Very high caseload environment critical worker definition and protocols

  • ​Critical workers defined for a very high caseload environment to ensure the continuity of operations essential to alleviate critical workforce shortages 
  • Strict rules for asymptomatic critical workers identified as a close contact to attend work, if required for continuity of operations
  • Balances the COVID-19 risk with the critical needs of the community
  • Western Australians urged to get vaccinated, including third doses, as soon as eligible
  • The definition of a critical worker has been released for when Western Australia enters into a very high caseload environment and new testing and isolating protocols take effect.

    The critical worker definition is vital to maintain critical services and avoid catastrophic losses, such as loss of life, ongoing access to care and essential goods and workplace safety.

    It will only take effect when WA reaches a very high caseload environment, triggered by epidemiological and outbreak response, subject to the latest health advice.

    The definition of a critical worker in WA is someone whose role cannot be undertaken at home who:

    • performs a role that is critical to the COVID-19 response, or continuation of critical services that prevent significant harm (e.g. loss of life, catastrophic impacts to safety or welfare, lack of access to essential goods) to an individual or the community; or
    • performs a role that is necessary for the safe continuation of services and/or has specialist skills in one of the following industries:
    • transport, freight and logistics, including public transport;
    • food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing, supply and retail (e.g. supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies);
    • petrol stations and truck stops;
    • agriculture (for the purpose of food supply and biosecurity);
    • critical resources including mining, power, utilities and waste management services;
    • building and construction;
    • corrective and judicial services;
    • police and emergency services;
    • schools and childcare (refer to specific protocols for these particular settings);
    • health care services;
    • social assistance and residential care;
    • veterinary services;
    • defence; and
    • funeral, crematorium and cemetery services.

    These critical workers will be required to follow the new testing and isolating protocols if a close contact:

    • if symptomatic, follow symptomatic close contact protocols;
    • if asymptomatic, and you are required to work for continuity of operations, you must have a negative RAT daily;
    • wear a surgical mask outside your home, use other PPE where possible, and travel alone, if possible;
    • when not at work, you must self-isolate;
    • if symptoms ever develop, you must follow symptomatic close contact rules;
    • if a RAT is positive, you must follow confirmed positive case protocols.

    Workplaces will be required to determine the number of critical roles, based on the State Government’s guidelines.

    Employers must register this information with the State Government. An online registration system will be developed ahead of these settings coming into place.

    For the full list of defined critical workers and for more information, visit: https://www.wa.gov.au

    As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:

    “As we’ve seen in the east, high rates of workforce absenteeism driven by very high COVID-19 caseloads has had a significant impact on communities.

    “Critical businesses like supermarkets, construction and building, pharmacies, childcare centres, and food supply chains and biosecurity have been forced to close when very high caseloads forced many workers into isolation.

    “The release of WA’s critical worker definitions now – when we are not in a very high caseload environment – allows the eligible industries and sectors to plan and develop organisational policies.

    “In NSW critical worker definitions were put in place when nearly 35,000 daily cases were recorded – we won’t be waiting for these caseloads to occur in WA before implementing the new settings.

    “It is broadly aligned with national guidelines, with an enhanced RAT self-test protocol.

    “Critical workers in WA’s resources sector are included in the critical worker definition, unlike in other jurisdictions, in recognition that the industry is pivotal to supply chains and the continuity of essential services, and WA’s strong economy.

    “This is about striking the right balance – a balance of community risk from COVID-19 and maintaining critical services to avoid catastrophic losses, such as loss of life, ongoing access to care and essential goods.”

    As stated by Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:

    “There will be strict protocols for asymptomatic critical workers to attend work, if required for the continuity of operations – this is intended to only be used as a measure of last resort.

    “This policy is not intended to enable the continuation of regular business activities, such as new investment or expansion activities, tasks that could be delayed or deferred, or for undertaking discretionary tasks.

    “The definition of critical workers is essential to ensure critical supply chains and services can continue to support Western Australians and our community.”

    /Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.