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Solidarity publishes return-to-work Covid-19 safety plan

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Solidarity publishes return-to-work Covid-19 safety plan

12th January 2021

By: Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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Trade union Solidarity has compiled and distributed a ten-point plan outlining its strategy for the return to work of hundreds of employees following the festive season.

Solidarity says the premise of the plan is that employers should be “fearless against the [Covid-19] virus”, as well as “fearless towards the saving of the economy and jobs”.

Solidarity deputy general secretary Paul Mardon says that, under the current government-instituted Covid-19 lockdown regulations, and with a few exceptions, most employees may return to work after the holidays.

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“Our ten-point plan is within the statutory framework of the Covid-19 regulations. This plan does not make a choice between work and health, but rather a choice towards healthy work.”

However, he also acknowledges that the risks in terms of Covid-19 “look completely different” than what South Africa was experiencing in the start of December and before people went on leave.

As such, Mardon says the return of employees who were on holiday and at their homes, brings new risks to the workplace.

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Further, the second wave of Covid-19 infections has also not yet reached its peak, thereby exacerbating the situation.

Although Solidarity’s ten-point plan takes the risk of the second wave into account, it also aims to protect existing jobs. As such, Solidarity claims that its ten-point plan provides for proper risk analyses.

In this regard, the plan’s health and safety in the workplace’s core pillar, is risk management. This plan proposes various ways to manage risks, including reviewing protocols with the new challenges of Covid-19 taken into account. The plan also advises that employees should continue working from home where possible.

At work, employers and employees must strictly adhere to other health protocols, such as disinfecting workstations, washing and disinfecting hands, keeping record of people entering the workplace, maintaining a healthy distance and ensuring good ventilation.
 
Special measures must also be put in place to protect vulnerable employees and the return to the workplace should take place in phases, states Solidarity, which adds that employees must also realise that safety and health start at home.
 
The ten-point plan flows from Solidarity’s code of good practice: measures to ensure healthy decent return to work during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

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