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Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Workplaces Amended

June 15, 2021

Department of Employment and Labour

An amended Consolidated Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Certain Workplaces has been drawn up.

The employment and labour department published the amended Direction in Government Gazette 44700 in terms of Disaster Management Act Regulations.

Some of the issues covered in the Direction include risk assessment and plans for protective measures; social distancing measures; symptom screening; sanitisers, disinfectants and washing of hands; cloth masks; ventilation; refusal to work due to exposure to SARS-COV-2 virus infection; monitoring and enforcing directions and sectoral protocols and guidelines.

Annexures on department links, sectoral guidelines and guidelines if an employer makes vaccination mandatory are included.

The guidelines on mandatory vaccination are designed to guide employers, employer organisations, employees, trade unions, conciliators, arbitrators and the courts in determining the fairness of a mandatory vaccination policy and its implementation.

The Directions came into effect on the date of publication.

Meanwhile, in a statement following a webinar on social relief and health and safety interventions to mitigate the effects of Covid-19, the department declared that government will, via Nedlac, call for a “speedy policy and legislative review to deal with shortcomings of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the social security safety net for workers – as exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

According to the employment and labour minister, Thulas Nxesi, the focus will be on the informal sector, atypical employees and the ‘gig economy’.

The minister added that the pandemic also “exposed the inadequate capacity of the state on many fronts as demonstrated with challenges faced with COVID-19 Temporary Employment Relief Schemes (Ters) benefits in relation to exposure to fraud and corruption”.

In terms of TERS, the department pointed out that, as at 31 March 2021, payments were made to 267,000 employers and to 5.4 million individual employees at a cost of R 58.7 billion – providing support to laid-off workers, their families and communities across the country.

In his address, the minister pointed out that efforts to promote decent work include 297,000 compliance inspections to be conducted during 2021/22, the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Bill tabled in parliament in September 2020 and the Employment Equity Amendment Bill tabled in July 2020.