General Principles If The Workplace Is Open
Some of the employer’s obligations
1. In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 (‘OHSA’), an employer is obliged to, as far as reasonably practicable, create and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of its employees.
2. It is thus advised that employers develop contingency plans that include, at least, the following:
2.1 the prohibition of physical contact;
2.2 the supply of hand sanitation lotion;
2.3 limitation on meetings; and
2.4 encouraging employees not to come to work if they feel sick (the current sick leave policy should apply or, alternatively, be relaxed).
3. On 17 March 2020, the Minister of Employment and Labour required that all employers should conduct a health and safety risk assessment in consultation with their employees to ensure a healthy workplace during this period.
Joint responsibility of the employer and its employees
4. The employer and employee are jointly responsible for health at the workplace and, therefore, they must jointly proactively identify the risks and develop control measures to make the workplace safe, if it is to stay open during the period of the lockdown.
5. It is thus advised that joint policies should be adopted to curb the spread of the coronavirus should the workplace be open during the lockdown period in circumstances where, for instance, the employer is engaged in essential service delivery.
…/continues in article 2 of 4
It is apparent that government initially took the viewpoint that vaccination against Covid-19 should not be compulsory. However, it appears that the recently-promulgated Consolidated Directions on Occupational Health and Safety Measures (‘the Directions’) signifies a very different approach.