BlueUmbrella is actively aiding our clients by providing certified Occupational hygienists and HSE experts to help with your planning efforts as you prepare to reopen. The team can perform coronavirus-related site testing, develop business-specific decontamination protocols, provide risk assessments and return to workplace preparedness plans. As an industry leader in Health, Safety, Hygiene and Environmental consulting, BlueUmbrella has combined our decades of collective industry experience and the most up-to-date legislation, to support our clients’ developing needs during this challenging time.
Planning and preparedness are fundamental elements for companies to consider during the current Covid - 19 crises. A systematic and symptomatic workplace preparedness process is required by Employers, to manage the approach for employees to return to work in line with the Government’s phased approach.
BlueUmbrella is actively aiding our clients in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have formed a nationwide task force of certified Occupational hygienists and Health and Safety experts to develop business-specific Baseline risk assessments, Return to Workplace Preparedness Plans SOP’s, Registers & Checklists, protocols and assist with business continuity planning.
BlueUmbrella has extensive experience providing environmental health and safety consulting services in sensitive facilities such as commercial properties, offices, public facilities, government facilities and private buildings throughout the country. EFI understands the risks and challenges posed by COVID-19 and is well-qualified to develop Return to Workplace Preparedness Plans and protocols for cleaning and securing workplaces affected by the coronavirus. EFI’s network of contractors, with extensive experience in cleaning and disinfecting buildings, are readily available to assist.
COVID-19 ServicesBlueUmbrella can provide the following services to businesses:
- Workplace Preparedness Plans
- Every business returning to work, needs to have a workplace preparedness plan in place. We can assist with compiling such a plan.
- COVID-19 Desktop Compliance Audits and legal review
- New regulations to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa are released on a daily basis. Many of these regulations will impact employers to varying degrees. This regulatory environment changes at a rapid pace. BlueUmbrella can assist by conducting a Desktop Legal Compliance Audit to review your current operations or planned operations against the new COVID-19 legislation. It is imperative to ensure your new safety procedures take into account the changes quired due to COVID-19. These audits will be assessments based on up to date COVID-19 legislation as well as the relevant Occupational Health and Safety law, Department of Employment and Labour requirements and WHO best practice.
- Hygiene plans and programs
- COVID-19 Risk Assessment Review and Safe Operating procedures
- At this time, it is necessary for employers to implement a policy or protocol to prevent and reduce the risk of infection of COVID-19 at the workplace. 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 in relation to COVID–19 The OHS read with the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations requires the employer to provide and maintain as far as is reasonably practicable a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees..
- Checklist and /or Registers,
- All businesses will be required to have checklists and registers for employee screening, visitor access etc, we can assist with providing such registers.
- Planning guidance
- Planning guidance, including possible engineering, administrative and operational controls to help identify potential risks and appropriate measures to mitigate and control these risks
- Mitigation risk of infection to personnel
- Mitigation risk of infection to personnel i.e. Issue or task specific risk assessment in accordance with the Regulations for Hazardous Biological Agents, Disaster management act and OHS act
- Training of personnel regarding correct safety procedures of COVID-19
COVID-19 PostersWe also provide information posters relating to COVID-19 prevention and symptoms. Worplace posters can be designed on a client specific bases.
On 17 March 2020, the Department of Employment and Labour issued guidelines for employers to deal with COVID-19 at workplaces.1 The Department of Employment and Labour appealed to employers to use the prescriptions of the OHSA in particular the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations governing workplaces in relation to Coronavirus Disease 2019 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
COVID-19 OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES IN WORKPLACES COVID-19 (C19 OHS), 2020
We have broken it down in sections for you, for easier reading
- Administrative measures
- Social distancing measures
- Health and safety measures
- Sanitizers, disinfectants and other measures
- Small businesses
If you do not understand the regulations, we at BlueUmbrella are more than willing to assist you, not only in understanding the regulations, but also to get into compliance with the regulations.
- 16. Every employer must establish the following administrative measures:
- 16.1 It must undertake a risk assessment to give effect to the minimum measures required by this Directive taking into account the specific circumstances of the workplace.
- 16.2 If the employer employs more than 500 employees, that employer must submit a record of its risk assessment together with a written policy concerning the protection of the health and safety of its employees from COVID-19 as contemplated in section 7(1) of OHSA to-
- 16.2.1 Its health and safety committee established in terms of section 19 of OHSA; and
- 16.2.2 The Department of Employment and Labour.
