The guidelines are applicable to all workers in the country, including those on quarry and construction sites.
The department of health says the aim of the guidelines is to enable: early identification and diagnosis of workers at risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection; early referral for appropriate treatment, care and timely return to work of affected workers; and the protection of other unaffected workers, consumers, visitors and clients of these groups of workers.
The updated guidelines, issued in December, feature five new additions.
1. The list of symptoms, aligned to the latest National Institute for Communicable Diseases guideline, and to the Department of Employment and Labour Consolidated OHS Directive of 28 September 2020, has been inserted into the Procedure section. It can be used for screening purposes and forms the basis for referral to a health professional for further evaluation.
2. Due to possible changing legislation, reference to specific legal requirements governing sick leave has been removed from the text, since the procedure may vary from workplace to workplace.
3. The use of the Symptom Monitoring Sheet for workers in quarantine or isolation has been further clarified.
4. The Symptom Monitoring Sheet has been modified, the recording of respiratory rate has been removed as it cannot be easily monitored, while the recording of temperature is only necessary should a thermometer be available to the worker in quarantine/isolation.
5. Headache, while being a non-specific symptom, appears to be a commonly presenting symptom in patients with COVID-19, and has been added to the Symptom Monitoring Sheet for completeness.
Nico Pienaar, director of South African surface mining industry association Aspasa, has said that the pandemic has accelerated the application of health & safety principles such as the need for basic hygiene, disease identification, emergency response readiness, training and many other aspects to the level where it can effectively mitigate many of the risks of transmission of the disease.