Project Description

Workplace Relations, Work Health and Safety and Returning to Business Advice

Contacting Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI) members for advice

Have the bushfires affected your business, your operations or your staff? If you have any questions regarding employment conditions, staff needing to take leave to fight fires, defend properties, undertake other voluntary services or any other workplace issues arising from the bushfires, contact your local Chamber of Commerce or Industry Association for advice and assistance.

Poor Air Quality

With bushfires impacting communities across Australia, employers (PCBUs) need to ensure they are meeting their WHS obligations under relevant WHS, OSH and OHS legislation.

Employers/PCBUs must ensure they provide and maintain a safe working environment for their workers in indoor and outdoor environments so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers/PCBUs should monitor outdoor air quality levels via the appropriate State and Territory authority: Air Quality in the ACT, Air Quality Alerts NSW,EPA Air Watch Vic, Air Quality Monitoring SA, Air Quality Qld, Air Quality WA, Bushfire smoke advice in Tas, and NT Health Alert.

Employers/PCBUs can also access information on particulate matter relevant to elevated smoke levels via NSW Health and ACT Health.

Employers/PCBUs should remain aware of any bushfires near the proposed work area(s) and advise workers accordingly, including to follow instructions and advice from emergency services and evacuate the area if needed.

Business Recovery – Returning after the fires provides information on what to do in an emergency and support to get back up and running including a ‘Business Recovery’ checklist available for download:

Assessing your business and cleaning up after a disaster

  • Talk to emergency services personnel to find out if it is safe to visit your business and if any protective clothing or equipment should be worn.
  • Pack a notepad, pens, camera and any protective clothing/equipment.
  • List any damage to buildings, assets, stock or documents.
  • Take photos of the damage.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance company before you start any cleaning. Can you begin rebuilding or repair work immediately or do you need to wait for your insurance company to authorise repairs?
  • Do you have asbestos on your property? If so, it will need a specialist asbestos clean-up.
  • Contact your local council for information on cleaning and kerbside pickup.
  • Contact your insurer directly or visit a Relief Centre where the insurance representatives can advise you about insurance and support you’re clean up.
  • You can also visit the Insurance Council Australia website or phone the Insurance Council Australia Hotline on 1800 734 621 for assistance. The ICA may be able to tell you who your insurer is if you cannot find your insurance documents.

If you are uninsured

Visit a Relief Centre where staff can help organise ongoing support and clean up through not-for-profit partners or relief grants and assistance.

Who manages the removal of debris?

Speak to your insurer about whether they will arrange the removal of debris at your property.

An emergency may bring new health and safety risks to workplaces. As an employer, you still have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working environment where your workers are not exposed to hazards, as far as practicable.

After a disaster, the workplace will have changed. It is important that you identify hazards in your workplace that have resulted from the disaster, assess their risk, and manage them appropriately.

Asbestos risks

Fire can degrade asbestos-containing products. If your property has been affected by fire, take precautions during the clean-up.

Asbestos was a popular building material used widely in Australia until the 1980s. It was banned in 2003. If your home or business was constructed before this date, it may contain components with asbestos fibres.

If you suspect your property may contain asbestos, the debris must be disposed of safely and securely. If you are insured, and you have any questions regarding the removal of debris from a property, speak with your insurer.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Planning can make all the difference

Business continuity and disaster recovery planning are processes that help organisations prepare for disruptive events. While these events often refer to natural disasters, such as cyclones or bushfires – they also include more commonplace incidents like cyber-attacks, power outages, and road accidents.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) has prepared a free resource with step by step processes, checklists and editable sections designed to help WA businesses develop a business continuity plan. Although referencing WA specific legislation, the business continuity principles and activities are applicable to all states and territories.

CPA Australia Disaster Recovery Toolkit

Following a disaster, it is anything but business as usual for you, your employees, customers, and possibly your suppliers and the broader community. This guide has been prepared to assist you or your clients, as business owners or managers, to take a considered approach to the many elements of recovery following a disaster.

CPA Toolkit.

For any members who have been directly impacted by the fires and require any assistance from CPA Australia, contact us on 1300 73 73 73.

Communicating with your customers and suppliers whilst recovering

Google Tools for small businesses impacted by bushfires

Online tools can help to get information out and reach your audiences. We’re working to assist small businesses to help address immediate issues with their online presence.

Businesses impacted by the bushfires may want to consider taking the following steps on their Google My Business profile to provide the most timely and accurate information on Google Search and Maps:

  • Editing your hours of operation so customers can know if they are open, closed, or have modified hours on Google Search and Maps.
  • If you’re unable to be at your physical business location, update your business phone number to your mobile phone, so you can answer business calls remotely.
  • Create free posts to communicate timely information like service changes or inventory updates directly on the Google My Business profile.
  • Download the free Google My Business app, and activate messaging on your Business Profile to allow customers text you directly from Google Search and Maps.

Businesses impacted by bushfires can seek assistance related to their Google Ads campaigns by contacting the bushfire support hotline on 1800 287 850. We can help you pause campaigns, get help with payments, or start new campaigns as your business picks up.