The risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace depends on the likelihood of coming in close contact with others, or in having frequent physical contact with people who may be infected with COVID-19, and through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that all safety precautions are in place, and your staff and customers are protected. The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for small businesses of every kind, around the world. From loss of business entirely to finding ways to shift to e-commerce rapidly, entrepreneurs in South Africa are being forced to adapt fast.
The key to containing the spread of this virus is through education, compliance, and risk assessment. Special consideration should be given to those who are at a higher risk due to age or other underlying health conditions. All customers and employees must maintain a distance of one and a half metres from each other at all times. Work stations must be to be spaced at least one and a half metres apart – and if that isn’t possible, “solid, physical barriers” must be placed between work stations. In stores, if it isn’t possible to maintain one and half metres, workers must get a face shield or visor, or physical barriers must be installed. Companies must determine how big their floor space is in square metres, and then determine how many clients and employees can be inside at any time.
Businesses need to assign an employee as a “compliance official”. He or she needs to ensure that the company complies with the new regulations. (In shops, the name of the official must be displayed prominently in the store.) There must be hand sanitiser (with at least 70% alcohol content) for customers and employees at the entrance to the premises. If a worker interacts with the public, the worker must have sufficient supplies of hand-sanitiser at his or her workstation for both the worker and clients. Workers must sanitise their hands between each interaction with the public. Workers must wash, or sanitise, their hands regularly while at work.
There must be adequate facilities for the washing of hands with soap and clean water, but fabric towels are prohibited – paper towels must be used. Companies must disable their biometric systems or make them “Covid-19-proof”.