1 May 2020 heralds a new dawn: it will be the end of an intensive five-week lockdown. Many South Africans will be returning to their workplaces. In moving from Level Five to Level Four lockdown, the government is attempting to inject new life into our dormant economy. Level Four is described as “moderate to high virus spread, with low to moderate readiness”.
Be aware that Level Four lockdown involves a government-imposed risk adjusted approach.
One will be required to adhere to a strict health and safety approach. It is important for those offering professional services during Level 4 to recognise that, come 1st May, it will not be business as usual. They must first lay the groundwork for the resumption of operations by having in place COVID-19 risk assessments and plans and educating workers on COVID-19 and protection measures.
They must implement systems for identifying and protecting vulnerable employees, safely transporting employees, screening employees entering the workplace, preventing viral spread in the workplace, ensuring surfaces and shared equipment are kept clean, providing good ventilation and managing sick workers. Further, only one-third of a company’s staff may be present at its place of operation and it is advised that, where possible, employees must work from home.
This is over and above the generally demanded practices of maintaining a social distance of two metres from others, wearing a face mask outside the home (now officially ordered by the President) and washing one’s hands frequently.
Although ABP is still waiting for full regulations to be issued by the government, it appears that our sector therefore will not need to apply for an essential services permit. However, with the large deployment of troops, it is conceivable that roadblocks will continue and those who cannot prove their business may be turned back.
In terms of us restarting the economy, and in light of the easing of restrictions, ABP would welcome to see that BEE Professionals will be seen as essential services, and they can freely resume their critical role as economic enablers. Businesses cannot recover without having adhered to BEE Compliance, the recent court case in favour of the Minister of Tourism has shown this, and therefore companies will require their Verification done and/or input from their BEE Consultant.
However, ABP pleads with all parties to adhere closely to all COVID-19 regulations and restrictions to ensure we do not return to the previous lockdown status,” and if you are able to continue to work remotely, kindly continue to do so and Together we will continue our fight against the spread of this deadly coronavirus.
We encourage our Members to familiarise themselves with the Occupational Health & Safety Act of South Africa guidelines. The guidelines will help employers to identify risk levels in the workplace and to determine what appropriate control measures to implement. It focuses on the Engineering Controls, Administrative Controls, Safe Work Practices and Personal Protective Equipment. It includes:
- Installing high-efficiency air filters and increasing ventilation rates in the work environment;
- 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 through rotation or shift work and discontinuing nonessential travel;
- Developing emergency communications plans, including a task team for answering workers’ concerns and internet-based communications;
- Provide personal hygiene resources such as no-touch refuse bins, hand soap, alcohol-based hand rubs, disinfectants, and disposable towels; and
- Provide gloves, goggles, face shields, facemasks, gowns, aprons, coats, overalls, hair and shoe covers and respiratory protection when appropriate.
Please do remember there are relaxed regulations for employers who employ less than 10 people.
With Kind Regards,