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Requirements for a safe level 4 work environment | WJvR Inc

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE COVID-19 OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES IN WORKPLACES ISSUED BY THE MINISTER OF EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR ON 28 APRIL 2020

One the 28th of April Minister of Employment and Labour, T.W. Nzesi, announced health and safety measures that will be applicable to all industries and workplaces that are allowed to open on Level 4 of the National Covid-19 Lockdown. These regulations will remain in force for as long as the Declaration of a National Disaster, published in the Government Gazette 43096 on 15 March 2020, remains in force.

In relation to these measures an Employer has certain obligations towards their Employees. These measures include:

ADMINISTRATIVE MEASURES:

  • The Employer must undertake a risk assessment to determine what measures will need to be implemented to ensure the health and safety of their employees and the circumstances of the workplace.
  • If the Employer has a staff of more than 500 employees, the Employer must submit a record of the risk assessment together with a written policy covering the protection measures for their employees to:
    • The companies Health and Safety committee established in terms of Section 19 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act,
    • The Department of Employment and Labour.
  • Employees who are sick should not report to work and will have to be requested to take paid sick leave.
  • The Employer must appoint a manager who will be responsible for the screening, testing, admission and queries of all Employees.
  • Employees must be informed at all times and Employers must ensure that the measures set out in their Risk Management plan are adhered to at all times.
  • Ensure that not more than one-third of the Employers workforce is present at the workplace at any time.
  • Measures must be taken to minimize the contact between Employees and the public.
  • Informative signs must be made visible at all workplaces, were applicable leaflets must be provided to Employees to inform them of the virus and health and Safety practises.
  • If any Employee is tested positive for Covid-19 the Employer must report this to the Department of Health and the Department of Employment and Labour. The Employer must also re-evaluate their risk management plan to accommodate the breach and prevent further spread of the virus.

SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES:

  • Social distancing of 1,5m must be implemented between all workers at all times where it is practicable.
  • It the above social distancing measure is not practicable then barriers must be provided to be placed between work stations and appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) must be provided to all Employees.
  • Employers must ensure that social distancing measures are implemented in all areas of the workplace including canteens and lavatories.

HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES


• Symptom screening:

  • The Employer must;
    • Screen every Employee when they report for work and when they leave work. Check for a fewer above 37.5®C, consistent cough, sore throat, red eyes and shortness of breath.
    • Require an Employee to report any of the above symptoms as well as the following symptoms; body aches, loss of smell or loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness.
  • Employers must comply with all regulations issued by the National Department of Health and Department of Employment and Labour in respect of symptoms screening and testing.
  • If an Employee presents with Covid-19 symptoms
    • The Employee may not enter the work premises.
    • If the Employee is already at work then the Employee must;
      • Isolate the Employee immediately and provide them with PPE.
      • Arrange for the Employee to be transported to the nearest testing facility.
      • Access, clean and disinfect the area where the Employee was present.
      • Place Employee on paid sick leave. If sick leave is exhausted an application for an illness benefit in terms of the Covid-19 Temporary Employer Relief Scheme should be made.
      • No Employee may be discriminated against if they test positive for Covid-19.
      • If an Employee contracts the Covid-19 virus while performing their duties then a claim may be lodged in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.
      • If an Employee tested positive for Covid-19 and was isolated that Employee may only be allowed to return to work if they can prove that they are negative for Covid-19 and received permission from a medical practitioner. The Employer must ensure that all health and safety regulations are complied with and the employer must closely monitor the Employee for any recurrence of symptoms.

• Sanitizers, disinfectants and other measures:

  • Only hand sanitizer with an alcohol level of 70% will be permitted.
  • The Employer must ensure that there is adequate hand sanitizer for all the employees as well as for any person from the public entering the workplace.
  • The Employee must also provide any Employee who works away from the workplace and not at home with adequate hand sanitizer.
  • Employers must ensure that all workstations are cleaned and disinfected before the start of the working day, during the working day and at the end of the working day.
  • All areas such as toilets, common areas, door handles and shared electronic equipment are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • All biometric systems must be disabled or be made Covid-19 proof.
  • Ensure that there are proper sanitizing agents in all restrooms including hand soap and disposable hand towels. No use of fabric hand towels may be permitted.
  • Request the Employees to sanitize and wash there hands on a regular basis.
  • Employees interacting with members of the public are required to sanitize their hands after every interaction.
  • Surfaces that the public comes into contact with must be cleaned regularly.

• Cloth Masks:

  • Mask cloths are to prevent the spread of the virus from people who are unaware that they have the virus or who does not show symptoms.
  • The Employer must provide every Employee with a minimum of two cloth masks, free of charge.
  • Require Employees to wear masks in the workplace.
  • The number of masks provided to Employees will depend on the sector of work and the Employee’s conditions of work.
  • Employers must educate their workforce and communicate regularly about the use of cloth masks.
  • An employer must make arrangements for the washing of Employees masks.

• Measures in respect of workplaces to which the public have access:

  • Employers must ensure that there is at least 1.5m space between an Employee and a member of the public.
  • Put in place physical barriers, face shields or visors for the Employee’s.
  • Undertake symptom screens for any member of public entering the workplace.
  • Display notices at the workplace encouraging members of the public entering the workplace to give their assistance and to inform the public what regulations are in place.
  • Require members from public, suppliers or any other person entering the workplace to wear a mask.

• Ventilation:

  • Employers must keep the workplace well ventilated by natural or mechanical means.
  • Ensure that filter systems are cleaned and maintained properly according to the manufacturing instructions by a competent person.

• Personal Protection Equipment (PPE):

  • Employers must consult regularly with websites of the National Department of Health as well as the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and the National Institute of Occupational Health for any further guidelines and requirement s for PPE’s.

MONITORING AND ENFORCING THE DIRECTIVE:

  • An inspector designated in terms of Section 28 of OHSA may perform any function under Section 29 of OHSA and exercise any of the powers listed in Section 30 of OHSA in order to monitor compliance with this Directive.
  • Not complying with these directives constitutes a contravention of an obligation or prohibition under OHSA, the offences and penalties provided for Section 38 of OHSA apply.
  • An inspector may advise Employers and Employees of their rights and obligations in terms of the National directive.

SECTORIAL GUIDELINES:

  • A chief inspector must be appointed in terms of Section 27 of the OHSA.
  • This inspector must facilitate all sector specific guidelines to supplement the directive handed down by the Minister of Employment and Labour.
  • Specific health regulations of specialised industries may overrule the health and safety measures set out in the Minister’s Directive.


Article by Henry Jacobs (Professional Assistant)

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