Growers’ e-bulletin – 24 January, 2022

22 January, 2022


Facemasks in packing sheds – Queensland Health advice

COVID-19 Webinar

Feral pig baiting program restarts

Weekly Wholesale Market Price Report

AgChemical update

Hort Innovation to roll out new Australian Bananas advertising 

Facemasks in packing sheds – Queensland Health advice

The ABGC sought formal advice from Queensland Health regarding the application of the facemask mandate in packing sheds, in particular, concerns raised by some growers about the risk of workers overheating. The ABGC has also raised this issue during the recent Growcom webinars on business continuity planning.

The following is part of a response from Queensland Health:

“Mask wearing is a high-impact, low-effort public health measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and a protective measure to slow the potential for transmission of the virus. With the increased transmission of cases in the communities across the state the wearing of masks may reduce the risk of cases and close contacts being identified in the business.

There are exemptions under the Public Health Face Mask Requirements Direction (No. 4) here, including:

– for whom wearing a face mask would create any other serious risk to that person’s life or health and safety, including if determined through work Occupational Health and Safety guidelines (example – a person who is undertaking work where a mask could become tangled in machinery). 

A risk assessment undertaken by the employer is expected to be carried out if relying on this exemption and the expectation would be that other controls in relation to excessive heat are already implemented. 

Note that the Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (Qld) (WHSA) places a primary duty on a person conducting a business or undertaking (owner) to, so far as is reasonably practicable ensure the health and safety of workers who are engaged or influenced by them.  They are also required to eliminate risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable; and if it is not, to minimise them. This is a well-established and nationally consistent approach. 

In relation to this situation, if the employer or the employee considers that working in a hot/enclosed environment and having to wear a mask is a hazard to the extent that masks can’t be worn, clearly the employer has a responsibility to manage it as above. This will involve undertaking a risk assessment and putting in place effective controls (eg. not wearing a mask and seeking alternative solution). Worksafe Qld’s guidance on managing risk includes the keeping of risk assessment records. Please refer to WorkSafe Queensland for additional information for employers, see for example about planning for heat stress.

Note that if a person removes their face mask under an exemption, the person must resume wearing the face mask as soon as practicable after the circumstances of the exemption ends.

There is no requirement for a specific approval to be obtained by the employer if relying on the exemptions listed in the Direction but as stated above, records of how the risk assessment was conducted and what controls that will be used must be kept and if required, is expected to be shown to an emergency officer (public health).”

COVID-19 Webinar

Growcom, with the support of Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries experts, will deliver a webinar on risk mitigation in the face of COVID-19.

The webinar will be held on Tuesday (25 January) from 12pm to 1pm. Registrations are essential here

It will discuss:

  • What do you do in the real world to manage and protect your staff against COVID-19? 
  • What are the tools you can use to keep staff safe from COVID-19? 
  • If we have someone unvaccinated staff at work, how do we assess the risk (and reasonable measures to reduce this) for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people

Experts from Safe Food Production Queensland will be available.

It is the final of a three-part series on business continuity planning. 

Recordings of the first two webinars can be found here 

Feral Pig Bating Program Restarts

The Cassowary Coast feral pig bating program has restarted.

Bait is available for those that have registered and meet all the requirements. Growers can contact the Cassowary Coast Regional Council to participate by emailing

Due to staff shortages and restrictions with COVID-19, bait can only be collected from the Tully depot at this stage. Council is working on restoring this service to Innisfail.

Landholders participating in the baiting program must abide by new Queensland Department of Health regulations for use of restricted Schedule 7 poisons including 1080. Read more here

Weekly Wholesale Market Price Report 

A reminder that the ABGC commenced buying and reporting Wholesale Market Prices on a weekly basis in December. These are available here 

AgChemical Update

The December 2021 AgChemical Update and the updated Banana Regulatory Risk Assessment are now available.

They can be downloaded from the Hort Innovation website here

These reports are produced as part of the Hort Innovation funded project Regulatory support and response coordination (MT20007).

Hort Innovation to roll out new Australian Bananas advertising 

Hort Innovation will launch new Australian Bananas advertising in the market from 30 January. 

An overview of the new advertising will be shared with member growers next week.