The Labour Department said that it would not only shut down companies that did not follow strict health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces but could also criminally charge employers.
Over one million South African workers returned to their posts on Monday morning following the easing of lockdown conditions to allow the resumption of business activity as the economy continues to suffer.
The Labour Department’s chief inspector for occupational health and safety, Tibor Szana, said that while they were willing to work with employers to ensure that they met the safety requirements to curb the spread of COVID-19, there were some offenses they would not tolerate.
“It’s not just about us closing down the company. The employer could be failing to deal with the issue and he could, in fact, be closing his own business if workers become infected. We’re dealing with companies that have 30 to 50 infected people and that have tested positive at workplaces.”
There have been concerns by labour organisations about employers’ willingness to comply with the COVID-19 guidelines given their poor track record at adhering to existing occupational health and safety regulations.
Szana said that in this case employers had no choice but to comply as the confirmation of positive cases of COVID-19 in workplaces would lead to the immediate shut down of the companies.
For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.