We have received some questions regarding the Occupational Health and Safety requirements for businesses that are allowed to operate under level 4 lockdown restrictions.  We need to stress if you can work remotely please do so.  If not please follow the information below to navigate the Covid-19 Occupational Health and Safety requirement set out by the department of labour.

All businesses that are allowed to operate during the level 4 lockdown period are required to:

  1. Appoint a Covid-19 compliance officer from within the company to implement
    • Company Covid-19 plan 
    • Ensure adherence to standards of hygiene and health procedures regarding Covid-19 at the workplace
  2. Employers must develop a plan for the phased return of staff to the workplace.  This plan must outline the employees that will return,  which employees are not permitted to return, what plans are in place in the workplace to ensure the safety of the employees and clients, as well as the details of the appointed COVID-19 compliance officer.
  3. Arrange to phase-in the return of employees to the workplace and to manage the return of employees from other provinces
  4. Develop, implement, and manage the company COVID-19 plan to ensure adherence to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.  
  5. A plan for a small business (up to 10 employees) can be very basic. Medium to larger organisation requires a more detailed plan.  Small businesses must do the following:
    • Arrange employee workspace to be at least 1.5 me apart. If this is not possible physical barriers must be installed between them.
    • Ensure employees that show symptoms are not allowed to report for work or if already at work to be sent to self-isolation.
    • Immediately contact COVID-19 hotline on 0800 029 999 and follow the instruction on how to direct the employee
    • Provide cloth masks or require an employee to wear a cloth covering over mouth and nose 
    • Provide employees with sanitizer and soap and water to sanitise the workspace and wash their hands regularly 
    • Ensure that the workspace and communal areas are sanitised regularly 
    • Perform a risk assessment and take any other measures to reduce the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus
  6. The plan for medium to large organisations must include: 
    • The date the company will reopen and the relevant working hours 
    • A detailed timetable setting out the phased-in return of employees
    • The steps taken to get the workplace COVID-19 ready
    • Detail of staff that can work remotely – staff over 60, and staff with compromised immune systems to work from home
    • Arrangements for staff at the workplace
      • Social distancing arrangements
        • An arrangement must be made to reduce contact between staff and as far as possible staff workstations need to be at least 1.5m apart from each other
        • Where it is not possible to space employees the employer is required to install barriers to form a solid barrier between workers and provide employees with protective clothing/equipment
        • Social distancing must be implemented in the workplace and all common areas
      • Sanitary arrangements
        • Employers should ensure free of charge: 
          • Each employee has sufficient hand sanitizer at entry and exit of the facility and during the day
          • For every employee that travels, sufficient hand sanitiser 
          • For each employee interacting with clients sufficient hand sanitiser at the workstation for the employee and the client 
          • All work stations and equipment should be sanitised before work begins 
          • All common areas, toilets, and shared equipment is sanitised regularly during the course of the day
          • Biometric systems are disabled or COVID-19 proof 
          • Adequate facilities for washing of hands with soap and clean water 
          • Only paper towels will be allowed for drying of hands.  Fabric towels are prohibited 
          • Workers must wash their hands continuously while at work 
          • Employees working with clients are required to sanitise their hands after each interaction with clients 
          • All surfaces are cleaned and sanitized regularly 
      • Ventilation 
        • The employer must ensure the workspace is properly ventilated either by natural ventilation or mechanical 
        • The ventilation must have a highly effective air filters 
        • Air filters must be cleaned and maintained as per manufacturer specifications. 
      • Provide cloth masks
        • Every employer must provide each employee, free of charge, with a minimum of 2 cloth masks that comply with the regulations set out by the DTI – must at least be 2 layers, must be easy to use, and must have instructions. Employees can wear one face mask at work and one to travel with. 
        • There must be a number of replaceable cloth masks. This is guided by sector guides.
        • Every employer must provide training on the correct way to use cloth masks 
        • The employer must make arrangement to ensure that the cloth masks are washed, dried and ironed in accordance with the DTI guidelines
      • Arrangements on entry and exit of the facility and screening
        • Employers should screen each employee when reporting for duty to assess if they have symptoms like – fever, cough, sore throat, redness of eyes, or shortness of breath
        • Each employee should report if they suffer from any of these additional symptoms, body aches, loss of smell or loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness   
        • If an employee shows any symptoms they must not report to work 
        • If they show symptoms while at work 
          • The employee must be isolated, given protective clothing and transported safely, without exposing anybody else, to self-isolate or to an examination center
          • Disinfect the work stations, consult employees that may have been in contact with the employee and send them for screening and take any other action to prevent any possible infection 
          • Ensure the employee is tested 
          • Place the employee on paid sick leave.  If the employee does not have paid sick leave apply for benefits with TERS
          • Ensure the employee is not discriminated against
          • If the employee contracted COVID-19 while on duty submit a claim in terms of the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Disease Act (COID) 
        • If an employee has contracted COVID-19 and isolated themself, the employee can only return to work once
          • A medical evaluation confirms that the employee has tested negative for COVID-19
          • The employee ensures personal hygiene, social distancing and wearing a mask
          • The employer monitors the employee for any signs of illness 

The most important part is that measures should be put in place to safeguard yourself, your employees, and your customers. 

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