Qantas has been ordered to improve how it cleans its aircraft after a workplace safety inspection found the airline could be putting workers and passengers at risk of catching infectious diseases including coronavirus.
SafeWork NSW issued the airline with an improvement notice on February 26, after an inspector found that workers or passengers could be put at risk due its "inadequate system of work used to clean planes that may have transported passengers with an infectious disease".
SafeWork NSW has ordered the airline to consult with a health specialist to develop a system specifically to deal with COVID-19Credit:Kate Geraghty
The safety breach notice, seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, says that the inspector witnessed cleaners wiping over multiple plane tray tables with the same cloth without using disinfectant, and cleaning "unknown liquids" on floors and surfaces.
The inspector witnessed cleaners on the aircraft handling wet and used tissues, used face masks and soiled nappies, and workers told the safety watchdog they occasionally had to clean up vomit and blood.
"[Personal protective equipment] was not mandated for the majority of these tasks", the notice says.
There have been multiple confirmed cases of people carrying COVID-19 on flights to and within Australia, including on a Qantas jet.
SafeWork NSW ordered Qantas to develop and maintain a "safe system of work" for cleaning aircraft to minimise the risk of workers and other people catching infectious diseases, including COVID-19, by March 30.
It also ordered the airline to consult with a health specialist to develop a system specifically to deal with COVID-19, and recommended that it minimise cleaners’ exposure to tissues, facemasks and nappies by having passengers dispose of their own waste.
Qantas has been contacted for comment.
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