Preparing Your Business for the New Normal – COVID-19 Compliance
The only constant is change and businesses are advised to stay abreast of compliance requirements which Government has implemented to ensure that they can operate effectively under the new directives which have been issued. Regulations about the Occupational Health and Safety Act instituted by the Department of Employment and Labour must be adhered to during and post lockdown. Vortex Design Solutions works closely with their OHS specialist to provide salient and affordable solutions for businesses across industries who are not compliant at this stage.
From risk assessment for social distancing office preparation and providing a cost-effective action plan ensuring it covers a full list of protocols required. We elaborate further on these requirements to assist you in making best practice decisions for the operation of your business and the well being of your employees or the public who may visit your premises.
The new OHS directive is to implement social distancing protocols to make the workspace safer to re-enter. To ascertain your business-specific requirements a professional risk assessment is required as each business and building is unique. An assessment will result in an action plan tailor-made for your office to adapt to being compliant. Vortex Design Solutions under the guidance of our OHS specialist can offer affordable and practical solutions to our clientele. Whilst the new directive may not be enforceable, from government, on the basis that the manpower to train respective officers or inspectors would be limited in this short period. We strongly advise that the employer be responsible for enforcing their protocol for the safety of their staff and/or interactions with the public.
It bodes well for new landlords and tenants regarding their current OHS certificate to understand that new compliance legislation, in respect of social distancing and post lockdown readiness in line with the Occupational Health and Safety, does not render their office compliant in terms of Section 7 of the National Building Regulations and Buildings Standards Act No 103 of 1977. A building that was not compliant to the aforementioned regulations before lockdown will not be compliant now, by the mere addition of social distancing protocols.
Social distancing protocols include but are not limited to:
- COVID-19 existing business risk assessment
- Identifying controls to prevent infection and lowering the spreading of the disease
- Action Steps: How to implement these controls identified for example
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Screening of Employees and Customers
- COVID-19 Employee Training Material
- Adequate signage including posters & communication
- Continuous monitoring of staff and visitors
- What to do should a worker be infected
Vortex Design Solutions is well able to customise a plan and risk assessment for your business including a complete walkthrough inspection and the roll-out of the required solution suited to your specific needs.
In addition to this, we could assist with obtaining an Occupational Certificate from the relevant authorities which pertain to your building or tenancy on the premises. This service includes assessing the current state of the premises, liaising with the relevant professionals, devising the plan and putting it into action to obtain an occupancy certificate. In addition, we manage the municipal approval process, which is essential to the issuing of the occupational certificate.
Where applicable the following certificates will be required with your application.
- Electrical compliance
- Mechanical ventilation system compliance
- Structural system compliance
- Fire protection system compliance
- Fire signage installation compliance
In lieu of the regulatory changes due to COVID-19 that affect the Occupational Health and Safety Act, we are still researching as to potential legal ramifications for industries and sectors who fail to comply. This does not relinquish the responsibility of the employer to his employees who will expect the new OHS Act and protocols being implemented primarily for their health and safety.
Failure to adhere to protocols that prevent infection and lower the spread of COVID-19 at the grassroots level makes your business vulnerable to the risk of employees falling ill and increasing local transmission to the remainder of your healthy workforce resultant in a negative impact on generating revenue.
Lack of adequate screening of both employees or visitors increases the possibility that should infection be detected you are unable to do the real-time tracing, based on who entered your building, who the infected person was in contact with and specific areas they visited for decontamination purposes and which specific staff members require quarantine and can be monitored.
We are creatures of habit and need constant reminders not to revert to old habits that may increase the rate of infection. Signage and Posters inside your premises increase the awareness that people should improve hygiene habits by washing their hands frequently and not touching their face. Without visible reminders, it will undo the messaging and habits everyone has promoted up until this point.
It is in the best interest of employees to be adequately trained to take responsibility for both their health and safety and that of their colleagues by empowering them to have a positive inclusive safety culture within the workplace.
For a more comprehensive overview of regulations about various levels of Alert, SMME’s can review the guidelines as stated in this article by following the link. Of particular interest is question 1 which directs you to Government regulations and guidelines applicable to COVID-19 and the lockdown: