Kathryn Lewis

Canberra Airport security guard stood down as investigation is underway | The Canberra Times

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A Canberra Airport employee has been stood down from work and is at the centre of an investigation after raising concerns he wasn’t told about a COVID-19 case that passed through the terminal last month. Two security guards wrote to the Canberra Airport Group on October 15 saying they hadn’t been told about the positive case before it was made public. This prompted their employer Certis Security to remove them from shifts and launch an investigation into their actions. Certis Security and Canberra Airport say all staff members were notified of the case and potential risks immediately. The workers, who are health and safety representatives, wrote the letter after ACT Health released the information that a woman with COVID-19 had transitted through the airport on October 7. They requested information about the incident under the Work Health and Safety Act, saying security officers had not been informed and asked for clarification on cleaning procedures, whether other staff members had been told and when Canberra Airport found out. Airport contractor Certis Security has since launched an investigation alleging the men did not follow correct procedure by taking the matter to the airport first. United Workers Union ACT spokeswoman Lyndal Ryan said Certis made a kneejerk reaction and claimed the workers had been threatened by their employer for “daring to ask questions about a COVID-19 case who attended their work”. “It is every worker’s right to be safe in their workplace, and the act gives health and safety representatives wide powers to ensure their workplaces are safe,” Ms Ryan said. “Yet when these elected representatives even dare to request facts relevant to their health and safety – after being deprived of those facts by their own employer – the kneejerk reaction is stand downs and formal interviews.” In a letter to the airport workers seen by The Canberra Times, Certis Security alleged the employees had flouted correct reporting processes by taking their concern straight to Canberra Airport Group, not Certis, and had misrepresented another staff member’s role. A Certis Security spokeswoman said one employee had been stood down as he assisted the investigation and the other was not working They will both attend a meeting with the employer on Monday afternoon and are expected to return to work soon after. She said workers were free to raise safety issues but must follow procedure to do so. “Upon becoming aware of a COVID-19 positive passenger transiting through Canberra Airport, all employees were informed within the appropriate timeframe,” the spokeswoman said. “Certis Security Australia has put a range of measures in place to provide a safe working environment. We provide all required personal protective equipment including gloves, hand sanitisers and face masks to all employees. “Certis Security Australia is still reviewing the letter in question and will respond to the safety concerns raised.” A spokeswoman for Canberra Airport said all staff and contractors had been notified immediately of the coronavirus case. “Upon becoming aware of a COVID-19 positive passenger transiting through Canberra Airport, we worked closely with ACT Health as the lead agency, as well as the affected airline, to review and manage the risk,” she said. “We immediately notified all staff, tenants and contractors that may have been in the proximity of the passenger.”

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