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Going back to work today? Here are the regulations employers must know about
With South Africa now in Level 4 of its lockdown, employers overseeing employees that are returning to places of work today, must comply with stringent new regulations.
Under Level 4, which kicked in on 1 May, some businesses will be able to go back to work. For the remainder, employees will have to continue to work from home, if they are able to do so. For a full list see this story.
They include the provision of at least two free cloth face masks, hand sanitiser and that staff work at least 1.5m apart.
All efforts must be made to minimise the number of workers on at the workplace at any given time through rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, remote working arrangements or similar measures.
The regulations were published in the Government Gazette last Wednesday.
New regulations instruct employers to put in place various measures in the workplace to protect against Covid-19
Under the regulations (opens as a PDF) every employer must:
- Undertake a risk assessment to give effect to the minimum measures required by this directive taking into account the specific circumstances of the workplace.
- If the business employs more than 500 employees, submit a record of its risk assessment together with a written policy concerning the protection of the health and safety of its employees from Covid-19
- Instruct employees who are sick or have symptoms associated with the Covid–19 not to come to work and to take paid sick leave.
- Ensure that staff with body aches, loss of smell or taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness immediately report this to the employer.
- Appoint a manager to address employee or workplace representative concerns.
- 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.
- Take measures to minimise contact between workers as well as between workers and members of the public.
- Ensure staff work at least 1.5m apart. Depending on the circumstances of the workplace or the nature of the sector, the minimum distance may need to be longer. If not practical, physical barriers must be placed between work stations.
- Screen those reporting for work to assess if they have a fever, cough, sore throat, redness of eyes, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. A surgical mask must be provided to those that show such symptoms and they must be isolated, while transport must be arranged for them to self-isolate or seek medical examination. Their work station will need to be disinfected and co-workers screened.
- Ensure that staff who test positive for Covid-19 are not discriminated against. If there is evidence they contracted the virus at work a claim must be lodged for compensation in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.
- Ensure there is enough hand sanitiser and that work surfaces and equipment are disinfected regularly, with common areas cleaned. Biometric systems must be disabled or made Covid-19-proof. Hand sanitiser must be one that has at least 70% alcohol content and is in accordance with the recommendations of the Department of Health.
- Keep the workplace well ventilated by natural or mechanical means to reduce the viral load.
- Ban the use of fabric towels where hands are washed. Only paper towels are allowed.
- Provide, free, a minimum of two cloth face masks for employees. In addition, an employer must make appropriate arrangements for the washing, drying and ironing of cloth masks.
Small businesses with less than 10 employees must:
- Ensure staff are at least 1.5m apart in the workplace or separated by physical barriers.
- Ensure those displaying Covid-19 symptoms do not work.
- Provide cloth masks or ensure staff cover their nose and mouth, have hand sanitiser and wash hands regularly, and that their workstations are disinfected.
- Immediately contact the Covid-19 hotline: 0800 02 9999 for instruction and direct the employee to act in accordance with those instructions.
Featured image: PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay