On 22 June 2022, the minister of health published a notice in the government gazette in terms of which regulations to contain the spread of Covid-19 relating to the wearing of face masks, gatherings and persons entering the country, have been repealed. As per the Hazardous Biological Agent Regulations, Covid-19 is classified as a Group Three Hazardous Biological Agent. This presents a risk in respect of an agent that may cause a human disease, which presents a serious hazard to exposed persons, and which may present a risk of spreading to the community.
If there is a risk of exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace, the employer must conduct a risk assessment to determine whether employees are no longer required to wear masks and revise their workplace plan. As part of the risk assessment, employers must ensure that an employee's risk of exposure to COVID-19 is limited through appropriate workplace measures such as vaccination, the wearing of masks, practising social distancing and sanitising.
Where there is a low risk of exposure to Covid-19 in a workplace employees would not be required to wear masks. Notwithstanding this, employers should still encourage employees to continue taking necessary precautions such as social distancing and sanitising to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace.
William van Greunen: OHS Consultant - Compliance Hub