COVID-19: OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES IN WORKPLACES

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COVID-19: OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES IN WORKPLACES

Notice Title: Directive by the Minister of Employment and Labour in terms of Regulation 10 (8) of the regulations issued by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in terms of Section 27 (2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002)
Government Gazette Notice: GN 479 in GG 43257 of 29 April 2020
Commencing date: 29 April 2020

The Minister of Employment and Labour issued, in terms of regulation 10(8) of the Regulations issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002, a directive to provide for occupational health and safety measures to reduce and eliminate the escalation of COVID-19 infections in workplaces. The provisions of the Directive specifically apply to employers and workers involved in the manufacturing of essential goods and providers of essential services and will remain in force for duration of the National State of Disaster.

A definition of worker has been included in the Directive to ensure that all persons who in work in a workplace are protected and to locate the responsibility in respect of certain obligations imposed on the employer in respect of its employees such as an application for illness benefits or worker’s compensation. A worker is defined to mean: “any person who works in an employer’s workplace including an employee of the employer or contractor, a self-employed person or volunteer.

The Directive requires the implementation of administrative, social distancing and health and safety measures. Administrative measures include:

  • the requirement to conduct a risk assessment with specific focus on COVID-19;
  • the submission of records of these administrative measures to the Department of Labour if the employer employs more than 500 people;
  • providing workers with COVID-19 awareness information;
  • notifying workers of the contents of the Directive and the manner in which the employer intends to implement it; and
  • notifying employees that they must take paid sick leave if they sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Social distancing measures that must be implemented include reducing the number of workers on at the workplace and implementing a barrier of 1.5 metres between workers. Health and safety measures include conducting COVID-19 symptom screenings and providing hand sanitisers, washing stations, cloth masks, ventilation systems (natural and mechanical) and other personal protective equipment to workers.

There are minor relaxations for small businesses employing less than 10 people. However, these small businesses are still required to provide masks, restrict employees with symptoms from working, implement a barrier of 1.5 metres between workers, provide hand sanitisers and to regularly disinfect workstations.

For a copy of the Government Notice click here.

How can Shangoni assist with compliance?

Shangoni focus on managing operational risks and ensure that such is integrated in and aligned with hazards and unwanted events that employees and other workers may be exposed to. As such, we can assist organisation with:

  • Conducting or updating of existing risk assessment and mitigation plans to reflect the risk that COVID-19 has had on organisations. This relate to the new hazard but also how COVID-19 action plans are affecting other control measures required to manage other operational risks;
  • Developing of action and response plans (based on management of change principles) to facilitate the return to work (start-up) process;
  • Conducting occupational health and safety legal compliance audits, including compliance with these Regulations;
  • Developing of personal hygiene programme; and
  • Developing awareness material to ensure that all workers are aware of the new control measures required to maintain a safe workplace, temporary measures required to mitigate site incidents and emergencies and other aspects of the business affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

For more information or assistance please contact Corrie Potgieter at 012 807 1014 or Corrie@shangoni.co.za.

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