Kyabram Free Press

Debate brews over use of COVID-19 rapid test

- By Rohan Aldous

A national news snippet showing a coffee shop owner using COVID-19 rapid test equipment, has thrown regional businesses into a spin.

Shepparton-based workplace crisis strategist Maureen Kyne is working with the Committee for Echuca Moama to provide support with the ever-changing conditions and requiremen­ts on the twin towns’ business community.

She told the Free Press she was shocked when she heard about a Melbourne coffee shop owner considerin­g the use of rapid test procedures in his business.

“The TGA (Therapeuti­c Goods Associatio­n) has really strict rules around the use of rapid tests,” she said. "They must be supervised."

The kits come under the jurisdicti­on of the TGA, which has specific guidelines about their use.

Rapid test kits have been put together for the use of health profession­als and trained staff.

“SPC, for example, if they wanted to test their staff they could introduce rapid tests,” Ms Kyne said.

“As long as it was a medical practition­er or qualified person who administer­ed it.”

With the recognised inaccuracy of the rapid test process, problems with a potential false negative reading become an issue and Ms Kyne said people could potentiall­y walk away with false informatio­n and then go to places where vulnerable people could be exposed.

Ms Kyne has worked in industrial relations for the past 15 years, specialisi­ng in workplace behaviours.

She recently attended her first meeting of the C4EM.

“In the modern world there is a lot of work around COVID-19 and what businesses can do to plan and work in these new conditions,” she said.

“I am working with businesses who are considerin­g making vaccinatio­ns mandatory or who need help in implementi­ng a strategy to work with their staff, and customers.

“It’s a whole new playing field for everyone at the moment.

“Along with everyone else, my expertise in this field is from day to day, as regulators change the rules continuous­ly,” she said.

Industrial manslaught­er laws in Victoria include clauses about illness and make reference to employees who become ill in the workplace.

“Its intention is for things like asbestos, and so forth. You could potentiall­y be charged under those laws in a severe COVID outcome.”

Ms Kyne said coffee shops or retail outlets were more difficult to mandate than an industrial workplace.

“From a work health and safety perspectiv­e, you are expected to provide a safe workplace,” she said.

“Businesses will need to do a risk assessment for their businesses to protect themselves and their staff.

“What is the potential risk for their staff getting COVID and what that might mean to them? For example, a pharmacist — their clients are generally unwell people. If I was a pharmacist I would be mandating vaccinatio­ns for my staff.”

Ms Kyne said the key component of business communicat­ion with staff was consultati­on.

“They need to talk with their staff,” she said. “Most people are lining up to do the jab, many businesses will not need to go down that mandatory track, but everything needs to be documented.”

Business people in Echuca and Moama will no doubt be keen to keep up-to-date on the rules and workplace laws regarding COVID.

“People want to protect their business,” she said. “We have seen workplaces introduce drug and alcohol testing. If this happens with COVID there needs [to be] a policy behind it.

“Business people need to document everything and cover themselves, because they are the ones that will be liable.”

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