Information about COVID-19

Information for the energy sector

The NSW Government is working closely with operators across the State’s energy generation and networks industry to ensure the continued supply of energy to the people of NSW during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a developing situation and the response taken by the NSW Government to COVID-19 may change over time.

Essential energy services continue

Public health orders have been issued to protect the community and reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection. A list of public health orders currently in force is on the NSW Legislation website. The list will be updated progressively.

Despite public health orders listing restrictions to activities and places that are closed, the energy industry is essential to keeping our communities functioning.

You can still go to work in the energy industry if you cannot work from home.

Under the latest order for Stage 3 isolation, no formal letters are required for intra-state travel to essential work.

To cross State borders, workers will need to comply with any relevant directions or orders issued by the jurisdiction they are entering. At this time, there are no specific requirements when re-entering NSW.

As is recommended in normal circumstances, if entering facilities or household premises to conduct essential work, you may wish to carry identification, wear a uniform or carry a letter from your employer to help the community and authorities identify your role as an energy worker.

Support functions for the energy industry, such as customer call centres, mines and transport operations supplying the State’s generators, are considered essential to maintaining energy sector services.

Worker health and safety

Under the model work health and safety laws, employers must have measures in place to eliminate or manage risks arising from COVID-19.

Such measures include providing workers with appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and eye protection, and information and training on how and why they are required to use them.

While SafeWork NSW advises that employers may not be able to completely eliminate the risk of workers contracting COVID-19 while carrying out work, they must do all that is reasonably practicable to minimise that risk. Operators should keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 information and advice from SafeWork NSW to ensure that any action taken is appropriate.

Further information on worker health and safety can be found on SafeWorks website.

Extra measures for critical staff

Additional measures for consideration include advising critical workers such as control room staff to avoid using public transport and conducting infrared temperature checks at the commencement of each shift.

Precautions when working at high-risk facilities or premises

If work is required in a high risk area such as a hospital, aged care facility or a household where people are in enforced self-isolation, you should call ahead to advise you will be attending on site and to enquire about protective measures that may be needed. It may be possible to avoid the visit by first discussing issues being experienced on the phone. If the visit is still required, facilities and households can prepare for your visit by sanitising the area and/or equipment prior to your arrival.

On arrival at a facility you should wait to be escorted into the premises by a staff member. The facility staff can give guidance on relevant protective measures needed for that facility. For a household, try to avoid entering the premises if possible. Where this cannot be avoided, ask the residents to remain in another room while the work is carried out.

Critical energy operations centres

Consider treating critical operational centres as an isolated space by restricting access to critical operational staff only.

At the end of each shift, operational staff could clean and disinfect the workspace to reduce risk of contaminant introduction by cleaning staff.

Where multiple control rooms exist as a redundancy measure, consider assigning dedicated staff to each area to reduce risk of contamination between control rooms and staff.

Supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline energy workers

NSW Police Force is leading state-wide procurement of PPE, along with health and hygiene products. Their first step is to determine existing stockpiles and expedite the fulfilment of orders already in place.

All new purchase orders will be approved by the NSW Police Commissioner.

As goods will be distributed based on priority and need, with health and frontline workers prioritised, the energy sector should continue to seek PPE through its normal supply chains. could clean and disinfect the workspace to reduce risk of contaminant introduction by cleaning staff.

Where multiple control rooms exist as a redundancy measure, consider assigning dedicated staff to each area to reduce risk of contamination between control rooms and staff.

Energy sector PPE needs that cannot be fulfilled via normal supply chains are being collected and included for consideration in this whole-of-government approach to securing and distributing PPE.

Please continue to advise us of your needs by emailing us at EES.COVID [at] environment.nsw.gov.au.

Priority COVID-19 testing for frontline energy workers

Current testing priorities for COVID-19 are suspected cases who are returned travellers and/or people in a high-risk setting (eg an aged care facility, healthcare facility or a local area with elevated community transmission risks). As testing capacity increases, further testing prioritisation may occur.

The NSW Government recognises that frontline energy staff are essential to maintaining services that are vital for the preservation of human life.

Where urgent testing is required for suspected COVID-19 cases within critical operational staff at key energy industry facilities, please email us at EES.COVID [at] environment.nsw.gov.au.

NSW Health is issuing daily updates on COVID-19 statistics, including the location of additional COVID clinics.

Identifying high risk areas

The latest COVID-19 statistical information, including confirmed cases by local health district and Local Government Area and the likely source of infection of confirmed cases reported in NSW, can be viewed on the NSW Health website.

Prioritisation of additional sites for power restoration

Hotels utilised for quarantine purposes and venues established as temporary hospitals / clinics may need to be prioritised for the purposes of power restoration. Details of these sites are not being publicly distributed. If you consider you need access to this information, please email us at EES.COVID [at] environment.nsw.gov.au.

Business forecasting and continuity plans

Consider identifying alternate backup options for key control centres and sites; for example backup control rooms and storage of critical equipment for operations in segregated locations.

Other suggested precautions include assessing supply chain risks against current inventories of supply and fuel, and checking that, where applicable, overseas call centres and key contractors are adopting appropriate COVID-19 measures.

Consider regular updates and verification of business continuity plans based on the most up to date information provided by relevant authorities, ensuring they are valid if the COVID-19 event continues for more than an 18-month period.

Frequently asked questions

Can I still go to work?

Yes. You can still go to work in the energy industry if you cannot work from home. Travel throughout NSW and across state borders is permitted for energy workers. All overseas travel is currently banned, with few exceptions.

Do I need to carry a letter from my company saying I am an essential worker?

At this time, no formal letters are required to travel to work within NSW or when entering NSW from another state or territory.

As is recommended in normal circumstances, if in the course of conducting work you’re entering facilities or household premises, it is advisable that you carry identification, wear a uniform or carry a letter from your employer to help the community and authorities identify your role as an energy worker.

Will I be prioritised for testing?

Where urgent testing is required for suspected COVID-19 cases within critical operational staff at key energy industry facilities, please email us at EES.COVID [at] environment.nsw.gov.au.

Will I be prioritised for use of available PPE?

PPE will be distributed based on priority and need, with health and frontline workers prioritised. The energy sector should continue to seek PPE through its normal supply chains. Please continue to advise us of your needs that cannot be filled via normal supply chains by emailing EES.COVID [at] environment.nsw.gov.au.

If I work in a call centre am I considered an essential worker?

Yes. Workers in support functions such as call centres can still travel for work where they cannot work from home.

Key contacts

Service NSW - for information and advice for NSW businesses, visit the Service NSW website.

Health - follow the COVID-19 health advice at the NSW Health website.

Worker health and safety - follow SafeWork NSW advice from their website.