As the lockdown eases, more workplaces and educational centres are returning to work. GRAHAM PEARSON, chairperson of the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, provides guidance on how to provide healthy, safe and socially distanced OSH training
Because training centres are considered to be workplaces, training service providers must adhere to Government Gazette 43257 – Disaster Management Act (57/2002): Covid-19 Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Workplaces.
The following measures are required:
• A Covid-19 management plan;
• A Covid-19 risk assessment;
• Employee training on Covid-19 risk assessments;
• Covid-19 employee training; and
• The appointment of a Covid-19 compliance officer.
The Covid-19 management plan should spell out what steps will be taken to protect your employees and delegates. It should also cover the following:
All surfaces and objects must be disinfected before employees (apart from cleaners) and delegates enter the training centre.
These include desks, tables, chairs, door handles, toilets, toilet door handles, hand basins, taps, doorknobs, light switches, working surfaces and railings. Other objects – telephones, keyboards, pens, cutlery, and crockery – should also be cleaned.
Cleaning should be carried out with a bleach solution (half a cup of bleach to five litres of water) or something similar. A 70% alcohol-based disinfectant is also permissible.
The cleaners should be provided with latex gloves, a face shield or mask, a plastic apron and disposable cleaning cloths.
They should also be trained on the correct methods of cleaning surfaces.
For example, where possible, surfaces should be cleaned down with a detergent and water and thereafter wiped down with a disinfectant. The disinfectant should not be wiped off. Ideally this should be done as often as possible, but at least twice a day.
Cleaners should be trained on the safe use of chemicals.
Each classroom should be set up to ensure there is at least 2m between each delegate and the facilitator.
Ideally, tables should be “staggered”, to ensure that delegates do not sit one behind the other.
Management of employees, facilitators and delegates
Everyone should be screened before they attend a class. This can be done by completing questions on the Department of Health’s Healthcheck app.
The links are as follows:
• USSD – *134*832*2#
• WhatsApp – 0600110000, send ‘hi’
• On the web – healthcheck.higherhealth.ac.za
Answer all the questions until you receive a green banner – you are then cleared to attend your class.
If you get any other message, please do not attend the class, and visit your doctor.
At the class
Employees and facilitators should be screened before entering the training centre. Their temperature should be taken and they should be asked Covid-19-related questions.
Where an employee’s or facilitator’s temperature is above 38°C, or they answer yes to any of the questions, they will need to be isolated from everyone else.
The employer or a representative should then contact the Coronavirus Official Toll-Free Hot-Line Call Centre on 0800 029 999. Instructions will then be provided by the call centre on how to manage the isolated person and what transport arrangements would need to be made.
Delegates should be treated in the same manner. Under no circumstances must delegates be allowed into the training centre until their temperature has been taken and the Covid-19 screening undertaken.
The temperature can be taken either on the forehead or on the neck, below the ear.
If the person’s temperature reads below 34°C, their temperature must be taken again until a reading higher than 34°C is obtained.
Hand sanitising must be undertaken once the person has been screened. Each classroom should also be equipped with a hand sanitiser.
Each person entering the premises must be wearing a face mask, correctly, and must always keep it on – except when they’re eating or drinking refreshments.
Refreshments and meals
Meals and snacks should not be provided. Delegates should bring their own food. Plastic knives and forks might have to be supplied for these meals.
Drinks should be served in disposable cups and with plastic spoons. Instead of self-service, each delegate should be served by a member of staff to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Delegates should dispose of their own cups and spoons in a plastic-lined refuse bin.
Tables and chairs in the eating area should be disinfected before and after use.
Posters should be displayed in all areas of the training centre.
These posters should:
• Inform workers of the dangers of the Covid-19 virus;
• Explain how the virus is transmitted;
• Inform workers of ways to prevent transmission – such as personal hygiene, social distancing, use of masks and respiratory etiquette (eg, do not cough or sneeze near someone else);
• List where to go for screening or testing if any symptoms arise.
Natural ventilation should be used wherever reasonably practicable. Split-unit air conditioners should not be used in the classrooms, as they may recycle contaminated air containing the coronavirus.
Training should commence with educating the delegates on Covid-19. These should cover:
• Introduction to Covid-19;
• Characteristics of the virus;
• Routes of transmission;
• Ways to minimise the risk of infection; and
• Contact procedures if a person shows related symptoms.
Covid-19 risk assessment
This risk assessment should take into consideration all activities undertaken for training and the control measures that will be implemented.
Covid-19 compliance officer
A member of the company should be appointed to oversee the following:
• Implementation of the Covid-19 management plan;
• Adherence to the standards of hygiene and health protocols relating to Covid-19 at the workplace.
The Covid-19 virus remains on plastic and steel for 72 hours. Refuse should be placed in a bin with a plastic bin liner. These bags should be sealed with a pull string and disposed.
What is the current situation for first aid provision?
The Department of Employment and Labour hasn’t made any changes to the regulations regarding OSH regulatory training, with the exception of forklift training. Thus, employers should review their first aid needs assessment and maintain adequate first aid provision for those continuing to operate in the workplace.
Can I deliver OSH training online?
The Quality Council of Trade & Occupations (QCTO) released a document regarding online or e-Learning. SETAs may have different requirements or rules and you should refer to them for further guidance on unit standard based training.
Saiosh’s view is that OSH training that is delivered solely online is not permitted; however, a "blended learning" approach remains acceptable. For online training to be successful, the appropriate equipment, environment and support must be made available to both centres and learners.
No practical assessments for these qualifications can be taken online. The remainder of the course must be delivered and assessed in the classroom.
*This article was originally published by the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Saiosh) and sent out via its Covid-19 OHS Training Newsletter. Be sure to visit the Saiosh website for more enticing articles.