Thulas Nxesi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Thulas Nxesi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

As millions of workers return to work on Monday under level 4 lockdown restrictions, employers will be required to implement stringent measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 in their workplaces.

Under the government’s risk-adjusted strategy in the lockdown, level 4 will allow the return to work of specified businesses under strict conditions.

Employment & labour minister Thulas Nxesi warned at a media briefing on Sunday that employers who failed to comply with the minimum measures contained in a directive he issued late last week may be ordered to close down.

“In returning to work it will not be business as usual,” he stressed. The department of employment & labour's inspectors will be inspecting premises to ensure that there is compliance.

The minister also stressed that the required health and safety measures had to be implemented by businesses before workers returning to their workplaces.

The measures include requirements on screening of workers for symptoms of Covid-19 when they report for work, social distancing and the provision of personal protective equipment such as hand sanitisers and masks. Workers who test Covid-19 positive will have to report this and be sent home.

With regard to social distancing, a minimum distance of 1.5m must be maintained between workers and where this is not possible a physical barrier must be erected. Workplaces must be well ventilated.

Nxesi said that all employers will have to undertake a risk assessment of their individual workplaces and formulate a clear plan to implement the required measures contained in the directive.

Employers are obliged to notify employees of the contents of the directive and how it will be implemented. A manager will have to be appointed to address the concerns of employees and workplace representatives.

Shops and other workplaces to which the public have access must screen all people entering the workplace.

Employers must provide sufficient quantities of hand sanitiser and ensure that work surfaces, equipment and other common areas are disinfected and there must be adequate facilities for handwashing.

Workers will be obliged to wear masks at work and members of the public entering the workplace will have to do likewise. Employers will have to provide employees with at least two cloth masks free of charge.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za