The amended Occupational Health and Safety requires that all employers must provide workers with information on the dangers of Covid-19 amongst others.

The latest news from the citrus industry is the amended Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) direction for section 4(1)(i). It requires that all employers must provide workers with information on the dangers of Covid-19, the manner of transmission, measures to prevent transmission, where to go for screening and testing, the nature of vaccines used in South Africa, the benefits of being vaccinated, and the contra-indications and possible side-effects of vaccination.

This information should be in the form of pamphlets and/or posters. South Africa’s Citrus Academy has developed pamphlets and posters in different languages that can be downloaded from the Citrus Resource Warehouse (www.crw.org.za). The Citrus Growers Association also encouraged citrus farm owners to consult the Orange Heart website as all the information will be up there as well.

The revised Covid-19 OHS Direction for Workplaces was published by the Minister of Employment and Labour, in the Government Gazette, namely a new consolidated Covid-19 Direction on Occupational Health and Safety in the Workplace (Revised OHS Direction).

The Revised OHS Direction replaces the Direction that was published on the 1st of October 2020. The Revised OHS Direction came into force on, Friday the 11th of June 2021. Apart from several minor technical changes, the principal changes contained in the Revised OHS Direction concern the measures employers will be required to put in place in so far as the vaccination of workers is concerned.

Although the Revised OHS Direction does not make it mandatory for all workers to be vaccinated, it does make provision for those employers who, because of operational requirements, intend to make C19 vaccinations mandatory according to these guidelines (full guidelines can be obtained from www.crw.org.za).

Despite media reports to the contrary, there is nothing contained in the Revised OHS Direction which prohibits an employer from dismissing an employee who has been identified as high risk and who has refused to be vaccinated (and cannot be reasonably accommodated) but employers are encouraged, before considering such action, to seek legal advice given the complexities of such a dismissal.

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