Implications for employers in South Africa

Coronavirus – COVID 19

The South African Department of Health (DOH) is currently dealing with 13 confirmed Coronavirus – COVID 19 patients in South Africa as of 11 March 2020. There is a strong probability that there will be other cases of Covid-19 infections across the country in the coming weeks and months.  Employers will need to consider the health & safety within their organizations to manage the risk of Covid-19 infections within the workplace.  The information provided on this page identifies the key legal considerations and practices that the employer must consider to safeguard employees in the workplace. Please note that given the constant transformation of Covid-19, the answers to the questions detailed below will also develop accordingly.

Access Decontamination & Screening Point Services

Providing critical screening services to ensure continued production in your workplace. 

  Daily entry point, flu symptom screening of employees and visitors

Continued entry point decontamination implementation of employees and visitors

Responsible person training on COVID-19 for the workplace

Online training for the responsible person to deal with COVID –19 in the workplace

Weekly COVID –19 Workshops and training

COVID 19 on site testing

ImpiMed conducts onsite COVID 19 testing for clients who require their staff to be tested should they present symptoms associated with the virus. ImpiMed Nurses conduct the testing onsite in a controlled environment whilst sampling in an invasive manner. Test results are submitted to Lancet laboratories for testing. ImpiMed’s current turnaround time on receiving test results is currently within 15 hours from submission. SMS and email reports are sent to the client.

COVID 19 back to work clearance examination and certificate

ImpiMed is currently assisting clients with physiological screening of workers to ensure that they do not display symptoms associated with COVID 19. A full physical examination is conducted on the employee and a certificate of clearance is issued to the employer.   

From a health & safety perspective, what are the legal obligations that an employer needs to consider in light of the global outbreak.

The employer must ensure that the workplace is free from any risk to the health of its employees as far as it is reasonably practicable. Practically the employer can ensure a healthy working environment by ensuring that the workplace is clean and hygienic, promoting regular hand-washing by employees, promoting good respiratory hygiene by employees and keeping employees informed on developments related to Covid-19. Workplace safety protocols and methods which organizations can implement:  Regular washing of hands when entering and exiting common areas such as bathrooms, eating areas, smoking areas. Decontaminating areas where staff congregate and by implementing the use of anti-bacterial and viral sprays to combat airborne pathogens during their exposed and vulnerable periods. These methods are cost effective and practical.

Proactive steps the employer can take to safeguard the workplace

Follow health advice and information from credible sources. Department of Health, National Institute of Communicable Diseases.  Communicate with employees: the employer should consistently provide updates on Covid-19 to employees and its approach at work regarding attendance and preventing the spread of infection. The employer may also wish to display posters that provide information on the illness and hygiene

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