NEWS  


CONSOLIDATED DIRECTIONS ON OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES IN CERTAIN WORKPLACES
2020/10/03

The Consolidated Directions on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Certain Workplaces, issued on 04 June 2020 by the Minister of Employment and Labour (DEL), are replaced.  The new Direction was signed on 28 September 2020 and published on 01 October 2020.

 

The new Direction follows the content of the previous Direction but has important changes and additions, which are summarized below.

 

There is an emphasis on the collation and analysis of workplace data to prevent the spread and escalation of the pandemic.

 

More emphasis is placed on Risk Assessments and plans for protective measures, with this topic now being itemized as a separate Directive (as opposed to being captured under Plan for the re-opening workplaces, as it previously was).

 

The notable addition is that the plan must now provide for a procedure to resolve any issue that may arise from the exercise by an employee of the right to refuse to work in the circumstances contemplated in Directive 14(1). Directive 14(1) provides for the refusal to work due to exposure to Covid-19, where reasonable justification exists.

 

Under Administrative Measures there are reporting measures placed on employers with more than 50 employees.  Previously, the obligation to submit a record of the risk assessment and a written policy concerning the protection of health and safety of employees from Covid-19 to the company’s health and safety committee and to the DEL, only applied to employers employing more than 500 employees.  This submission must be made by 21 October 2020.

 

The obligation to provide screening and testing data previously only applied to employers employing more than 500 employees (in certain sectors).  All employers with more than 50 employees must now submit data to the NIOH (National Institute of Occupational Health) regarding, inter alia, each employee’s vulnerability status for serious outcomes of a Covid-19 infection, details of the daily symptom screening data, details of employees who tested positive, etc.  Excluding the vulnerability data, the data must be submitted weekly.

 

There is an obvious POPI exposure.  The Directions therefore say the employer must inform the employees of the disclosure.  Accordingly, the data appears to refer to employees only, although the definition of “worker”, as contained in the Directive, includes others working in the workplace.

 

Positive cases must now be reported to the NIOH.

 

The new Direction requires employers to inform the Compensation Commission whenever a “worker” is diagnosed positive.  (It seems as if “employee” should have been used).

 

In the event of an employee exhibiting symptoms the employer must isolate the worker and arrange transportation to a public health facility – namely a testing site.

 

Isolation and self-quarantine periods are reduced to 10 days.

 

Where the circumstances contemplated in Directive 14(1) apply (a refusal to work) the additional requirement is that where the matter cannot be resolved, the employer is obliged to notify an inspector (Section 28 OHSA) of the issue within 24 hours.  The inspector may, in terms of Section 30 of OHSA, issue a prohibition notice.

 

The provisions regarding cleaning of the workplace remain unchanged. Continuous shift systems may thus continue to be affected in terms of the time it takes to sanitize the workplace.

 

Risk assessments, plans and data reporting will require a meticulous method and procedure.


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John Povey - 082 891 7094 

Tanya Barnard - 082 328 7101



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