Follow Covid rules, pleads government as most industries get back to work

08 January 2021 - 07:00 By belinda pheto
Thobile Lamati, director-general of the department of employment and labour has urged business to comply with Covid-19 regulations as most industries resume operations.
Thobile Lamati, director-general of the department of employment and labour has urged business to comply with Covid-19 regulations as most industries resume operations.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

The employment and labour department has urged all businesses to prioritise the health and safety of employees and to take all necessary steps to ensure they are not exposed to Covid-19.

This as most industries and businesses are due back to the daily workplace routine on Monday after the festive break.

“It is crucial that industries, businesses and entities, both private and public, take all the necessary care to ensure the safety of workers, their families and their clients/suppliers.

“All areas of the business must designate a Covid-19 compliance officer who must develop, implement and oversee the plan containing measures to ensure that the workplace meets the standards of health protocols, adequate space for employees and social distancing measures for the public and service providers,” said the department's director-general, Thobile Lamati.

Lamati said inspectors will continue to ensure that businesses and industries adhere to regulations, but cautioned they cannot be everywhere.

“Union representatives and ordinary employees provide the first line of compliance and must be on the lookout for conditions that may expose them to danger and either contact employers with a view to improvements or call our inspectors,” Lamati said.

He said industry and business had just as much responsibility for their clients and suppliers as for their employees.

“In the past few weeks, the country has seen major outbreak and high prevalence of Covid-19 and it follows that workplaces are likely to experience significantly higher cases as asymptomatic or untested workers return. This is why issues of health and safety should be uppermost in the minds of employers and employees,” said Lamati.

The warning comes as the Compensation Fund reported in its latest report that it had received close to 15,000 Covid-19 claims, of which 29 were in respect of people who had died as a result of contracting the disease on duty.

“A total of R30m had been paid out in processed claims and with what we have seen of the second wave, we are likely to see exponentially higher numbers of infection if industries and business take the business-as-usual approach,” Lamati added.

In the level 3 adjusted lockdown that is now in operation, businesses are generally allowed to operate on condition that:

  • Relevant health protocols and social distancing measures for people employed in private residences must are adhered to.
  • Relevant health protocols and social distancing measures set out in directions must be adhered to, in addition to the occupational health and safety directions issued by the department and applicable labour legislation.
  • Firms must adhere to any sector-specific health protocols intended to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the sector concerned.
  • Sector-specific health protocols may address matters such as work rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, remote working arrangements, special measures affecting people with greater vulnerabilities or similar measures, to achieve social distancing, protect employees or limit congestion in public transport and at the workplace.
  • Sector-specific health protocols implemented or be developed and issued in consultation with the health department.

Provincial chief inspectors can be contacted on the after numbers:

  • Eastern Cape    082 ‪908 2318                           
  • Free State         066 ‪304 3469
  • Gauteng            082 ‪900 8131                           
  • KwaZulu-Natal   060 ‪985 9286
  • Mpumalanga     081 ‪382 4008                            
  • Limpopo           082 ‪880 4297
  • Northern Cape  082 ‪802 6796
  • North West        082 ‪908 2308
  • Western Cape   ‪082791 4485

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