The Department of Labour has published updated directives for companies to protect their workers from the coronavirus, as South Africa prepares to ease the national lockdown to level 4.
According to the new regulations, employers will need to implement a host of new measures to ensure their workers are protected and limit the risk of the coronavirus spreading.
Mandatory screening of employees to see if they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms and ensuring those returning to work are protected by providing free masks, hand sanitiser, and work spacing of at least 1.5 metres apart are some of the rules.
These directives will be mandatory for as long as the national disaster is in effect.
Large companies – more than 500 employees – will also need to perform a risk assessment to guide their application of the directives. A record of this must be supplied to the government.
Employees who present symptoms of the coronavirus must be kept away from work, and if they are diagnosed positively, the government must be informed.
Employers have also been directed to screen workers for the virus at the time that they report for work. This is for observable symptoms associated with COVID-19, namely: fever, cough, sore throat, redness of eyes or shortness of breath.
At the same time, every worker is required to report whether they suffer from any of the following additional symptoms: body aches, loss of smell or loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, weakness, or tiredness.
If any of these symptoms are screened, workers must be prevented from returning to work, or if they are at work already, must be isolated.
If a company has less than 10 employees, they are exempt from the more administrative-heavy directives, and are only subject to the following:
- They must arrange the workplace to ensure that employees are at least 1.5 metres apart or, if not practicable, place physical barriers between them.
- Employees that present symptoms of the virus are not permitted to work.
- They must provide cloth masks or require an employee to wear some form of cloth covering their mouth and nose.
- They must provide each employee with hand sanitizers, soap and clean water to wash their hands and disinfectants to sanitise their workstations.
- They must take any other measures indicated by a risk assessment.
A designated inspector is empowered to conduct assessments of businesses. Punishments for being found in contravention of the regulations include fines and possible jail time.
The new regulations are shown in the Government Gazette below.