The COVID-19 OHSA Directive | All You Need to Know

The Covid19 OHSA Directive issued by the Department of Employment and Labour (dated 28 April 2020) gives some much-needed guidance on what measures an employer would need to take to protect their employees against the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

This Directive places an onus on business owners and employers to conduct a Risk Assessment in consultation with the Safety Committee in place at each workplace as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Employers employing more than 500 employees are required to submit a record of its risk assessment together with a written policy concerning the protection of the health and safety of its employees from COVID-19 as contemplated in section 7(1) of OHSA to-
a. Its health and safety committee established in terms of section 19 of OHSA; and
b. The Department of Employment and LabourFrom this Risk Assessment, and in light of the Directive, employers are required to implement a plan to protect employees and members of the public by taking actions aimed at the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The obligations include the following measures:

  • Administrative Measures, such as creating policies and protocols covering symptom screening; dealing with persons showing symptoms; dealing with persons testing positive etc. These would be situated in a COVID-19 Policy, which may also incorporate specific actions from a company’s Risk Prevention Plan.
  • Social Distancing Measures, such as ensuring a minimum of 1.5 metres between workers or ensuring there are physical barriers between employees, or supplying the employee with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Health and Safety Measures, such as use of sanitizers (at least 70% alcohol), disinfectants and other measures, supplying at least 2 cloth masks, ensuring good ventilation, supplying other PPE as needed.

Unfortunately, the Directive isn’t tightly aligned to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 or the REGULATIONS FOR HAZARDOUS BIOLOGICAL AGENTS. This means we have some work to do in using the mechanisms the Act and Regulations require us to use in dealing with the new COVID-19 Directive.

With that in mind, since the issuing of the Directive, our team has created the following end-to-end solution that gives companies practical tools to implement the requirements in a strategic, logical way. These offerings include: 

  • A return to work checklist
  • A step-by-step COVID-19 specific Risk Assessment (compulsory requirement)
  • A process for applying the results of 2. to create a Risk Prevention/Reduction Plan
  • A series of protocols to deal with issues like symptom screening; dealing with persons showing symptoms; dealing with persons testing positive etc,. These would be situated in a COVID-19 Policy (which may also incorporate specific actions from a company’s Risk Prevention Plan).

If you would like to know more about the offerings, please contact Shaun Cox at shaun@gunstonstrandvik.com