Safe Work Australia dumps 1.5m social distancing for office lifts

Staff reporterMay 21, 20200 min read

The Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter has reportedly intervened to ensure the workplace safety watchdog dumped strict rules on social distancing in lifts.

Porter feared long and costly bottlenecks would occur in office towers as the country goes back to work.

It is claimed the revised Safe Work Australia guidelines were released were safe, but practical.

Porter said he had raised the issue with the agency, but it was a matter for Safe Work to rule on, Nine Entertainment's AFR reported.

"Ultimately it is a matter for Safe Work Australia to determine the appropriate guidance to provide to industry. Neither the government, nor I as minister, can change that guidance."

"I’m advised that the chief health officers from all states and territories reported that they were comfortable with the updated advice."

The agency reversed its guidelines on Wednesday.

Workers in lifts should still maintain their distance and avoid touching other people in lifts, a Safe Work Australia spokeswoman said on Thursday.

"If a lift is full based on the advised passenger limits, workers should wait for the next lift," she said.

"If they need to cough or sneeze during a lift journey they must do so into their arm or a clean tissue. They should wash their hands, or where this is not possible, use appropriate hand sanitiser, after exiting the lift, particularly if they touched lift buttons, rails or doors, and not attend work if they are unwell."

It has been previously reported physical distancing rules could force workers in Australia Square Tower to wait as long as three hours to get up and down the landmark building at the start and end of the day, as the 1.5-metre requirement allows no more than two people in its lifts at the same time.


Staff reporter

Office Tenants
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