NATIONAL NEWS - The department of employment and labour announced on Monday that it has shut down two retailers, one in the Pretoria central business district (CBD), after it was discovered that the working cashiers did not have protective masks as per regulations implemented during the nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.
The other store which was shutdown was USave in Frances Baard.
The department’s occupational health and safety inspector in Gauteng was on Monday conducting blitz inspections at major retail outlets in the Pretoria CBD.
“The intention for conducting the blitz inspections is to check whether employers are complying with the [Occupational Health and Safety Act], more especially considering the Covid-19 pandemic,” the department said in a statement on Monday.
Provincial Chief Inspector for Gauteng advocate Michael Msiza said during the inspection, the focus would be on two regulations under the act, namely, the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations and the Environmental Management in the Workplace regulation.
Msiza said the two regulations would assist in efforts put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 because the coronavirus was a “biological agent”.
He said in terms of clause six and seven of the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations, an employer must ensure they have conducted a risk assessment, which must be completed with Covid-19 regulations being considered and thereafter provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees.
The regulations that have been put in place amid the Covid-19 outbreak include that people should stay a metre away from each other.
“When we went to Shoprite and USave we found those cashiers not to have [masks], so our conclusion was that it is very difficult to keep that metre away because customers are paying there and as they are paying they get too close to the cashiers and that creates a problem,” said Msiza.
One of the shops, he said, had conducted a risk assessment, however, in it, the employer said masks were not necessary because the metre distance would be observed.
“But we are saying it is not practical because as you talk to a customer, a customer… gets closer to the cashiers to the extent that they break the one-metre line,” Msiza said.
He added that employers operating stores must ensure that there are barriers or that employees are provided with masks.
The two outlets have been prohibited from continuing with operations until they either “secure the space in terms of barriers or in terms of providing the respirators [masks]”, Msiza said.
“It should be [the employer’s] duty to approach us to say ‘I have done what you said I must do’. It is only when we issue out a contravention notice that we will say ‘no, by this time we will come back and check’,” he said, adding that if these were not addressed the two outlets would “remain prohibited”.