- 16.3 It must notify all workers of the contents of this Directive and the manner in which it intends to implement it;
- 16.4 It must notify its employees that if they are sick or have symptoms associated with the COVID–19 that they must not come to work and to take paid sick leave in terms of section 22 of the BCEA;
- 16.5 It must appoint a manager to address employee or workplace representative concerns and to keep them informed and, in any workplace in which an health and safety committee has been elected, consult with that committee on the nature of the hazard in that workplace and the measures that need to be taken;
- 16.6 It must ensure that the measures required by this Directive and its risk assessment plan are strictly complied with through monitoring and supervision;
- 16.7 It must, as far as practicable, minimize the number of workers on at the workplace at any given time through rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, remote working arrangements or similar measures in order to achieve social distancing, as contemplated in clause 17;
- 16.8 It must take measures to minimize contact between workers as well as between workers and members of the public;
- 16.9 It must provide workers with information that raises awareness in any form or manner, including where reasonably practicable leaflets and notices placed in conspicuous places in the workplace informing workers of the dangers of the virus, the manner of its transmission, the measures to prevent transmission such as personal hygiene, social distancing, use of masks, cough etiquette and where to go for screening or testing if presenting with the symptoms;
- 16.10 If a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19, an employer must-
- 126.96.36.199 inform the Department of Health5 and the Department of Employment and Labour; and;
- 16.10.2 investigate the cause including any control failure and review its risk assessment to ensure that the necessary controls and PPE requirements are in place;
- 16.11 it must give administrative support to any contact-tracing measures implemented by the Department of Health.
- 17. Every employer must arrange the workplace to ensure minimal contact between workers and as far as practicable ensure that there is a minimum of one and a half metres between workers while they are working, for example, at their workstations. Depending on the circumstances of the workplace or the nature of the sector, the minimum distance may need to be longer. Reducing the number of workers present in the workplace at any time in terms of clause 16.5 may assist in achieving the required social distancing.
- 18. If it is not practicable to arrange work stations to be spaced at least one and a half metres apart, the employer must-
- 18.1 arrange physical barriers to be placed between work stations or erected on work stations to form a solid physical barrier between workers while they are working; or
- 18.2 if necessary, supply the employee free of charge with appropriate PPE based on a risk assessment of the working place.
- 19. Every employer must ensure that social distancing measures are implemented through supervision both in the workplace and in the common areas outside the immediate workplace through queue control or within the workplace such as canteens and lavatories. These measures may include dividing the workforce into groups or staggering break-times to avoid the concentration of workers in common areas.
- 20. Every employer must implement the following health and safety measures.
- 21. Every employer must take measures to-
- 21.1 screen any worker, at the time that they report for work, to ascertain whether they have any of the observable symptoms associated with COVID-19, namely fever, cough, sore throat, redness of eyes or shortness of breath (or difficulty in breathing);
- 21.2 require every worker to report whether they suffer from any of the following additional symptoms: body aches, loss of smell or loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness; and
- 21.3 require workers to immediately inform the employer if they experience any of the symptoms in sub-clauses 21.1 and 21.2 while at work.
- 22. Employers must comply with any guidelines issued by the the National Department of Health in consultation with the Department in respect of –
- 22.1 symptom screening; and
- 22.2 if in addition required to do so, medical surveillance and testing.
- 23. If a worker presents with those symptoms, or advises the employer of these symptoms, the employer must –
- 23.1 not permit the worker to enter the workplace or report for work; or
- 23.2 if the worker is already at work immediately-
- 23.2.1 isolate the worker, provide the worker with a FFP1 surgical mask and arrange for the worker to be transported in a manner that does not place other workers or members of the public at risk either to be selfisolated or for a medical examination or testing; and
- 23.2.2 assess the risk of transmission, disinfect the area and the worker’s workstation, refer those workers who may be at risk for screening and take any other appropriate measure to prevent possible transmission.
- 23.3 ensure that the worker is tested or referred to an identified testing site;
- 23.4 place its employee on paid sick leave in terms of section 22 of the BCEA or if the employee’s sick leave entitlement under the section is exhausted, make application for an illness benefit in terms of clause 4 of the Directive issued on 25 March 2020 on the COVID-19 Temporary Employer Relief Scheme under regulation 10(8) of the Regulations promulgated in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act;
- 23.5 ensure that the employee is not discriminated against on grounds of having tested positive for COVID-19 in terms of section 6 of the Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act No. 55 of 1998);
- 23.6 if there is evidence that the worker contracted COVID-19 as a result of occupational exposure, lodge a claim for compensation in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993 (Act No. 130 of 1993) in accordance with Notice 193 published on 3 March 2020.
- 24. If a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and isolated in accordance with the Department of Health Guidelines, an employer may only allow a worker to return to work on the following conditions:
- 24.1 The worker has undergone a medical evaluation confirming that the worker has been tested negative for COVID-19;
- 24.2 the employer ensures that personal hygiene, wearing of masks, social distancing, and cough etiquette is strictly adhered to by the worker; and
- 24.3 the employer closely monitors the worker for symptoms on return to work.
- 25. For the purposes of these clauses, a hand sanitizer must be one that has at least 70% alcohol content and is in accordance with the recommendations of the Department of Health.
