WHAT HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIREMENTS DO I NEED TO BE AWARE OF IF I AM REOPENING MY BUSINESS UNDER ALERT LEVEL 4?

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Published: May 4, 2020

All businesses that are permitted to operate under Alert Level 4 need to be aware of the following:

 

GENERAL MEASURES
  • Everybody needs to wear a cloth face mask when in a public place or have their nose and mouth covered with a similar item.
  • Everybody needs to wear a cloth face mask or similar item when using any form of public transport or entering a building or premises.
  • An employer must provide every employee who may come into direct contact with members of the public as part of their duties with a cloth face mask or similar item to cover their nose and mouth.
  • Every business premises must:
    • Determine their area of floor space in square metres;
    • Determine the number of customers and employees that may be inside at any time with adequate space (one person per one and a half metres of floor space) available;
    • Take steps to ensure that people queuing inside or outside the premises are able to maintain a distance of one and a half metres from each other;
    • Provide hand sanitiser for use by the public and employees at the entrance to the premises; and
    • Assign a compliance employee (in writing) who must ensure compliance with all necessary health and safety requirements and measures;
    • All employers must adopt measures to promote the physical distancing of employees, including
      • Enabling work from home or minimising the need for employees to be physically present at the workplace;
      • Providing adequate space;
      • Restricting face to face meetings;
      • Special measures for employees with known or disclosed heath issues or comorbidities, or with any conditions that can place them at a higher risk of complications or death if they are infected with COVID-19
    • All courier and delivery services must provide for minimized personal contact during delivery.
Toolkits to assist businesses can be found here

 

Businesses, Industries and entities permitted to operate under Alert Level 4 must:
  • Designate a COVID-19 compliance officer who will oversee the implementation of a plan for the phased-in return of employees and adherence to hygiene and health protocols relating to COVID-19 at the workplace.
  • The plan for the phased-in return of employees needs to be developed prior to reopening of the workplace for business and must correspond to the example set out in the box below and must be kept for inspections.
    • The plan needs to contain the following information
      • Employees that are permitted to work
      • Plans for the phased-in return of employees to the workplace
      • Health protocols that are in place to protect employees from COVID-19
      • Details of the COVID-19 compliance officer
    • Phase in the return of employees to work to manage their return from other provinces, metropolitan and district areas.
    • Develop measures to ensure that the workplace meets the standards of health protocols, adequate space for employees and social distancing measures as required for the public and service providers.

 

WORKPLACE PLANS (“ANNEXURE E”)

A COVID-ready Workplace Plan must be developed prior to the reopening of an enterprise employing persons or serving the public.

For small businesses, the plan can be basic, reflecting the size of the business.  While medium and larger businesses, a more detailed written plan should be developed given the larger number of persons at the workplace.

The plan for medium and large businesses must include the following:

  1. The date the business will open and the hours of opening;
  2. The timetable setting out the phased return-to-work of employees, to enable appropriate measures to be taken to avoid and reduce the spread of the virus in the Workplace;
  3. The steps to be taken to get the Workplace COVID-19 ready;
  4. A list of staff who can work from home:
    • staff who are 60 years or older;
    • staff with comorbidities who will be required to stay at home or work from home
  5. Arrangement for staff in the establishment:
    • sanitary and social distancing measures and facilities at the entrance and exit to the Workplace
    • screening facilities and systems
    • the attendance-record system and infrastructure
    • the work-area of employees
    • any designated area where the public is served
    • canteen and bathroom facilities
    • testing facilities (for establishments with more than 500 employees)
    • staff rotational arrangements (for establishments where fewer than 100% of employees are permitted to work).

 

This is set out in the Disaster Management Regulations issued on 29 April 2020, available here.

 

Looking for PPE equipment for your business and staff.  Find a range of suppliers and products on PPE Marketplace. Click here to view.

 

In addition, most businesses need to comply with the COVID-19 Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Workplaces (C19 OHS) Directive published by the Department of Labour on 29 April 2020 and available here.

Directive in Respect of Hygienic Workplace Conditions (C19 OHSA):

What are the identified workplace hazards that this directive aims to address?

• Workers face the transmission of COVID-19 by an infected person in the workplace
• In workplaces to which the public has access, the hazard includes the transmission of the virus by members of the public

Each situation requires special measures to be implemented by employers in order to prevent the transmission of the virus.

To which employers, does this Directive apply?

This Directive applies to employers and workers in any workplace permitted to continue or commence operations.

This Directive does not apply to workplaces

• Excluded from the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA);
• In which medical and health care services as defined in the Disaster Management Regulations are performed (other than retail pharmacies)
• In respect of which another Minister has issued a directive under those Regulations dealing with health and safety.

