Thulas Nxesi, South Africa’s Employment and Labour Minister, has warned employers not to be cavalier about health and safety in the workplace now that the remaining Covid-19 protocols have been lifted.
This cautionary statement follows on from Health Minister Joe Phaahla having recently announced the lifting of the mandatory use of masks, as well as the removal of restrictions on gatherings as South Africa experiences low Covid-19 infections and related deaths.
Said Nxesi: "The health and safety of workers remains a priority for our labour market. The Code of Practice on the Management of Exposure to Sars-Cov-2 in the Workplace remains the guiding principle on matters of health and safety in the workplace and is still the responsibility of all leaders to design an inclusive environment that promotes safety and makes workers comfortable in the workplace."
The Code provides a guide to employers and workers as to what are reasonably practicable measures in managing SARS-CoV-2 (the Covid virus). Hazardous biological agents, of which the SARS-Cov-2 is one, are regulated by the Regulations for Hazardous Biological Agents.
This Regulation places a statutory obligation on employers to conduct a risk assessment to determine measures to limit infection and transmission and mitigate the risk of serious illness or death of an employee or other persons who may be directly affected by the activities of the workplace, such as visitors, customers, and contractors.