- 26. Every employer must, free of charge, ensure that –
- 26.1 there are sufficient quantities of hand sanitizer based on the number of workers or other persons who access the workplace at the entrance of, and in, the workplace which the workers or other persons are required to use;
- 26.2 every employee who works away from the workplace, other than at home, must be provided with an adequate supply of hand sanitizer.
- 27. If a worker interacts with the public, the employer must provide the worker with sufficient supplies of hand-sanitizer at that worker’s workstation for both the worker and the person with whom the worker is interacting.
- 28. Every employer must take measures to ensure that-
- 28.1 all work surfaces and equipment are disinfected before work begins, regularly during the working period and after work ends;
- 28.2 all areas such as toilets, common areas, door handles, shared electronic equipment are regularly cleaned and disinfected;
- 28.3 disable biometric systems or make them COVID-19-proof.
- 29. The employer must ensure that-
- 29.1 there are adequate facilities for the washing of hands with soap and clean water;
- 29.2 only paper towels are provided to dry hands after washing – the use of fabric toweling is prohibited;
- 29.3 the workers are required to wash their hands and sanitize their hands regularly while at work;
- 29.4 the workers interacting with the public are instructed to sanitize their hands between each interaction with public;
- 29.5 surfaces that workers and members of the public come into contact with are routinely cleaned and disinfected.
- 30. The main benefit of everyone wearing a cloth mask is to reduce the amount of virus droplets being coughed up by those with the infection and transmitted to others and to surfaces that others may touch. Since some persons with the virus may not have symptoms or may not know they have it, the Department of Health requires that all persons wear cloth masks when in a public place.
- 31. For the reasons underlying the Department of Health’s requirement, every employer must –
- 31.1 provide each of its employees, free of charge, with a minimum of two cloth masks, which comply with the requirement set out in the Guidelines issued by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition,8 for the employee to wear while at work and while commuting to and from work; and
- 31.2 require any other worker to wear masks in the workplace
- 32. The number and replaceability of cloth masks that must be provided to an employee or required of other workers must be determined in accordance with any sectoral guideline and in the light of the employee or worker’s conditions of work, in particular, where these may result in the mask becoming wet or soiled.
- 33. Every employer must ensure that workers are informed, instructed, trained and instructed as to the correct use of cloth masks.
- 34. An employer must make appropriate arrangements for the washing, drying and ironing of cloth masks in accordance with the Guidelines referred in clause 31.1 recommendations.
- 35. The general requirement for workers to wear masks does not derogate from the fact that, where a risk assessment indicates that PPE is required, those categories of workers must be provided with the accredited PPE in accordance with Department of Health guidelines.
- 36. The principal purpose of the measures contained in the following clause is to protect workers from being exposed to the virus through their interaction with the public and to protect members of the public from being exposed to virus through their interaction with workers or other persons present in such a workplace.
- 37. Depending on what is reasonably practicable given the nature of the workplace, every employer must-
- 37.1 arrange the workplace to ensure that there is a distance at least one and a half metres between workers and members of the public or between members of the public; or
- 37.2 put in place physical barriers or provide workers with face shields or visors;
- 37.3 if appropriate, undertake symptom screening measures of persons other than the employees entering the workplace with due regard to available technology and any guidelines issued by the Department of Health;
- 37.4 if appropriate, display notices advising persons other than employees entering the workplace of the precautions they are required to observe while in the workplace;
- 37.5 require members of the public, including suppliers, to wear masks when inside their premises.
- 38. Every employer must –
- 38.1 keep the workplace well ventilated by natural or mechanical means to reduce the SARS-CoV-2 viral load;
- 38.2 where reasonably practicable, have an effective local extraction ventilation system with high-efficiency particulate air HEPA filters, which is regularly cleaned and maintained, and its vents do not feed back in through open windows;
- 38.3 ensure that filters are cleaned and replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions by a competent person.
- 39. Every employer must check regularly on the websites of the National Department of Health9, National Institute of Communicable Diseases10 and the National Institute for Occupational Health11 whether any additional PPE is required or recommended in any guidelines given the nature of the workplace or the nature of a worker’s duties.
Measures in respect of workplaces to which public have access
- 40. Employers with less than 10 employees must take the following measures
- 40.1 arrange the workplace to ensure that employees are at least one and half metres apart or, if not practicable, place physical barriers between them to prevent the possible transmission of the virus;
- 40.2 ensure that employees that present with the symptoms set out in clause 21 are not permitted to work;
- 40.3 immediately contact the COVID-19 hotline: 0800 02 9999 for instruction and direct the employee to act in accordance with those instructions;
- 40.4 provide cloth masks or require an employee to wear some form of cloth covering over their mouth and nose while at work;
- 40.5 provide each employee with hand sanitizers, soap and clean water to wash their hands and disinfectants to sanitize their workstations;
- 40.6 ensure that each employee while at work washes with soap and sanitizes their hands; and
- 40.7 ensure that their workstations are disinfected regularly,
- 40.8 take any other measures indicated by a risk assessment