How can companies take the temperature of people entering their environment in a way that is non-invasive and will not jeopardise the health and safety of its workers or pupils?
We recommend the use of infrared, non-contact, forehead thermometers to minimise the risk of contact as far as possible. Prices vary from R800.00 to R1 900.00 and it is important to follow manufacturer’s guidelines such as on calibration.
Who should operate the screening thermometer and is training required?
The best person to operate the screening thermometer is the receptionist as she/he will be the first point of contact when entering the office. In a school environment, the home-room teacher should be equipped with an infrared thermometer to screen the learners. Alternatively, the appointed OHS representative or first aider could be appointed.
Training can be requested from the supplier but can also be done inhouse by using the instruction manual.
What is considered a ‘high temperature’?
The general consensus regarding COVID-19 is a temperature reading of 37.5°C and higher is considered a high temperature.
What are the clear protocols to be implemented when a person is found to have a high temperature?
Should a person display symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19, he/she must be isolated immediately in a designated isolation area the emergency numbers contacted.
How do we practically monitoring our staff/visitors for general symptoms?
One of the easiest ways is to develop a daily questionnaire (printed or electronic) that must be answered before allowing staff or visitors access to the premises. It is also important for companies to have a strict record of who enters and leaves the building for traceability; therefore, it is recommended that a sign-in register is used where staff and visitors must provide basic information and contact details.
The staff and visitor register must be scanned and saved to the company server in the relevant folder. Records must be kept for five years.
Admission to the building?
Right of admission to the building or office can be prohibited if a person refuses to undergo the screening process. Permission from the person to participate in this process is not required.
Use of Masks?
In terms of the new regulations the use of masks in the workplace, schools or retailers is now mandatory.
Masks can be made from cloth, plastic, or medical-grade (N95 or N99). The Department of Health recommends that private people refrain from using medical face masks and N95/N99 masks to avoid a shortage for essential personnel.
Masks form part of PPE and in accordance with the OHS Act and Regulations, the employers must provide PPE free of charge to employees.
Use of Gloves?
The use of gloves are not mandatory as research has shown that people not wearing gloves clean and sanitise their hands more frequently and thoroughly.
Gloves will only be compulsory if and when an employee, learner or visitor shows signs of symptoms of the Coronavirus.
Use of Signage?
It is the responsibility of the employer to inform staff and visitors about the health and safety measures that are in place. To this end, the use of signage and posters explaining the symptoms and general information of COVID-19, required PPE and sanitising locations be posted in relevant areas such as noticeboards, reception areas, ablution facilities, kitchens, pause areas and canteens.
How to ensure the dissemination of information?
All information and communication sent to staff, learners or parents regarding measures in place to protect against COVID-19 should be sent via email. It is recommended that a delivery and read receipt is attached.
Records of this communication sent, as well as induction and refresher training material and attendance registers must be kept for minimum of five years by the company. This can be done by scanning the documentation and saving on to company server and keeping hard copies and backups. This should be a joint venture between HR and OHS departments.
Who is authorised (and how) to decide whether a person has a ‘high temperature’ and/or is displaying symptoms of infection?
Employee’s temperatures must be taken at least once a day, preferably when entering the premises at the start of work. The best person to evaluate each case will be the competent appointed first aider, trained in adequate COVID-19 information and capable of dealing with a possible COVID-19 case. A short course can be created in this regard and certified/accredited.
What about POPI Act – what information can be stored and what happens with it?
Advice should be sought from a legal expert on the matter; thereafter, a decisive plan of action can be implemented. It is recommended that employees discuss underlying conditions with their line manager and HR representative to ensure that these employees are carefully monitored. The exact underlying condition does not need to be divulged but being aware of such conditions will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This must be done taking due consideration for each employee’s privacy.
How do we identify who the person came into contact with and how do we notify them?
This can only be done once the employee has been tested positive. While the tests are underway and the company is awaiting the test results, they can start with a questionnaire as to who, where and when the employee has been in contact with - taking into consideration if the employee used public transport ie taxis, trains, busses and aeroplanes.
Who attends to the infected person and what PPE must they wear?
It is important to appoint a competent, trained person as the first aider. The PPE to be worn by this first aider must include gloves, a mask and eye protection. The PPE to be worn by the sick employee must include gloves and a mask. Both the appointed first aider and employee showing signs of symptoms can substitute eye protection with a face visor.
How do we sanitise the environment where the person worked?
The person’s work station must to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised by the cleaning personnel immediately after isolation. Make sure that all employees wash and sanitise their hands regularly throughout the day. High-touch surfaces and equipment must also be cleaned and disinfected regularly throughout the day using industrial cleaning material.
If a work station is shared between employees, it must be thoroughly cleaned between shifts. In a retail environment, the work station must be cleaned after each client or sale.
How will compliance be monitored/regulated/controlled?
It is the responsibility of each employee, supervisor and line manager to ensure that procedure requirements are met and complied with.
How to practically implement social distancing in the workplace?
As per government regulations, people must maintain a minimum of 1.5 m between them, work stations should not be shared unless they have been thoroughly sanitised between users.
As per the government’s requirements, public gatherings are prohibited; therefore, it is recommended that employees be allowed to work from home as far as possible. So if you have a 100 desks on a floor, only 50 people should be allowed on the premises at any time in order to allow adequate space for social distancing.
Companies could also consider implementing shift work (eg 05:00 to 13:00 and another from 13:00 to 21:00) if working from home is not possible for staff.