Implementing the Hotspot Strategy to ensure safer workplaces

On Tuesday (26 May 2020) I visited businesses in Dunoon, one of the Covid-19 hotspots in the Western Cape, to see how these businesses were implementing the necessary safety measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 and hear from them the challenges they face in ensuring customers maintain these safety measures.

This visit was part of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism’s operational plan to support the Western Cape government’s targeted Hotspot Strategy which focuses the entire provincial government’s impact on geographical areas where the virus is spreading, in order to slow it down and protect vulnerable people.

The department’s role in the Hotspot Strategy is specifically to assist businesses in slowing the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace, and to ensure economic recovery in the hotspot areas.

In addition to the work already done to support businesses in the Western Cape since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, we will also do the following to slow the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace in hotspot areas:

  • Provide businesses in hotspot areas, especially those that are high-risk, with health guidelines and materials that display information on safety measures in the workplace,
  • Monitor the compliance of businesses in implementing safety measures in the hotspot areas through reporting mechanisms that allow the public to report non-compliance such as an online form,
  • Assist businesses to access the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by connecting them with suppliers through our PPE marketplace, and
  • Identify and resolve systemic issues making it a challenge for businesses to implement the necessary safety measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

 

As part of our economic recovery plan for the hotspots, we will also be zoning in on businesses in these areas to ensure they access the support we’ve put in place to adapt and survive during this crisis such as:

  • our SupportFinder tool which helps businesses navigate and apply for the available financial relief packages,
  • our Jump for entrepreneurs smartphone app which provides valuable advice, networks and tools for those who run a business, or who wish to start a business,
  • our Tech Volunteers Programme which connects businesses who want to become more digital with industry experts for free two-hour advisory consultations, and
  • our #GoDigitalWC webinars which brings leading experts in digital technology and business transformation to present ideas and advice for SMMEs on how they can adapt and innovate during Covid-19.

The more businesses that are able to operate safely during the Alert Levels, the sooner we can get people working again, and the sooner we will move towards an economic recovery in the Western Cape.

To avoid a return to tighter restrictions it is imperative that every employer and employee in a business that is operating now, or which opens under the new alert levels, plays by the rules, and implements the necessary health and safety measures as instructed by national government to avoid further negative impacts on their respective sector.

Businesses can view the guidelines and resources developed by the Department of Health to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace here: https://coronavirus.westerncape.gov.za/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-how-prevent-and-manage-covid-19-infections

Some of the key safety measures that we’re asking all businesses to implement include the following:

  • Develop a workplace safety plan before they re-open and implement any necessary changes to the workplace in advance of re-opening
  • Include details in the safety plan on how these businesses will implement hygiene and social distancing measures; how they will screen employees on arrival each day, how they will assist employees to quarantine or isolate, and how they will assist with contact tracing if employees test positive.
  • Identify and explore ways of protecting employees that are at risk, such as those who are over 60 years and / or who suffer from underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer, either by enabling them to work from home where possible, changing the nature of their work, isolating their area of work or placing them on paid special leave if the other options are unavailable
  • Consider allowing all employees who can work from home to do so
  • Implement staggered and non-interacting shift work, and / or divide teams into smaller units to reduce the spread of infections and to minimise impacts on business operations should infections occur
  • Stagger working hours for employees and provide transport for employees where possible to help reduce congestion on public transport and reduce exposure to infection of employees. Where workers are using public transport, advise and encourage safe practices for using public transport
  • Spread out and closely monitor all communal break areas such as canteens and smoke break areas to ensure maintenance of safe practices.
  • Get employees to share their knowledge with their families and friends and encourage good practices outside of the workplace.

For assistance in understanding the regulations, guidance on workplace safety or help navigating the financial relief packages email us at supportbusiness@wesgro.co.za