Lockdown Level 3 - Employer Health and Safety Restrictions and Rules
Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, is clear in his instructions to business owners on how to protect the health and safety of everyone in the workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with only 176 health and safety inspectors countrywide, what isn’t as clear is how compliance regulations will be enforced. It’s, therefore, no wonder that the Labour Department’s chief inspector, Tibor Szana, is asking trade unions and workers to report employers for failing to introduce Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act measures in the workplace - a move which has already met with some degree of success.
The Government is adopting a no-nonsense attitude towards business owners who fail to meet Covid-19 risk-free measures in the workplace. Those found guilty will not only face hefty fines but also run the risk of having their businesses closed down.
Industries reopening at the end of May when the country goes to Level 3 lockdown must adhere to current restrictions and rules. The best way to avoid falling foul of the law is to work with daily checklists, according to OHS specialist, MAKROSAFE . The consultancy, which helps thousands of businesses to remain compliant with the OHS Act, has developed a Back to Work Prevention Kit that will help employers in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
The dilemma facing business owners is the fact that Covid-19 rules and regulations can be changed at any given time. By downloading and implementing the Back to Work Covid-19 Prevention Kit, employers can keep abreast of new developments which MAKROSAFE and SafetyWallet updates daily and ensure a risk-free working environment by using the daily checklists.
Image by Unsplashed - Matt Smart
Be Vigilant or Face the Consequences
Business owners will have to be vigilant in their approach to health and safety measures or face the frightening consequences of being charged with a criminal offence. With trade unionists and their own workforce alert to any Covid-19 safety failures, employers face hefty fines or the possibility of having their workplace shut down by the Department of Labour inspectors. The Labour Department has also warned that it will not hesitate to lay criminal charges against employers who contravene Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.
More than a million people returned to work when pandemic restrictions were lifted to Level Four at the beginning of May. Far more than that will return to the workplace when Level Three starts at the end of May. The president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has also warned that while Covid-19 measures have helped to flatten the curve, infection rates will rise when more people return to work. This makes adherence to pandemic health and safety measures all the more important.
The Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, has said that businesses that are reopening must put health and safety measures in place before resuming work. He said the process begins with workplace risk assessments and a clear plan of action to implement Government rules and regulations.
Plan of Action
The Covid-19 plan of action includes:
- Keeping workers informed of rules and regulations and methods of implementation
- Instructing sick employees to stay at home and to grant them sick leave or to apply for Covid-19 TERS benefits
- Appointing a manager from within the existing workforce to handle concerns of employees and workplace representatives
- Prevent transmission by minimising contact between workers and the public
- Reducing the number of workers on the premises by introducing shift work
- Educating employees about the risks of Covid-19 transmission
- Reporting outbreaks of Covid-19 at the workplace to the Departments of Health and of Employment and Labour
- Supporting any Department of Health contact tracing measures
- Introducing social distancing of at least 1.5 metres between workers or erecting physical barriers
- Providing workers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) free of charge
- Daily screening of workers for symptoms of the coronavirus when reporting for work
- Educating workers that they will be contravening the OHS Act if they fail to report showing symptoms or feel ill while at work
- Providing hand sanitizers, facilities for handwashing with soap and clean water and disposable paper towels
- Cleaning and disinfecting work surfaces and equipment in common areas
- Ensuring that workers wear face masks at all times when on the premises
- Keeping up-to-date with recommendations from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the National Institute for Occupational Health on preventative transmission steps
MAKROSAFE’s free Prevention Kit is worth R15,000 and can be downloaded and used by any business owner, without obligation. It is the OHS consultancy’s gift to the country to help business resume operations without fear of contravening their OHS responsibilities.
Together with the Prevention Kit, MAKROSAFE and SafetyWallet offers business owners a free 20-minute online consultation to help answer any of their questions and to assist them with a risk-free Covid-19 plan of action. The following information is contained in the kit:
- Covid-19 Policy
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Policy
- Testing and screening employees to comply with COVID-19 Policy
- Working from Home Policy
- Working from Home Risk Assessment
- Risk Assessment for travelling between the workplace using public transport
- Assessing the workplace risks of exposure to infectious diseases
- Workplace Readiness after Lock
- Control measures Guidelines
- E-Learning - managing infectious diseases (Covid-19) in the workplace
- Induction Booklet
- Toolbox Talks
- Awareness Posters
- Daily Mandatory Checklist
According to the managing director of MAKROSAFE, Leon van der Walt, the Covid-19 pandemic is hugely disruptive to the daily lives of all South Africans, including the workplace and the economy. “As an OHS service provider, we recognise our duty and responsibility to support health and safety in industry and commerce to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace.” He confirmed that the contents of the Prevention Kit are updated every 24 hours to help employers stay ahead of any changes to Covid-19 policy.
MAKROSAFE COVID-19 Safety Posters are available as part of downloadable - "Back to work prevention kit"
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