IMPORTANT! COVID 19-HEALTH AND SAFETY LEGAL ISSUES
As you are probably aware, 1/3 of your stakeholders or staff can return to work or organizational activities through the implementation of the Level 4 lockdown on 1st May 2020. Some Organizations may think that it will be OK just to issue personal protective equipment to their staff and stakeholders in the form of face masks and gloves then normal business can continue. One of the first legal cases relating to Employers liability in COVID 19 was recently concluded in Illinois, in the US. The Employee had claimed that he had contracted COVID 19 in the workplace and was therefore entitled to compensation. This was challenged by the Employer. The outcome in the case was that the court ruled the burden of proof in terms of precautions taken against COVID 19 in the workplace LAY WITH THE EMPLOYER (or Organization). In this case the Employer had failed to implement proper precautions fully and then went on further reinforce their guilt by implementing proper Health and Safety protocol after the "horse had bolted". Since our Occupational Health and Safety Act in South Africa has a similar structure to the US equivalent, the outcome of future cases in South Africa is likely to be much the same.
You will have heard the State President, Cyril Ramaphosa, last night speaking of the proper implementation of workplace risks analysis and the associated Heath and Safety Protocol. It is NOT sufficient to just issue personal protective equipment, Organizations need to go much further than that, by example, just to quote a few:
There have already been guidelines issue by the Department of Labour and the National Institute for Occupational Health, most of them compulsory and important to implement properly. Not only can this keep your stakeholders safe but also to keep your organization going!
Please contact us if we can help guide you through this process.
When the COVID 19 lockdown in South Africa is done (whenever that might be) we will all have to return to the normal working environment. The end of the lockdown does not mean that we are no longer at risk of infection from the virus. Some organizations providing essential services are already working through the crisis period.
Everyone from the top, to the bottom of any Organization will remain at risk, and as employers, we are compelled (under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993) to ensure that these risks are minimized in the workplace. This will include the following, to mention a few:
Unfortunately, just providing employees with face masks and gloves and hoping for the best is not enough, it just scratches the surface what needs to be done and as required by the legislated requirements.
The World Health Organization has identified that Health and Safety Practitioners are front line responders to this crisis in the workplace. In light of this we have prepared training material and other resources to assist your organization, which we can either present through a Webinar, or on site training and risk assessments services (observing the correct distance protocols). The material we have is based upon information provided by the National Institute for Occupational Health in South Africa and the World Health Organization and is kept up-to-date on a regular basis.
If we can help you with this, please contact us for further information.