Covid-19: Solidarity’s 10-point plan for a safe workplace
By Reon Janse van Rensburg
We kicked off 2020 in a normal way with the usual traditions. However, on the news there were reports of a strange virus who made its appearance in China, yet amidst many other news reports and challenges in South Africa we have tackled this year with a different attitude than we ended it. In March 2020 the first Corona infection in South Africa is announced.
The government announces a drastic lockdown with draconic regulations. The world changes overnight and we had to get used to a new normal and new way of living and working.
Amidst several uncertainties and difficult decisions, we had to find a way to not only survive the Covid-19 pandemic, but to also find a way to return to our workplaces where we not only want to survive, but also flourish. Solidarity compiled a comprehensive plan in 2020 that enables both employers and employees to return to work safely.
Solidarity’s 10-point plan (click here) is adapted to apply even in the second wave we are experiencing at the beginning of 2021 where cases are drastically surging, and it enables all those who want to work to safely return to work. The premise of the plan is that employers should be fearless against the virus, but also fearless for the economy’s growth and work.
This 10-point plan is a result from Solidarity’s Code of Good Practice: Measures to ensure healthy decent return to work during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
This 10-point plan provides for proper risk analysis. Health and safety in the workplace’s core pillar is risk management. This plan proposes various ways to manage risks, including reviewing protocols with the new challenges of Covid-19 offer. The plan also suggests that employees still, where possible, should work from home.
According to Paul Mardon, Deputy General Secretary at Solidarity, some employees are allowed to return to work, subject to the current regulations and with some exceptions. He mentions that Solidarity’s 10-point plan falls within the statutory framework of the Covid-19 regulations and that the plan does not require a choice between work and health, but rather is a choice for healthy work.
Mardon also added that the risks in terms of Covid-19 look completely different than in December when many employees went on holiday. He said the return of employees who were on holiday and at home brings new risks to the workplace especially since the new wave of infection has not reached its peak yet.
“Solidarity’s 10-point plan takes into account the risk of the new Covid-19 wave, but also protects people’s work.” – Paul Mardon, Deputy General Secretary, Solidarity.
According to Mardon, other health protocols such as disinfecting workstations, washing and disinfecting hands, keeping record of people entering the workplace, maintaining a healthy distance (at least 1,5 meters), and ensuring good ventilation, must be strictly adhered to.
According to Solidarity’s 10-point plan special measures must be taken to protect vulnerable employees and the return to the office should also take place in phases. Employees must also realise that safety and health begins at home.
Follow this link to download Solidarity’s 10-point plan which makes provision for a safe and healthy workplace amidst the pandemic: https://solidariteit.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2021-01-09-SOLIDARITEIT-10-PUNT-PLAN-GESONDE-VEILIGE-TERUGKEER-NA-WERK.docx.pdf
Together we are free, safe and prosperous!