Following President Ramaphosa’s address last week indicating that most of South Africa should be at Level 3 by the end of May, the details of which sectors will open are still to be confirmed although indications are that retail, e-commerce and exercise will be lifted soon. However, parts of the country with the highest rates of infection may have to remain on Level 4. But, as we have seen, many of the rulings have been changed, challenged and it has become difficult to keep up with this ever-changing crisis.
NEASA, the National Employers Association of South Africa (www.neasa.co.za/covid-19-return-to-work-toolkit/), have produced a very handy Toolkit to assist employers comply with regulations: Some of the key standouts include:
Return to Work Company Policy under Level 4
- Where the employer employs less than 10 employees, the workplace should be arranged in such a manner to ensure that employees are at least one and a half metres apart, or place physical barriers between them. 2 x cloth masks must be provided as well as hand sanitizer, soap and water for hand-washing and disinfecting their work stations every hour. Any employee showing symptoms of COVID-19 may not work and the employer must contact the COVID-19 hotline on 0800 02 9999.
It is also mandatory that all employees familiarize themselves with how COVID-19 is spread in the workplace in terms of:
- when someone is infected with COVID-19 coughs or exhales, they release droplets of infected fluid which fall on nearby surfaces and objects, such as desks, tables or telephones.
- people can then be infected by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
- If people are standing one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can be infected by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them.
Covid-19 Ready Workplace Plan
The government guidelines outline responsible parties to have a workplace plan and risk and hazard assessment which outlines the required actions of employees and visitors in order to protect themselves against the virus. This includes detailing the opening plan in terms of hours of operation, the phased return of employees and the steps that must be taken to ensure a COVID-19 ready workplace. These include a list of employees who can work from home, those over the age of 60 and those with comorbidities. The arrangements for employees returning to work must be detailed in terms of adhering to sanitizing and social distancing, employee work areas, staff rotation arrangements, screening facilities and systems and the keeping of attendance record-systems. Arrangements for visitors is another area that employers need to address in terms of how they protect themselves whilst on your premises, as well as keeping records of visitors for tracking purposes in the event of an outbreak.
Detailed inspection checklists
Although the guidelines may vary for different industries, the NEASA toolkit has handy templates that also include inspection checklists, COVID-19 checklist, how to keep minutes of meetings, warrant letter format and the appointment of a compliance officer, the use of company vehicles and PPE and screening registers.