Level 3 Lockdown Compliance to Health and Safety Measures
As South Africa waits expectantly for lockdown restrictions to be lifted to Level 3, financial analysts warn of a roller-coaster ride that will fluctuate between Levels Five and One through until 2021. But amid this picture of doom and gloom, hope springs eternal in the country’s economic pulse. Thousands of employers will now be preparing to ensure that they comply with Level Three lockdown health and safety control measures before the return to the workplace.
When Covid-19 Level Three is announced, the country will move from a moderate to high virus spread risk level with low to moderate readiness, to a moderate virus spread, with moderate readiness. This does not, however, mean that Level Three health and safety control measures will be any more lenient than on levels 4 and 5. If anything, the return to work of hundreds of thousands of more people will increase Covid-19 health and safety risks in the workplace.
“It is now more important than ever before that industry is prepared for Level 3 lockdown compliance to occupational health and safety measures,” states OHS consultants, MAKROSAFE.
Risk Assessments are Crucial
At the heart of OHS Act compliance is Risk Assessments, a crucial element in the identification of workplace health and safety hazards. Industries returning to the workplace after weeks in lockdown must make sure that they update their risk assessments before reaching full production on factory floors.
The Department of Employment and Labour has issued directives and regulations that require employers to provide and maintain safe working environments that are free of hazards. The onus falls on employers to protect their workers from the risk of contracting Covid-19 or the spread of the coronavirus by eliminating any existing or potential hazards from the working environment.
In terms of these directives, employers must ensure that everyone involved in their business operations – workers, customers, clients, suppliers and contractors – must not be exposed to any hazards that could jeopardise their health or safety. This stipulation also applies to self-employed people, such as plumbers or electricians, whose activities bring them into contact with members of the public.
Criteria for Return to Activity
The Government has determined criteria for the economic sectors that will be allowed to return to work based on five levels. The three criteria take into consideration the following:
- Transmission risks that can be mitigated by implementing health and safety control measures.
- The economic impact on the industry if lockdown restrictions are continued.
- The value of the industry to the economy, such as export earnings and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contributions.
The industries that will be scaling up to 100 per cent operation in Level 3 include:
- Automotive manufacturing
- Steel and Metal manufacturing
- Chemical manufacturing
- Textiles and footwear
- Public transport subject t strict passenger-load and hygiene restrictions
Employment sectors returning to work for the first time after weeks in lockdown will be:
- Public Service and Administration departments such as licensing and the deeds offices
- Take-away restaurants and online food delivery
- Hardware stores
- Machinery and equipment
- Book sales and stationery
- Household appliances
- Postal and courier services
- Real estate
- Motor vehicle sales
- Pool and gardening services
- Laundry and dry-cleaning services
- Domestic air travel (subject to restrictions)
- Alcohol sales (subject to restrictions)
Level 3 Not Cast in Stone
South Africa’s Covid-19 roller-coaster ride could continue for another 12 months, according to Intellidex analyst, Peter Attard-Montalto. He says while the national lockdown may be lifted to Level 3 within the next few weeks, it could revert back to Level 4, or even Level 5 when the pandemic is expected to peak from July and August.
The Government, too, has made it clear that Level Three criteria could be changed at any stage depending on current Covid-19 developments.
Covid-19 has complicated health and safety compliance in all business sectors. It has forced the Government to reassess and change existing legislation and it has forced business owners to reassess and change working environments. A Health and Safety Compliance Certificates issued before the outbreak of the pandemic and less than a year ago is now a worthless piece of paper. The risks posed to workers by the coronavirus have forced the creation of new legislation and a new set of rules to which companies must adhere.
Health and Safety Compliance Certificates are only issued when a workplace is certified to be legally compliant with the OHS Act requirements. The certificate is only valid for one year. A new audit must then be conducted to identify and monitor any existing or potential health and safety hazards in the workplace.
These new health and safety compliance demands, plus the added pressures of meeting the new criteria, can effectively be handled by an OHS specialist, like MAKROSAFE. The benefit of using their many years of expertise in the field saves business owners valuable time and money. It also assures them of meeting and maintaining health and safety standards in the workplace. MAKROSAFE auditors are on the lookout for workplace hazards that pose health and safety risks to employees, while safety controls are assessed for efficiency. They will issue a Health and Safety Compliance Certificate once they have declared a workplace free of risk, and potential future risk.
Non Compliance Risks
The importance of a valid Health and Safety Compliance Certificate cannot be over-stressed. Failure to undertake a health and safety audit and to be in possession of a valid certificate can result in a heavy fine or a complete business shutdown by the Department of Labour.
MAKROSAFE helps clients to:
- Identify hazards in the workplace
- Monitor the risk
- Evaluate risk levels and introduce precautionary measures
- Implement and control health and safety measures
- Regularly review and update the level of risk in the workplace
Covid-19 has changed the way in which businesses operate and the way in which workers act and think. Hygiene and safety precautions, such as regular handwashing and protective clothing, will probably remain in use forever more. Legislation, too, will forever have to change to keep abreast of coronavirus developments. MAKROSAFE keeps South African businesses safe, forever vigilant in its routine of daily updating and sharing of information with thousands of clients and visitors to its online site.
A Back to Work COVID-19 Prevention Kit was developed to deal with all the aspects of health and safety to help to return to work.