On Sunday, as some employers prepared to reopen their businesses under the level four lockdown regulations, Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi announced that long-term plans to fortify the department’s inspectorate have been expedited to help enforce new regulations.
His announcement came on the back of a meeting of Parliament’s portfolio committee for employment and labour on Workers’ Day, during which inspector general Aggy Moiloa said the process of employing additional inspectors was at “an advanced stage”.
The department currently has 170 inspectors in the field who, over the period of the level-five lockdown, conducted 2166 inspections.
To continue operating under level four of the lockdown, employers have to comply with a raft of health and safety measures aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19. These measures include screening workers at the beginning of every shift and the provision of at least two cloth face masks to each worker.
On Sunday, Nxesi also revealed that, since the beginning of the lockdown, the rate of compliance with Covid-19 health and safety standards by employers “has increased from 50% to over 60%”.
According to the data from the inspectorate, presented at last week’s committee meeting, there was a gradual increase in inspections over the period of the level-five lockdown. On day four of the lockdown, the rate of compliance was at 50% and by day 34 it stood at 58%.
KwaZulu-Natal health and safety inspectors have issued the highest number of notices to non-complying employers during the lockdown, by serving 19.63 notices on average each day.
The Western Cape, which issued the second-highest number of non-compliance notices, averaged 9.42 each day.