In this edition: COVID and the Queensland Water Sector| Intelligent Water Networks (Victoria) Industry Conference open to qldwater – 8 February 2022| Environmental Protection Agency Consultation Begins| Discussion Paper – Aligning Definitions of Recycled Water in Queensland| TAFE Job Vacancy
As of December 2021, Queensland’s borders were opened to interstate travellers including from COVID-19 “hotspots” and the Qld Government and Chief Health Officer are regularly reporting that COVID-19 infection will increased markedly in Queensland. This means that regional councils may need to manage COVID-19 infections in the workplace and there is a potential to impact the water and sewerage sector particularly where staffing levels are already stretched.
qldwater has updated the information sheet on seeking relief operators where water or sewerage service providers are short-staffed (click here). This includes some information on dealing with suspected detections among staff but Qld Government rules are changing rapidly and we have not yet been able to locate clear guidance like this useful NSW factsheet. Current Qld arrangements leading into the new year are summarised below.
The opening of the Queensland border changed the entry requirements for specialist and essential workers likely including many contractors and specialist technicians that service WSPs. The requirements include a “Quarantine Management Plan” that outlines the actions that must be taken to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 while they are conducting their essential work. The worker must also meet the general quarantine requirements, which have been recently updated and are different for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers, and those entering by road or by air.
The management directives for close contacts, secondary contacts and casual and low-risk contacts determine how workers may be impacted. There is as yet no recognition as essential workers for our sector and the current requirements are subject to change.
Queensland Health has indicated that a person’s vaccination status can make a difference to their status as a contact in a workplace and this can affect quarantine requirements. ‘Vaccinated’ means a person who has had two doses of vaccine with 7 days since their second dose.
It is now possible for all adults in Queensland to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but vaccination rates vary across regional Queensland communities. Many water and sewerage operators are frequently vaccinated for water borne diseases (e.g. Hepatitis A and B) so it is anticipated that the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine amongst water industry workers will be higher than background community rates. Some employers have added COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of entry to their worksites arguing that it is a higher order risk control than administrative and PPE controls as they are subject to behaviour and error and require constant attention.
Even in the absence of illness, quarantine requirements impact availability of workers regardless of their vaccination status. The requirements are changing from the 1 January as follows.
Low risk casual contact
Vaccinated close contacts
Requirements for un-vaccinated close contacts from 1 January 2022:
After all the restrictions of the last few years, it will be fantastic to get together and share innovations we are working on for the Victorian water industry.
Join us in Melbourne's CBD, where we will showcase the technologies of tomorrow that we are exploring today. The conference will be a great chance to meet and catch up with others from across our industry. You will also be inspired by a special guest speaker, hear from industry leaders and see demonstrations from leading technology companies.
9am-4:30pm, 8 February 2022 at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium
To view the full program and register click here.
Please note: This conference is for staff at VicWater, DELWP and Victoria's water corporations (and there is no cost to attend). The IWN has kindly offered the opportunity to participate virtually to qldwater members.
If you would like to attend virtually instead, please register here. You can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, including about accessibility. We will work with you to make sure you can access the event.
The Palaszczuk Government has begun public consultation on the establishment of an independent environmental regulator in Queensland.
Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the launch of public consultation into the formation of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was an important election commitment.
“We made an election commitment to investigate and consult on the establishment of an independent Environmental Protection Agency to protect our environment, provide greater investment certainty, and support economic recovery,” Minister Scanlon said.
“Queensland is the only state in Australia without an external independent Environmental Protection Agency.
“We want to hear from Queenslanders about what they think when it comes to an environmental protection agency.
“The survey is quick and easy and open to all Queenslanders who have a view on environmental protection. Submissions will be used to inform future decisions around a potential independent EPA.
“The survey has eight questions and takes around five minutes to complete and will close in February 2022.”
The survey and summary form part of a broader program of consultation the Department is conducting between November and March.
“Targeted consultation activities are occurring with key Queensland industry, environmental and community stakeholders,” Minister Scanlon said.
“Research and modelling are underway, investigating best-practice approaches both nationally and internationally.”
Further information on the proposal for an independent EPA for Queensland, including links to the survey, is available at www.qld.gov.au/epaconsultation
This discussion paper was prepared by qldwater on behalf of the Sewerage and Water Environmental Advisory Panel (SWEAP). It outlines regulation of recycled water in Queensland and recommends minor clarifications to often overlapping regulatory requirements for Water and Sewerage Service Providers. This alignment is needed both to improve management and reporting and to increase the likelihood of safe water recycling.
The inconsistencies in definitions relevant to Queensland WSPs can be overcome without legislative change through adherence to the recommended interpretations and agreement on a common classification for intended uses as proposed.
The paper can be downloaded here.
TAFE Queensland (Skillstech) is looking for teachers in water operations…
If you have specialised expertise in areas of drinking water and wastewater treatment and a desire to impart your extensive industry knowledge to students, then we would like to hear from you!
As a TAFE Teacher you can help influence the careers of future tradespersons by delivering resources in a face-to-face, practical environment, and by mentoring distance students. We are looking for someone who is flexible, innovative and adaptable to the changing demands of training markets and industry needs, with the capability to design training and assessment resources for our diverse range of students.
To become a TAFE Queensland teacher you must hold one of the following qualifications (or demonstrate a commitment to obtain before commencement):
*For those holding a TAE40110 these two additional units are required to be obtained to meet compliance requirements.
Highly Desirable Requirements
To apply for this position, please include a cover letter outlining your suitability for the role, a current resume, copies of relevant qualifications and contact details for two (2) referees.
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