Firms that don’t obey virus rules face closure

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Firms that don’t obey virus rules face closure

Businesses must have a plan, keep employees informed of labour’s directive and how it will be implemented

Linda Ensor
Employment & labour minister Thulas Nxesi has announced a number of stringent measures to keep people safe as millions return to work on Monday.
Big Stick Employment & labour minister Thulas Nxesi has announced a number of stringent measures to keep people safe as millions return to work on Monday.
Image: Trevor Sampson

As millions of workers return to work on Monday under level 4 lockdown restrictions, employers will be required to implement stringent measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 in their workplaces.

Under the government’s risk-adjusted strategy in lockdown, level 4 will allow the return to work of specified businesses under strict conditions.

Employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi warned at a media briefing on Sunday that employers who failed to comply with the minimum measures contained in a directive he issued late last week may be ordered to close down.

“In returning to work it will not be business as usual,” he stressed. The department of employment and labour’s inspectors will be inspecting premises to ensure there is compliance.

The minister also stressed that the required health and safety measures had to be implemented by businesses before workers returned to work.

The measures include screening workers for symptoms of Covid-19 when they report for duty, social distancing and the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as hand sanitisers and masks. Workers who test positive for Covid-19 will have to report this and be sent home.

With regard to social distancing, a minimum distance of 1.5m must be maintained between workers. Where this is not possible a physical barrier must be erected. Workplaces must be well ventilated.

Nxesi said all employers will have to undertake a risk assessment of their individual workplaces and formulate a clear plan to implement the required measures.

Employers are obliged to notify employees of the contents of the directive and how it will be implemented. A manager will have to be appointed to address the concerns of employees and workplace representatives.

Shops and other workplaces to which the public have access must screen all people entering the workplace.

Employers must provide sufficient quantities of hand sanitiser and ensure that work surfaces, equipment and other common areas are disinfected. There must also be adequate facilities for handwashing.

Workers will be obliged to wear masks at work and members of the public entering the workplace will have to do likewise. Employers will have to provide employees with at least two cloth masks for free.