Administrative Measures that Employers need to Implement

1. Undertake a risk assessment
2. If more than 500 employers, submit a record of risk assessment plus a written COVID-19 health and safety policy (per sec 7(1) of the OHSA) to –
• health and safety committee
• The Department of Employment and Labour
3. Notify all workers of the contents of the C19 OHS Directive and how your business will implement it;
4. Notify all employees that if they are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 they must not come to work and need to take paid sick leave;
5. Appoint a manager to address employee or workplace representative concerns and to keep them informed and consult with the health and safety committee (where a committee has been elected);
6. Ensure compliance with C19 OHS Directive and risk assessment plan;
7. As far as practicable, minimize the number of workers at the workplace at any given time through rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, remote working arrangements or similar measures to achieve social distancing;
8. Take measures to minimize contact between workers as well as between workers and members of the public;
9. Provide workers with information that raises awareness of COVID-19;
10. If a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19, an employer must –
• Inform the Department of Health and the Department of Employment and Labour; and
• Investigate the cause including any control failure and review its risk assessment to ensure that the necessary controls and PPE requirements are in place; and
11. Provide administrative support to any contact-tracing measures implemented by the Department of Health.

Social Distancing Measures

1. Arrange the workplace to ensure minimal contact between workers;
2. As far as practicable, ensure there is a minimum of one and a half metres between workers; depending on the circumstances this distance may need to be further apart;
3. If it is not possible to have work stations spaced at least one and a half metres apart, arrange physical barriers between work stations to form a solid barrier between workers; or supply workers appropriate PPE free of charge, depending on risk assessment;
4. Ensure that social distancing measures are implemented through supervision in the workplace and in common areas. Avoid the concentration of workers in common areas.

Health and Safety Measures that must be Implemented

Every employer must implement the following health and safety measures:
• Symptom screening
• Sanitisers, disinfectants and other measures
• Cloth masks
• Measures in respect of workplaces to which public have access
• Ventilation
• Other PPE

Symptom Screening

1. Every employer must take measures to:
a) screen any worker, at the time that they report for work, to ascertain whether they have any of the observable symptoms associated with COVID-19, namely fever, cough, sore throat, redness of eyes or shortness of breath (or difficulty in breathing);
b) require every worker to report whether they suffer from any of the following additional symptoms: body aches, loss of smell or loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness; and
c) require workers to immediately inform the employer if they experience any of the above symptoms while at work.

2. Employers must comply with any guidelines issued by the National Department of Health in consultation with the Department in respect of –
a) symptom screening; and
b) if in addition required to do so, medical surveillance and testing.

3. If a worker presents with those symptoms or advises the employer of these symptoms, the employer must –
a) not permit the worker to enter the workplace or report for work; or
b) if the worker is already at work immediately
i) isolate the worker, provide the worker with an FFP1 surgical mask and arrange for the worker to be transported in a manner that does not place other workers or members of the public at risk either to be self-isolated or for a medical examination or testing; and
ii) assess the risk of transmission, disinfect the area and the worker’s workstation, refer those workers who may be at risk for screening and take any other appropriate measure to prevent possible transmission;
c) ensure that the worker is tested or referred to an identified testing site;
d) place the employee on paid sick leave in terms of section 22 of the BCEA or if the employee’s sick leave entitlement under the section is exhausted, make an application for an illness benefit in terms of clause 4 of the Directive issued on 25 March 2020 on the COVID-19 Temporary Employer Relief Scheme under regulation 10(8) of the Regulations promulgated in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act;
e) ensure that the employee is not discriminated against on grounds of having tested positive for COVID-19 in terms of section 6 of the Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act No. 55 of 1998);
f) if there is evidence that the worker contracted COVID-19 as a result of occupational exposure, lodge a claim for compensation in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993 (Act No. 130 of 1993) in accordance with Notice 193 published on 3 March 2020.

4. If a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and isolated in accordance with the Department of Health Guidelines, an employer may only allow a worker to return to work on the following conditions:
a) The worker has undergone a medical evaluation confirming that the worker has been tested negative for COVID-19;
b) the employer ensures that personal hygiene, wearing of masks, social distancing, and cough etiquette is strictly adhered to by the worker; and
c) the employer closely monitors the worker for symptoms on return to work.

Sanitizer, Disinfectants, and other Measures

1. Every employer must, free of charge, ensure that –
a) there are sufficient quantities of hand sanitizer (at least 70% alcohol content and in accordance with recommendations of the Department of Health) based on the number of workers or other people that access the workplace at the entrance and inside the workplace which everybody is required to use;
b) every employee who works away from the workplace, other than at home, must be provided with an adequate supply of hand sanitizer.

2. If a worker interacts with the public, the employer must provide the worker with sufficient supplies of hand-sanitizer at that worker’s workstation for both the worker and the person with whom the worker is interacting.

