Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
17 Mar 2020
4:15 pm

Covid-19: Employers urged to prepare for potentially worsening outbreak conditions

Citizen Reporter

Before the implementation of control measures, current risk assessments need to be reviewed and updated.

Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi. Picture: Moneyweb

​In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the department of employment and labour has appealed to employers to use the prescriptions of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act of 1993 in governing workplaces.

Employers have been urged to prepare themselves and their employees for potentially worsening outbreak conditions by conducting hazard identification and risk assessment to determine the level of risk exposure.

On completion, this must be communicated to all employees.

These are the new guidelines published by the department:

  • Isolating employees from work-related hazards;
  • Installing high-efficiency air filters;
  • Increasing ventilation rates in the work environment and installing physical barriers such as face shields to provide ventilation;
  • Encouraging sick workers to stay at home;
  • Minimising contact among workers, clients and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications;
  • Minimising the number of workers on site at any given time;
  • Developing emergency communications plans, including a task team for answering workers’ concerns and internet-based communications;
  • Training workers who need to use protective clothing and equipment on how to put it on, use/wear it and take it off correctly;
  • Providing resources and a work environment that promotes personal hygiene.

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Said the department in a statement: “Section 8(2)(b) requires steps such as may be reasonably practicable to eliminate or mitigate any hazard or potential hazard before resorting to personal protective equipment (PPE). However, in the case of Covid–19, a combination of controls is required, although the main principle is to follow the hierarchy of controls.

“However, before the implementation of control measures, current risk assessments need to be reviewed and updated, taking into account the new hazards posed by exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace. This is in accordance with Section 8 (2) (d) of the OHS Act.”

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