No more lockdowns – what now?
Updated: Apr 19
In this blog I will try to explain which legislation and regulations need to be applied and what guidelines and rules have been created to assist businesses to manage COVID-19 in the workplace. I am not going to give you my opinion on the content of legislation but rather assist you on how to implement what is required as from today.
Should you wish to comment on the new Health Act & regulations which is currently open for public comment, please do so through DearSA (https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/health-act-amendment/).
The table below show the different acts with associated regulations, guidelines and practices which establish the “new COVID rules for SA businesses.”
Most of the requirements have been adopted from the COVID regulations we know and implemented through the disaster management act during the last two years, therefore you may find that you have implemented the requirements to an extent already.
Department of Employment and Labour:
“… there remains an ongoing need to prevent and mitigate the risks associated with SARS-CoV-2 exposure in the workplace, it is necessary to incorporate those provisions in the Regulations and the Direction relevant to preventing and mitigating those risks.”
“The Department of Employment and Labour has listed SARS CoV2 (Covid-19) as a group 3 hazardous biological agent (HBA) under South Africa’s Hazardous Biological Agents regulations. Group 3 HBA may cause severe human disease, which presents a serious hazard to exposed persons, and which may present a risk of spreading to the community, but for which effective prophylaxis and treatment is available. The regulations specify that a registered vaccine is available for use in South Africa and can, in terms of regulation 10(4)(g), be made available to control exposure to the HBA in the workplace, where reasonably practicable.”
A lot of people ask me if this statement and change in the HBA regulations now permits mandatory vaccinations. The short answer is no; however it does make it easier to enforce mandatory vaccinations in your workplace.
What do you need to know and implement today?
Conducting, review and/or update a risk assessment (by competent person) in terms of the OHSA and the HBA in respect of COVID-19 exposure;
Develop a draft implementation plan to limit infection, transmission and mitigate the risks of serious illness or death on the basis of that risk assessment;
Consult with employees through health and safety committee, unions and other employee forums before finalizing the risk assessment, plan and implementation;
Review/update the plan for implementation and ensure the following but not limited to;
Mitigation and controls required by the risk assessment which may include the use of masks, acceptable ventilation, social distancing, disinfecting & sanitising act.
Establish and maintain an exposure monitoring programme
Managing absence from work due to infection, isolation and adverse effects of vaccination; use COID if applicable
Seeking to accommodate employees who refuse or fail to vaccinate against COVID-19 should mandatory vaccines be required.
Keep records, since this is a medical condition, the records will need to be retained for 40 years.
The following requirements are still applicable even though the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions: Amendment have not been Gazette as yet.
Current requirements in brief:
Wearing of masks indoors compulsory
Social distancing of 1m applies
Fully vaccinated; or Negative PCR test not older than 72h - 50% capacity allowed
Not fully vaccinated; no PCR test – 1000 indoors and 2000 outdoors allowed provided it does not exceed the 50% capacity threshold and social distancing applies
Cross boarder travelling:
Proof of vaccination; or
PCR negative test not older than 72 hours
COID applied for vaccine no-fault compensation
Hand washing / sanitising
Screening (ensure people who has symptoms or tested positive report their condition and do not enter the site - no need to screen at entrance any more)
If you need any assistance with the COVID risk assessment, plans and implementation of requirements please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org