National Cabinet takes advice on vulnerable people in the workplace

National Cabinet has endorsed advice on vulnerable people in the workplace from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

The advice suggests that the following people are, or are likely to be, at higher risk of serious illness if they are infected with the virus:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • People 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions. Conditions included in the definition of ‘chronic medical conditions’ will be refined as more evidence emerges.
  • People 70 years and older
  • People with compromised immune systems (see Department of Health website).

National Cabinet noted that the new AHPPC advice on the higher risk categories for people 65 years and older with chronic conditions had changed based on more up to date medical advice. 

In addition, National Cabinet endorsed the AHPPC advice that:

  • Where vulnerable workers undertake essential work, a risk assessment must be undertaken. Risk needs to be assessed and mitigated with consideration of the characteristics of the worker, the workplace and the work. This includes ensuring vulnerable people are redeployed to non-customer based roles where possible. Where risk cannot be appropriately mitigated, employers and employees should consider alternate arrangements to accommodate a workplace absence.
  • Special provisions apply to essential workers who are at higher risk of serious illness and, where the risk cannot be sufficiently mitigated, should not work in high risk settings.
  • Excluding healthcare settings where appropriate PPE and precautions are adhered to, the AHPPC considers that, given the transmission characteristics of the virus, the following settings are at higher risk of outbreaks of coronavirus –  correctional and detention facilities and group residential settings.

The AHPPC advice is that there is limited evidence at this time regarding the risk in pregnant women.

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