarification on the trial aims.
“The positive consultation process is playing an important role raising questions about what workplace rapid testing looks like if expanded to other CSIRO sites and adopted over the long-term,” Ms Tonks said.
Consultation with Staff Association delegates and HSRs has been integral throughout the pandemic and will continue to be play an important role as the CSIRO response to COVID-19 continues to evolve.
Health and safety is union business. Members are encouraged to contact their local HSR or Staff Association delegate with any questions or suggestions.
Staff Association HSRs and delegates are working together to consult with CSIRO employees on workplace health and safety issues in often challenging circumstances.
Support efforts to keep CSIRO workplaces safe by joining the Staff Association. If you’re not yet a member, join the union today.