NSW Health has released a new Exposure Response Framework that bring welcome clarity to businesses and individuals on the vital question of how exposures to COVID-19 infected persons will be managed moving forward.  This Framework is something that ACAPMA has been actively working on with Health and represents a significant step towards ensuring that once the economy opens, it can stay opens.  Like all things there are still elements to be addressed, but a risk matrix approach that recognises the risk mitigation impacts of short exposure, masks and vaccination is a welcome step forward.

The Exposure Response Framework details how Health will classify persons who are exposed to an infected person, namely what will determine if they are a Close Contact, Casual Contact or Low Risk Contact.

What’s new in the Framework? 

Risk controls, including masks, space and importantly vaccination is now taken into account in deciding if a contact was close or casual.

What’s missing from the Framework? 

The Framework is complete, but it should be noted that Health may also adjust the isolation requirements for Close Contact, Casual Contacts and Low Risk Contacts.

What does it mean for fuel wholesale and retail?|
That missing element is worth remembering, but for now it is clear that for most fuel retail and transport staff, as long as the staff are vaccinated and wearing their masks, usual contact with an infected customers will most likely result in the employee being deemed to be Low Risk Contact which means that if exposed they will be required to monitor for symptoms and get a PCR test if they develop and symptoms, but will not be required to isolate.

How does the Framework work?
When there is an exposure to an infected person then the Framework will be used to determine if the exposed person is a Close Contact, Casual Contact or Low Risk Contact.

To determine the level of contact a series of questions will need to be asked and answered.  Some of these questions are about the exposure itself (time, distance and location), some are about control measures (masks) and some about the exposed person themselves (vaccination) .

The first question is;  What was the exposure physical closeness to the infected person?  If the answer is that the person was close (less than 1.5m) then it will be considered a Level 1 Exposure.  If the answer is that the person was at a distance (more than 1.5m) then it will be considered a Level 2 Exposure.

Armed with the Level of Exposure, the second question is; Was the exposed person fully vaccinated?  In this case fully vaccinated means it has been 14 days since their second dose of vaccine.

Once the vaccination status is known then there are additional questions depending on the situation that will lead to an assessment of the level of contact

 Exposure Response Framework
The Framework is a risk matrix that provides for a variety of situations and can be expressed as a series of questions and responses.  Businesses simply answer each question and then move to the next until they have an answer.

Level 1 Exposure

Exposure to infected person up close (less than 1.5m distance)

  • Where the exposed person has been “up close” with an infected person, indoor or outdoor;
    • If the exposed person is UNVACCINATED then they will be a Close Contact
    • If the exposed person is FULLY VACCINATED (14 days after second dose) then it will depend on situation and controls;
      • If there was direct physical contact then they will be a Casual Contact
      • If there was a close conversation without masks then they will be a Casual Contact, but if they were wearing masks then they will be a Low Risk Contact
      • If there was time closer than 1.5m without masks then they will be a Casual Contact, but if they were wearing masks then they will be a Low Risk Contact

Level 2 Exposure

Exposure to infected person at a distance (more than 1.5m distance)

  • Where the exposed person has been in the same indoor space with an infected person but has maintained distance of at least 1.5m
    • If the exposed person is UNVACCINATED then it will depend on the situation and controls;
      • If there indoor space was less than 100 sqm;
        • If the exposure time was less than 1 minute without masks then they will be a Casual Contact, but if they were wearing masks then they will be a Low Risk Contact
        • If the exposure time was 1-15 minutes then they will be a Close Contact
        • If the exposure time was more than 15 minutes then they will be a Close Contact
      • If there indoor space was 100-300 sqm;
        • If the exposure time was less than 1 minute then they will be a Low Risk Contact
        • If the exposure time was 1-15 minutes then they will be a Casual Contact
        • If the exposure time was more than 15 minutes then they will be a Casual Contact
      • If there indoor space was more than 300 sqm;
        • If the exposure time was less than 1 minute then they will be a Low Risk Contact
        • If the exposure time was 1-15 minutes then they will be a Low Risk Contact
        • If the exposure time was more than 15 minutes then they will be a Low Risk Contact
    • If the exposed person is FULLY VACCINATED (14 days after second dose) then it will depend on situation and controls;
      • If there indoor space was less than 100 sqm;
        • If the exposure time was less than 1 minute then they will be a Low Risk Contact
        • If the exposure time was 1-15 minutes then they will be a Low Risk Contact
        • If the exposure time was more than 15 minutes then they will be a Casual Contact
      • If there indoor space was 100-300 sqm;
        • If the exposure time was less than 1 minute then they will be a Low Risk Contact
        • If the exposure time was 1-15 minutes then they will be a Low Risk Contact
        • If the exposure time was more than 15 minutes then they will be a Low Risk Contact
      • If there indoor space was more than 300 sqm;
        • If the exposure time was less than 1 minute then they will be a Low Risk Contact
        • If the exposure time was 1-15 minutes then they will be a Low Risk Contact
        • If the exposure time was more than 15 minutes then they will be a Low Risk Contact

Exposure Responses
As noted what is required from each type of contact is subject to current review, but for now the requirements are;

Examples
Application of the Framework to real examples makes this process clearer.

