The Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) is urging all businesses to prioritise the health and safety of their employees and to take all necessary steps to ensure they are not exposed to the Covid-19 virus.
“It is crucial that industries, businesses and entities, both private and in the public sector, take all the necessary care to ensure the safety of workers, their families and the clients/suppliers.
"All areas of 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,” DEL director-general Thobile Lamati says.
He adds that the department’s inspectors will continue to ensure that businesses and industries adhere to regulations but laments that “inspectors cannot be everywhere at the same time”, therefore 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 DEL inspectors.
Further, he stresses that industries and businesses have just as much responsibility to their clients and suppliers as it does to employees.
“In the last few weeks, the country has seen a 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,” says Lamati.
The warning comes as the Compensation Fund reported in its last report that it had received close to 15 000 Covid-19 claims of which 29 were claims in respect to people who had died as a result of contracting the disease on duty.
A total of R30-million had been paid out in processed claims, and this is likely to increase as South Africa faces its second wave of infections.