EOHCB: COVID-19 National Health Regulations Repealed
Dear EOHCB Member, As of the 22nd of June 2022, the National Health Act Regulations concerning COVID-19 have been repealed. There seems to be a lot of confusion concerning employer obligations. We wish to provide employers with clarification in this regard. The National Health Act Regulations have repealed three things. The first thing which was repealed was the wearing of face masks in indoor public places. The second thing which was repealed is the restrictions on gatherings, and the third thing is the regulations about entering South Africa. Now, members, the National Health Act Regulations that have been repealed obviously do not mean that the Labour Law Regulations are repealed. In other words, the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations, as well as the Code of Practice on Managing COVID-19 in the workplace, remain part of the landscape. This is not to say that the wearing of face masks in the workplace is still required. What it does say is the following:
Employers still need to do and keep their workplace risk assessments updated.
The outcome of the risk assessments under the code of practice and the Hazardous Biological Agents regulations will then dictate your response as a business in terms of ventilation, the wearing of face masks, sanitisers, symptom screening, etc.
The regular updating of risk assessments is critical and if you are going to remove the wearing of face masks in the workplace, then you need to revisit your workplace risk assessment and workplace plan and then accordingly change your workplace regulations around Personal Protective Equipment, Ventilation, and sanitisers, etc.
We hope that this provides clarity to our members and should you wish to engage about your employer obligations in so far as COVID-19, please feel free to contact the EOHCB. We are also offering assistance with Risk Assessments considering the repeal and the fact that the Personal Care Sector is still regarded as a sector at high risk of exposure to COVID-19. Our contact details are on our website - www.eohcb.co.za
Lifting of remaining Covid-19 pandemic protocols welcomed – “let’s play it safe”: Employment and Labour Minister, Nxesi
23 June 2022 Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has taken notice of the lifting by Health Minister Joe Phaahla of the remaining Covid-19 protocols. Nxesi said the Department of Employment and Labour supports the intention. However, Nxesi cautioned that the lifting up of the remaining Covid-19 protocols does not mean employers must "adopt a cavalier attitude towards health and safety in their workplaces". Health Minister Phaahla has announced the lifting of mandatory use of masks as well as removal of restrictions on gatherings as South Africa experiences low Covid-19 infections and related deaths. "The health and safety of workers remain 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," Nxesi emphasised. 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. For media enquiries contact: Teboho Thejane Departmental Spokesperson Tel: 082 697 0694 Email: Teboho.Thejane@labour.gov.za Issued by Department of Employment and Labour
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