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On 22 June 2022, the Minister of Health, Mr Joe Phaahla, repealed the Regulations relating to the Surveillance and Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions.  These Regulations required the public to wear masks when:

  • entering and being inside an indoor public place; and
  • making use of public transport.

The burning question from many employers is whether they may continue to implement mask-wearing in the workplace.

The Code of Practice on Managing Exposure to COVID-19 in the Workplace was reissued on 24 June 2022. The Code recognises an employer’s right to implement mask-wearing in the workplace as a risk mitigation measure if this can be justified based on a risk assessment.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires an employer to provide and maintain as far as is reasonably practicable a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of employees and to take such steps as may be reasonably practicable to limit or mitigate the hazard or potential hazard.  The Code provides that these risk mitigation measures may include:

  • social distancing, including minimising the number of workers in the workplace through alternative working arrangements;
  • the use of PPE;
  • personal hygiene measures such as the wearing of masks and the use of sanitisers and surface disinfectants; and
  • any special measures to mitigate the risk of infection or serious illness or death in respect of individual employees at increased risk, such as reducing the numbers in and the duration of occupancy in meeting rooms.

The retention or abandonment of mask-wearing in the workplace should be guided by the employer’s risk assessment, which should be regularly reviewed to keep up to date with the agile Covid landscape.

Should you require any more information, please contact Melanie Hart at melanie@bv-inc.co.za .