Businesses need to comply with these occupational health and safety measures in order to operate.
On Thursday 4 June, Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi released directives around the new occupational health and safety measures for lockdown level 3, which commenced on Monday 1 June.
In order to operate during lockdown level 3, South African businesses have to comply with these new regulations.
“In the period since the issuing of the [original] guidelines, a clearer picture has emerged about Covid-19 and the nature of the hazard and risk in the workplace and the precautions that should be taken to minimise the risk,” the Minister said in the directive’s preamble.
“The purpose of these directions is to stipulate measures that must be taken by employers in order to protect the health and safety of workers and members of the public who enter their workplaces or are exposed to their working activities.”
The directive required the development of a full workplace plan outlining the protective measures in place for the phased return of its employees before opening, including:
- The date that the workplace will open and the hours of opening;
- A list of employees permitted to return to work and those who are required to work from home;
- The plan and timetable for the phased-in return of employees to the workplace;
- Identify vulnerable employees;
- Ways of minimising the number of workers at the workplace at any one time;
- The measures for the daily screening of employees and the screening of clients, contractors and visitors to the workplace;
- The details of the Covid-19 compliance officer.
Businesses are also required to take a number of administrative measures, including:
- It must take special measures to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 for vulnerable employees – including people over 60 and/or with comorbidities;
- It must notify all workers of the contents of this Direction and the manner in which it intends to implement it;
- It must notify its employees that if they are sick or have symptoms associated with Covid-19 that they must not come to work and to take paid sick leave in terms of section 22 of the BCEA;
- It must, as far as practicable, minimise the number of workers at the workplace at any given time through rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, remote working arrangements or similar measures;
- It must inform the Department of Health if an employee contacts Covid-19 and determine the need to temporarily close the affected work area for decontamination.
The right social distancing measures must also be put in place in the workplace to ensure minimal contact between workers. There needs to be a minimum of one and a half metres between workers while they are working.
Every employer also needs to screen employees coming into work for Covid-19 symptoms on a daily basis.
Other key considerations in the directive include:
- Guidelines around sanitisers and the provision of masks;
- Rules around the ventilation of offices;
- Specific measures for workplaces which are open to the public;
- Specific measures for workplaces which have fewer than 10 employees;
- Rules around workplace inspections by the Department of Labour.