With South Africa moving to a level 4 lockdown as of today, businesses able to commence operations as of 4 May will need to ensure that they are “Covid-19 ready” as emphasised by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, during yesterday’s announcement of the Level 4 lockdown regulations.
“Businesses should take steps to prepare their workplaces and their employees are ready for re-opening of operations during the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Nadia Smith, panel member at Caveat Legal.
- Compile risk assessments to facilitate the identification, assessment and on-going monitoring of the material risks caused by Covid-19 and whether appropriate control measures have been implemented at its workplace – these assessments should include an assessment of the level of risk (high, medium or low) posed by Covid-19 to each employee based on their vulnerability (age, pre-and existing medical conditions) and possible exposure to Covid-19;
- Develop a workplace plan consistent with the framework included as Annexure E to the Level 4 lockdown regulations on 29 April. Such workplace plan would need to include details on:
- the date the business will open and hours of opening;
- a timetable setting out the phased return to work of employees;
- the steps taken to get the workplace Covid-19 ready.
- a list of those employees who will be required to work from home or stay at home due to them being 60 years or older or having comorbidities.
- applicable Covid-19 health and safety protocols that will apply to its workplace – including engineering controls (such as screening facilities, wearing of face masks/shields) that may need to be put in place and administrative controls (such as minimising of contact, safe handwashing and sanitisation protocols and safe physical social distancing protocols) that will require action by each employee.
- details of the designated Covid-19 compliance officer.
- Properly inform all employees and other persons present at its workplace of its workplace plan, in particular the applicable health and safety preventative measures included in such plan;
- To the extent possible, continue to allow employees to work from home, thus minimising the number of employees physically present at its workplace;
- Ensure that its workplace is clean and hygienic and, to the extent required, disinfected prior to re-opening;
- Provide each employee who may come into direct contact with members of the public as part of their duties, with a cloth face mask;
- Provide hand sanitiser at all entrances to its workplace;
- Designate a Covid-19 compliance officer to oversee the implementation of all Covid-19 health and safety protocols – in particular regulations and guidelines for social distancing, sanitation and hygiene should be strictly observed;
- Actively promote notification by employees of any possible exposure to Covid-19; and
- Prepare an appropriate response to a positive case of Covid-19 being identified at its workplace.
“Aside from the legal consequences of non-compliance with the regulations, businesses that fail to implement the required steps to ensure “Covid-19 readiness” run an increased risk of exposure to the Covid-19 virus which may inadvertently lead to forced temporary closures in the future,” Smith concludes.