3. Every employer must take measures to ensure that
a) all work surfaces and equipment are disinfected before work begins, regularly during the working period and after work ends;
b) all areas such as toilets, common areas, door handles, shared electronic equipment are regularly cleaned and disinfected;
c) biometric systems are disabled or made COVID-19-proof.

4.  The employer must ensure that
a) there are adequate facilities for the washing of hands with soap and clean water;
b) only paper towels are provided to dry hands after washing – the use of fabric towelling is prohibited;
c) the workers are required to wash their hands and sanitize their hands regularly while at work;
d) the workers interacting with the public are instructed to sanitize their hands between each interaction with the public;
e) surfaces that workers and members of the public come into contact with are routinely cleaned and disinfected.

Fabric Face-Masks

1. The main benefit of everyone wearing a fabric face-mask is to reduce the number of virus droplets being coughed up by those with the infection and transmitted to others and to surfaces that others may touch. Since some persons with the virus may not have symptoms or may not know they have it, the Department of Health requires that all persons wear cloth masks when in a public place.

2. For the reasons underlying the Department of Health’s requirement, every employer must –
a) provide each of its employees, free of charge, with a minimum of two fabric face-masks, which comply with the requirement set out in the Guidelines issued by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (click here for more information), for the employee to wear while at work and while commuting to and from work; and
b) require any other worker to wear masks in the workplace.

3. The number and replaceability of fabric face-masks that must be provided to an employee or required of other workers must be determined in accordance with any sectoral guideline and in the light of the employee or worker’s conditions of work, in particular, where these may result in the mask becoming wet or soiled.

4. Every employer must ensure that workers are informed, trained and instructed as to the correct use of fabric face-masks. Download video for staff training here.

5. An employer must make appropriate arrangements for the washing, drying and ironing of fabric face-masks in accordance with the guidelines.

6. The general requirement for workers to wear fabric face-masks does not derogate from the fact that, where a risk assessment indicates that PPE is required, those categories of workers must be provided with the accredited PPE in accordance with Department of Health guidelines.

Looking for PPE equipment for your business and staff.  Find a range of suppliers and products on PPE Marketplace. Click here to view.

Measures in Respect of Workplaces to which the Public have Access

1. The principal purpose of these measures is to protect workers from being exposed to the virus through their interaction with the public and to protect members of the public from being exposed to the virus through their interaction with workers or other people present at the workplace.

2. Depending on what is reasonably practicable given the nature of the workplace, every employer must:
a) arrange the workplace to ensure that there is a distance at least one and a half metres between workers and members of the public or between members of the public; or
b) put in place physical barriers or provide workers with face shields or visors;
c) if appropriate, undertake symptom screening measures of persons other than the employees entering the workplace with due regard to available technology and any guidelines issued by the Department of Health;
d) if appropriate, display notices advising persons other than employees entering the workplace of the precautions they are required to observe while in the workplace;
e) require members of the public, including suppliers, to wear masks when inside their premises.

Ventilation

1. Every employer must –
a) keep the workplace well ventilated by natural or mechanical means to reduce the COVID-19 viral load;
b) where reasonably practicable, have an effective local extraction ventilation system with high-efficiency particulate air HEPA filters, which is regularly cleaned and maintained, and its vents do not feedback in through open windows;
c) ensure that filters are cleaned and replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions by a competent person.

Other PPE

1. Every employer must check regularly on the websites of the National Department of Health, National Institute of Communicable Diseases and the National Institute for Occupational Health whether any additional PPE is required or recommended in any guidelines given the nature of the workplace or the nature of a worker’s duties.

SMALL BUSINESSES

1. Employers with less than 10 employees must take the following measures:
a) arrange the workplace to ensure that employees are at least one and a half metres apart or, if not practicable, place physical barriers between them to prevent the possible transmission of the virus;
b) ensure that employees that present with the following symptoms are not permitted to work: fever, cough, sore throat, redness of eyes or shortness of breath (or difficulty in breathing), as well as body aches, loss of smell or loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness;
c) immediately contact the COVID-19 hotline: 0800 02 9999 for instruction and direct the employee to act in accordance with those instructions;
d) provide cloth masks or require an employee to wear some form of cloth covering over their mouth and nose while at work;
e) provide each employee with hand sanitizers, soap and clean water to wash their hands and disinfectants to sanitize their workstations;
f) ensure that each employee while at work washes with soap and sanitizes their hands; and
g) ensure that their workstations are disinfected regularly;
h) take any other measures indicated by a risk assessment.

Worker Obligations

In addition to the obligations of employees under the OHSA, every worker is obliged to comply with measures introduced by their employer as required by this Directive.
For further and more detailed information, please read the C19 OHSA Directions here.

Click here to access the Western Cape Government’s guidelines for managing COVID-19 in the workplace.

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