Example 1 – vaccinated staff exposed to infected customer

  • Krystal is a console operator in a retail fuel site, and one of her customers tests positive for COVID-19.  Krystal is now an exposed person.
    • The first question is was this a Level 1 or Level 2 exposure, so the question is; Did the exposed person come close (less than 1.5m) to the infected person?  The answer in this case is No, and so it is a Level 2 exposure.  Due to the width of the counter Krystal is more than 1.5m away from customers at all times, including the infected person.
    • The next question is about the exposed persons vaccination status;  Is Krystal fully vaccinated?  The answer in this case is Yes, and so the next question is about the location and exposure itself
    • The next item to consider is the size of the space that the exposure happened in;  Was the indoor space a) less than 100sqm, b) 100-300sqm or c) more than 300sqm?  The answer in this case is less than 100sqm, an so the next question is about the length of exposure (time exposed; Was the exposure a) less than a minute, b) 1-15 minutes or c) more than 15 minutes?  The answer in this case is b) 1-15 minutes
    • This gives an answer of Low Risk Contact , as such Krystal will need to monitor for symptoms and if symptoms appear she will need to get tested.

Example 2 – unvaccinated staff exposed to infected customer

  • Darren is a console operator in a retail fuel site, and one of his customers tests positive for COVID-19.  Darren is now an exposed person.
    • The first question is was this a Level 1 or Level 2 exposure, so the question is; Did the exposed person come close (less than 1.5m) to the infected person?  The answer in this case is No, and so it is a Level 2 exposure.  Due to the width of the counter Darren is more than 1.5m away from customers at all times, including the infected person.
    • The next question is about the exposed persons vaccination status;  Is Darren fully vaccinated?  The answer in this case is No, Darren only just got his second dose, and so the next question is about the location and exposure itself
    • The next item to consider is the size of the space that the exposure happened in;  Was the indoor space a) less than 100sqm, b) 100-300sqm or c) more than 300sqm?  The answer in this case is less than 100sqm, an so the next question is about the length of exposure (time exposed; Was the exposure a) less than a minute, b) 1-15 minutes or c) more than 15 minutes?  The answer in this case is a) less than a minute
    • If Darren was wearing a mask this gives an answer of Low Risk Contact , as such Darren will need to monitor for symptoms and if symptoms appear he will need to get tested.

NOTE:  If the exposure was longer than a minute and the exposed person is unvaccinated then the exposed person will be a Close Contact

Example 3 – vaccinated staff exposed to infected staff (during shift change over)

  • Amy is a console operator in a retail fuel site, and the worker who works after her tests positive for COVID-19.  Amy is now an exposed person.
    • The first question is was this a Level 1 or Level 2 exposure, so the question is; Did the exposed person come close (less than 1.5m) to the infected person?  The answer in this case is No, and so it is a Level 2 exposure.  Due to the instruction from management that shift change be kept short and for staff to ensure they keep their distance during shift change Amy is more than 1.5m away from the infected person.
    • The next question is about the exposed persons vaccination status;  Is Amy fully vaccinated?  The answer in this case is Yes, and so the next question is about the location and exposure itself
    • The next item to consider is the size of the space that the exposure happened in;  Was the indoor space a) less than 100sqm, b) 100-300sqm or c) more than 300sqm?  The answer in this case is less than 100sqm, an so the next question is about the length of exposure (time exposed; Was the exposure a) less than a minute, b) 1-15 minutes or c) more than 15 minutes?  The answer in this case is b) 1-15 minutes
    • This gives an answer of Low Risk Contact , as such Amy will need to monitor for symptoms and if symptoms appear she will need to get tested.

NOTE:  If the exposure was longer than 15 minutes and the exposed person is unvaccinated then the exposed person will be a Casual Contact

Learnings for Fuel Retail and Wholesale
In order to minimise the impact of exposures to the operation of the business fuel retail and wholesale business should;

  • Ensure staff are maintaining 1.5 meter distance from each other and customers
  • Ensure staff shift change and cross over is minimised, ideally less than 15 minutes
  • Encourage staff vaccination

“ACAPMA is pleased to have clarity on exposure response as we move towards COVID-19 as an endemic disease.  There are still questions of operation and response, including cleaning response and isolation leave and payment implications.  ACAPMA is working through these with authorities and members, and encourages members to put forward their questions now, so that we can prepare for a much welcome open economy” explained ACAPMA Executive Manager for Employment and Training, Elisha Radwanowski.

More Information

For more information see;  https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/controlguideline/Documents/contact-risk-assessment-business-community-settings.pdf

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)
ACAPMA

 

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