According to Business Insider, an estimated 1.5 million South Africans returned to work on 4 May as lockdown reached level 4. As we venture into level 3, this is set to rise to 8 million. With businesses of all sizes accommodating the regulations of being able to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, strict health and safety protocols apply. Minister of labour, Thulas Nxesi, mentioned that a failure to do as such would result in heavy penalties and even criminal prosecution for business owners.
At Centrevo, we strive to keep you in the loop, regardless of whether or not you’re one of our valued clients. It’s why we keep you up to date with important information that you need to know. If you’re a business owner, you might already have a checklist of procedures to follow but just in case, here’s the one you need.
- Wherever possible, work from home. Those who are able to work from their houses should stay home. Those who need to be at work should limit contact between themselves and the public.
- Less staff at work. It’s up to businesses to rotate staff in order to keep the number of people on the premises low. This means the staggering of shifts and perhaps even different hours of work.
- Face-to-face meetings are restricted. Gone are the days of packed board rooms. Thanks to COVID-19, we need to keep our distance. Unless the meetings are virtual, the number of attendees should be minimal.
- 1.5m Distance at all times. The law requires that all work stations be places at least one and a half meters apart from each other. If this isn’t possible, then solid barriers must be placed between stations. In retail stores where such distances aren’t realistic, face shields, visors or protective screens must be installed immediately.
- Spaces should be well ventilated. Your premises should be well ventilated and if it is not, an extraction ventilation system should be installed and utilised in order to lessen risk.
- Designated compliance officials. Your place of work needs to assign a trusted staff member as a compliance official. This person will drive regulations in the business and ensure that everyone is compliant. If you are a retail store, you need to display the person’s name in the shop for every customer to see and refer to if need be.
- Communal spaces must be controlled. From bathrooms to canteens and even staff rooms, these must be carefully monitored to ensure that social distancing and hygiene measures are followed at all times. This includes staggering lunch breaks and tea times to lower the number of staff present in these areas.
- No fabric towels. In your bathroom or kitchenette areas, only paper towels are to be used to lessen contamination and possible spread.
- Hand sanitiser at the entrance of your premises. A hand sanitiser with at least 70% alcohol volume must be available for employees and customers to use before they enter your premises. Staff should have access to their own supply if they engage with fellow colleagues and customers, sanitising between interactions so that they remain hygienic. Staff must continue to wash and sanitise their hands throughout their workday.
- Masks are essential. Everyone in your place of work must wear a mask. This includes suppliers and those delivering essentials to your building. The onus is on the business to supply every member of staff with two cloth masks, for free. It is up to staff to ensure that their masks are properly cleaned for regular and safe use. Educating employees on how masks should be used and cleaned is also up to employers.
- A proper cleaning schedule is key. Every surface on your premises should be cleaned and disinfected before work starts every day. Then, regular cleaning should occur to maintain compliance. Special attention must be given to door handles, shared equipment, toilets, and common areas as these are often risky.
- Biometric systems should be disabled. Any fingerprint access systems are not be used at this time. Businesses need to find alternative solutions like access cards to limit their risk.
- Sick employees must stay home and get paid sick leave. Staff must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 before commencing work for the day. Should anyone experience symptoms, they must let their employer know. These employees should stay at home in isolation whilst their work station is properly disinfected. Should they be suspected of having the virus, the business needs to arrange for them to be transported in order for self-isolation and testing to occur. If diagnosed as positive, this must be reported to the Departments of Health and Employment and Labour. Only once tested as negative, may they return to work again. Should an employer be unsure of the processes to follow, they may call the Covid-19 hotline on 0800 02 9999 for more information.
- Those with over 500 employees must submit a risk assessment. This will outline how their health and safety policies will help prevent the spread of the virus amongst their staff. This will be shared with employees who will be allowed to engage with management should they have any questions.
- Those with less than 10 staff should remain 1.5m apart. Alternatively, they need to have a physical barrier between them and other workers. The same rules on masks, sanitiser and sick leave apply.
Hang in there
It’s a tough time for many and we wish you and your staff health and safety at this time. In remaining vigilant and complaint, we can flatten the curve and get our economy back to normal much sooner.