Workplace guidance for Science Services under Alert Level 3 – Restrict

This guidance has been endosed by Worksafe.

Read the guidance disclaimer [PDF, 28 KB].

Under the Level 3 operating environment our aim is enable some services to resume while continuing our COVID-19 response to minimise risks to public health.

Organisations that receive science funding from MBIE and their workers who can operate from home must continue to do so. Workplaces may be reopened if the work cannot be done from home and the workplace can operate consistently within public health guidance and ensure the appropriate protections for workers. If you are unsure about what activities you can undertake, please contact the General Manager, Science System Performance and Investment.

We recognise that many of our science sector organisations have been able to operate at Level 4 and may already have these measures in place. For both workplaces which will continue to operate and those who are looking to reopen part of their workplaces in Level 3 – operating in the current environment carries great responsibility to ensure the health and safety of workers. The expectations of the community, workers, and regulators is that workplaces will meet the highest possible standards and that managers, supervisors, and individual worker actively manage adherence to the safety measures and expectations. We expect all workers to demonstrate leadership and appropriate self-supervision to ensure that these standards are met and that they are looking out for the health and safety of their colleagues, family and community while at work.

Science sector organisations must not see the move from Level 4 to Level 3 as an opportunity to restart workplaces as quickly as possible and in an unsafe fashion.

Workplaces must engage with workers (as individuals or representatives) in any decision making for changes to work practices. We want everyone to feel confident and safe when returning to work, and be confident that if they can continue to work from home they are able to.  Any workers' consultation and/or feedback should be an ongoing process so that workplaces are able to improve practices and learn lessons to continuously improve management and safety.

The following guidance has been provided together with WorkSafe for the Science sector and must be applied to any organisation which requires the physical presence of workers at a workplace during Level 3:

  • Workplaces must significantly reduce the number of workers at a premises with physical distancing (min. one metre) between all on-site workers
  • Workplaces which interact with other businesses must communicate ahead of time to establish a clear understanding of responsibility and overlap.
  • Workplaces must take practical hygiene steps to avoid the spread of the virus. E.g. ensuring only essential work is done; supplying soap and water or hand sanitiser to ensure workers can frequently wash their hands; splitting meal breaks to reduce the number of people using a kitchen; ensuring only one worker at a time in bathroom
  • Workplaces must hold centralised records of any workers working together  
  • Workplaces must take centralised contact tracing measures (i.e. sign-in and sign-out procedures for all those entering a premises, recording interactions and floor access)
  • Workers are not to attend a workplace if they have any symptoms of feeling unwell or are being tested for COVID-19
  • Workers are not to attend a workplace if they have been in close contact with anyone who is displaying respiratory symptoms, being tested for COVID-19, or has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19
  • Organisations must work together with workers to identify if they should remain home under public health guidance. For workers who are at a higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19 (per the Ministry of Health’s advice), they may be able to work if the worker and employer agree that their risks can be appropriately managed (Ministry of Health – most at risk)
  • Face to face meetings, workshops, hui and/or conferences must not occur, but can be carried out via distancing tools.
  • Organisations resuming laboratory and field studies that are able to do so while adhering to the Government Alert Level 3 restrictive measures including:
    • Physical distancing, use of PPE, hand washing and additional cleaning and hygiene measures outlined at Level 3. 
    • Workers travel must be limited as outlined on the Ministry of Transport website(external link) 
    • Regions are defined as the 16 Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, for example Southland, Nelson Tasman, Bay of Plenty, or Northland.
    • Travel for field work must be restricted to their home region and adhere to the guidance outlined above.
    • Workers must avoid contact with anyone outside of their field teams, including while traveling, undertaking their work activities, and must maintain detailed contact and movement logs.

All organisations are obliged to eliminate transmission risks where possible, and where not, to substitute work practices or provide as higher level of control as possible. We expect organisations to maintain, or create new, practices that meet or exceed the Ministry of Health guidelines as they are updated.

If a workplace reopens, a formal plan must be created which details how workers will be kept safe at Level 3 and dealing with COVID related risks. Organisations do not have to present these plans in order to operate, but will be expected to produce it when requested by WorkSafe, who will be conducting checks across New Zealand and all sectors. Further information, guidance and a template for these plans is available at WorkSafe. If you are already operating at Level 4, and have a formal plan in place, we ask that you review these against Level 3 guidance.

This guidance is to ensure the health and safety of workers, and all New Zealanders and is in line with Ministry of Health expectations.

Last updated: 05 May 2020