PROCEDURES AND PRODUCTS YOU NEED TO RE-OPEN YOUR BUSINESS
Many South African business owners and their employees are breathing a small sigh of relief as we move towards lower lockdown levels and the opportunity to reopen businesses. However, it is still not business as usual as South Africa now has official ‘health and safety’ workplace regulations to curb the spread of COVID-19, which will remain in place until the national state of disaster is called off.
Regulations include general requirements to minimise the number of staff on site at any one time through shift rotation and remote working, and to minimise contact between employees, as well as between employees and the public.
BRIGHTS Hardware, a family owned chain of hardware stores in the Western Cape that has been trading during level four lockdown (as permitted by government regulations), offers some health and safety advice and guidance to other South African businesses preparing to re-open.
“Smaller companies face far less onerous regulations than their bigger counterparts,” says Orlando Luis, CEO of BRIGHTS. “And those with more than 500 employees have their own special requirements to adhere to – such as submitting a written risk assessment and accompanying policy to the department of labour,” adds Luis who explains some of the regulations for smaller companies below:
1) Employees and customers must either be 1.5 metres apart or must have physical barriers between them
“Employers are responsible for this physical distancing, or social distancing, and must put measures in place to ensure people’s safety,” says Luis. “Measures include social distance guidance stickers in queue systems, facial shields or Perspex counter screen and dividers, and limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time. Staff can also be divided into groups that have staggered break-times to avoid a concentration of workers in the common areas.”
2) Employees and customers must be screened
“Customers are screened for fever upon entry to the business premises with an infra-red digital forehead thermometer – anyone with an elevated temperature is not allowed to enter.”
“Employees are not only checked for fever but must also be screened for any of the other observable symptoms associated with Covid-19 such as cough, sore throat, redness of eyes and difficulty breathing. Those showing symptoms are not allowed to work,” advises Luis, “and the employer must phone the national Covid-19 hotline to facilitate testing of the employee.”
Companies are required to report any employees diagnosed with the virus to both the department of health and the department of employment and labour. They must then investigate the cause of infection, including any control failure in the workplace.
3) Employees and customers must wear masks
“Every employee must get two fabric face masks, free of charge, from their employer for use both at work and while commuting. The employer must also make all necessary arrangements for all PPE required for every work task,” says Luis. “Alternatively, disposable surgical masks can be used but must be disposed of appropriately after use.”
“All customers entering a business are required to wear a mask and admission must be denied to anyone not wearing a mask.”
4) Everyone must have access to soap and water, and sanitiser that can be used on workstations as well as hands
Luis advises that employees must be made to wash their hands regularly and use hand sanitiser in-between washes and between customers. “All workstations must be thoroughly disinfected regularly, as well as all common areas in the workplace, bathrooms, entrance areas, trolleys etc. using suitable sanitising and disinfecting products.”
“Only paper towel is allowed for wiping, drying and disinfecting – the use of fabric towelling is prohibited. Customers entering the premises are also required to use hand sanitiser which must be provided by the business.”
In addition to the above, Luis explains that a Covid-ready Workplace Plan and Policy must be developed prior to the reopening of any business.
“For small businesses, the plan and policy can be basic, reflecting the size of the business, while for medium and larger businesses, a more detailed written plan should be developed given the larger numbers of persons at the workplace.”
The Plan for medium and large businesses must include information such as the date the business will open and the business hours; the timetable setting out the phased return-to-work of employees; the steps taken to get the workplace Covid-19 ready; a list of staff who can work from home, staff who are 60 years or older, and staff with co-morbidities who will be required to stay at home or work from home; arrangements for sanitary and social distancing measures; screening and testing facilities and systems; and staff rotational arrangements. Every company should appoint and train a Health and Safety representative on the COVID19 protocols and thereafter train every employee and complete the Worker Health and Safety Risk assessment, followed by the Covid-19 Walk- though Workplace Risk assessment. These documents are available by downloading them from Google or from the Department of Health Website.
“Companies must keep a copy of their plan around for inspection and must have a designated Covid-19 compliance officer under the general regulations,” says Luis.
Product suggestions for workplace readiness
To help South African businesses operate safely BRIGHTS has sourced and stocked up on a large range of relevant supplies and safety equipment – such as masks, face shields, sanitisers, spray bottles, counter dividers, infra-red thermometers, and social distance guidance stickers – everything needed to safely return to work, including some innovative new to market items that will assist with disinfecting larger surface areas.
- Face shields in different qualities
- Clear plastic safety goggles
- Branded black and beige washable fabric 3-ply face masks
- Sets of 50 x 3-ply disposable surgical masks
- Clear Perspex 600 x 600 mm x 3mm counter dividers
- Dekro 70% alcohol sanitiser in 5L
- Alcosan sanitiser from 100ml to 5L
- Wildchem Blue coloured sanitiser in 5L and 1L
- 25L pine antiseptic disinfectant
- 25L chlorine based disinfectant
- Sprayer, with 1.5Ah battery and charger, for larger surface area disinfection
- Ryobi spray gun to clean and disinfect
- Social distancing guidance stickers for retailers
- 750 ml spray bottles with trigger
- 750 ml plain spray bottles
- 1L or 2L Makhro pressure spray bottles
- Infra-red digital forehead thermometers
- Additional Hardware and Framework to create barriers and shields
BRIGHTS Hardware has on-site experts in all of their stores to provide advice and guidance on these products and what best suits your business’s needs. The public can also send through questions and queries to BRIGHTS experts via email and through social media. “Whatever you may be wanting to know about preparing your business to re-open our knowledgeable staff members can provide you with all the product insights and information you need.”
BRIGHTS stores are located in Boston, Blackheath, Langebaan, Mitchells Plain, Montague Park, Plattekloof, Uitzicht and Brackengate. Health and Safety products are also available on the online store www.brights.co.za/online-shop. For more information visit www.brights.co.za.
Larger businesses looking for advice or guidance on health and safety products, or wanting to purchase health and safety products in Bulk can contact Russell Benadie at BRIGHTS Industrial and Wholesale Suppliers division on 021 907 8308 or email [email protected].