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Covid-19 health and safety measures for small businesses

Employees must either be 1.5 metres apart or must have “physical barriers” between them and those showing symptoms of Covid-19 may not be allowed to work.

DURBAN – Minister of Employment & Labour has issued a revised Covid-19 Direction on Health & Safety in the Workplace. The Direction seeks to give effect to the broader lockdown regulations and to ensure that measures are consistent with the overall national strategies and policies on minimising the spread of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the government has also launched the Covid-19 Business Safety Kit, which is designed to enable Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and informal traders to operate their business safely and responsibly.

According to government, this initiative is aimed at supporting businesses, to save jobs and save the economy. Each Covid-19 Business Safety Kit contains alcohol-based hand sanitiser, re-usable cloth face masks and information on preparing and staying safe at work and when returning home.

Responding to oral questions in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said her department has formalised over 2 000 spaza shops during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This would assist the newly formalised businesses to build a credit profile, which would make them viable to access financing with banking institutions,” she said.

In ensuring that measures are consistent with the overall national strategies and policies on minimising the spread of Covid-19. Small companies with less than 10 employees are expected to follow these rules:

  • Employees must either be 1.5 metres apart or must have “physical barriers” between them.
  • Those showing symptoms of Covid-19 may not be allowed to work.
  • The employer must phone the national Covid-19 hotline in case of trouble.
  • Employees must have cloth masks.
  • Everyone must have access to soap and water, and sanitizer that can be used on workstations as well as hands.
  • Employees must be made to wash and sanitize.
  • They must also disinfect workstations regularly.
  • And companies must “take any other measures indicated by a risk assessment”.

Those with more than 500 employees have their own special requirements. For instance, large companies must submit a written risk assessment and accompanying policy to the department of labour. The Direction applies to all workplaces except mines, ships, boats or cranes and any other workplace which is regulated by a different direction on health & safety.

 

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