Business & Economy

Wednesday, 03 June 2020 12:20

COVID-19 workplace readiness - are you prepared?

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COVID-19 workplace readiness - are you prepared?

Bongani Nhlapo from 21st Century gives sound advise on being prepared and ready!

“In January 2020 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease in Hubei Province, China, to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. WHO stated there is a high risk of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreading to other countries around the globe. WHO and public health authorities around the world are taking action to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

“However, long term success cannot be taken for granted. All sections of our society – including businesses and employers – must play a role if we are to manage the spread of this disease.

“It’s time for us to accept that this pandemic and social isolation, are here for a while. But in addition to that, our reality has changed, possibly for good. This more so in the workplace, agitators of change have had boardroom and academic discussions for many years on how technological advancement and evolution (read 4th Industrial Revolution) is affecting people and more specifically how we relate to the world. It took a deadly quick spreading virus to catapult humanity into a forced-new-state of normal.

“The perspective of the world of work has changed, possibly forever:

  • How both Employers and Employees view “my working space” has changed,
  • The definition of “work teams” will never be the same,
  • Access to internet connectivity is quickly being recognised as “a human right”,
  • Managing performance by “output” is now a strategic business discussion,
  • “Personal Hygiene” and “Social Distancing protocols” will make up permanent agenda items of organisational governance meetings,
  • Organisations will in most instances be compelled to review their current “Operating Models”, which means a lot of “Standard Operating Procedures/Processes” will or must change,
  • Talent retention and attraction conversations will assume a totally new trajectory as organisations think anew about critical skills definitions.

“Most employers, especially Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) will find compliance to the COVID – 19 regulatory framework extremely onerous and perhaps even costly. It is however very encouraging to see how South Africans from all walks of life have chosen to embrace the necessary and elusive balance between “preserving life and protecting livelihoods”.

“The legislative framework governing workplaces in relation to COVID – 19 is made up of the following acts:
The Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act 85 of 1993, as amended, read with the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations. Section 8 (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, Act 85 of 1993, as amended, requires the employer to provide and maintain as far as is reasonably practicable a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees. Specifically section 8(2)(b) requires steps such as may be reasonably practicable to eliminate or mitigate any hazard or potential hazard before resorting to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“Employers should prepare themselves and their employees as far in advance as possible of potentially worsening outbreak conditions. Lack of continuity planning can result in a cascade of failures as employers attempt to address challenges of COVID-19 with insufficient resources and employees who might not be adequately trained for jobs they may have to perform under pandemic conditions.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advocated basic measures for individuals to follow, to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. These include:

  • Frequent washing of hands with the recommended sanitiser or soap,
  • Correct coughing and sneezing techniques and
  • Avoiding contact with sick individuals.

“As the South African economy is gradually coming back into full swing through the various stages of reduced restrictions, the South African Government through the Department of Labour has provided minimum compliance guidelines to employers to keep infection levels down and protect lives in the workplace.

“To comply with the Government Gazette 43096 of 15 March 2020 Employers must:

  • Appoint or nominate an employee as the designate “compliance officer”,
  • Develop a COVID-19 RETURN TO WORK COMPANY POLICY that must be strictly adhered to and administered by the compliance officer. This Policy will amongst others cover the following salient issues:
    • Office hygiene prescribed conduct,
    • Conducting of daily risk & hazard assessments and keeping record,
    • Employee testing protocols,
    • What to do in case an employee displays symptoms of COVID-19,
    • Clearly define the responsibilities of all parties in the workplace.
    • Work place social distancing protocols,
    • Provision of all required PPE,
  • Keep record of risk and hazard inspections
  • Develop a detailed COVID-19 READY WORKPLACE PLAN. The workplace plan is developed, in a bid to facilitate the proper and effective application of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the COVID-19 Direction on Health and Safety in the workplace.

“We are reminded that it is through proactive action and planning that organisations and their employees can successfully resume business whilst protecting lives.”

For more information on SARS-CoV-2 you can contact the Department of Health on:

Directive No. 479 of 29 April 2020
COVID-19 (C19 OHS), 2020

Written by:
Bongani Nhlapo, Executive Director 21st Century, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About 21st Century:
21st Century is one of the largest Remuneration and HR consultancies in Africa, with a team of more than 60 skilled specialists, servicing over 1700 clients – including non-profit organisations, unlisted companies, government, parastatals and over two thirds of the companies listed on the JSE. 21st Century offers effective business planning with KPA and strategic planning reviews, creative reward practise modelling, operating modelling, change, stakeholder and culture management, training courses and comprehensive organisational development plans. 21st Century continues to offer solutions via virtual channels during the lockdown period.

In this volatile and uncertain environment, the way of working is changing dramatically. There are new – and often unprecedented – challenges that require businesses to plan rapidly and take decisive and immediate action. 21st Century offers a Resilience Audit assessing businesses during COVID-19 for their sustainability, offering these businesses tailor made solutions and developing new remuneration structures and performance measurement systems, as well as helping with managing organisational changes within the business.

-- ENDS --

Issued By: The Lime Envelope
On Behalf Of: 21st Century
For Media Information: Bronwyn Levy
Telephone: 011 467 9233
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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