COVID-19 Risk Assessments
- COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that is spread primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks (droplet transmission).
- COVID-19 is classified as a Group 4 Hazardous Biological Agent (HBA), i.e. a HBA that causes severe human disease and is a serious hazard to exposed persons and which may present a high risk of spreading to the community, but for which no effective prophylaxis and treatment is available.
- The Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations (2001) forms part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (No. 85 of 1993).
- These regulations stipulate that, in workplaces where employees are likely to be exposed to HBA’s, employers are required, among other things, to provide information and training, conduct a risk assessment, monitor exposure, conduct medical surveillance and control exposure to HBA’s.
- The new hazard posed by COVID-19 is clearly identifiable and the basic measures to eliminate or minimise the risk are well known.
- A new directive, namely COVID-19 Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Workplaces, was published by the Department of Employment and Labour on 29 April 2020.
- The objective of conducting or updating a risk assessment in respect of COVID-19 is to provide specific focus on COVID-19 and adapt the measures required by this Directive to specific working environments taking into account the Risk Assessment Guides published online by the National Department of Health.