49% of workplaces ‘poorly prepared’ for Covid-19

Only 16% compliant with health & safety

11 August 2020 | Labour

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

Inspections by the ministry of labour found that only 16% of workplaces complied with occupational safety and health standards, while up to 49% workplaces were found to be poorly prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic.

This comes at a time when Namibia has recorded over 3 100 Covid-19 cases, including 19 fatalities. The country recorded 152 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, which brought the national tally to 3 101 confirmed cases.

Of the new cases, 73 are from Windhoek. Notably 28 of the new cases are from the same locality, which was not named in yesterday’s health ministry update. A total of 10 cases were reported from one household and four cases are healthcare workers. Five of the country’s active cases are severely ill and six patients are in a critical condition.

Low compliancy

The labour ministry’s quarterly report further found that medical and pharmaceutical establishments were the most compliant, at 45%, followed by the retail sector which achieved a 38% compliance rate.

On the other hand, the agriculture sector was one of the least compliant, with 66% of farms visited found poorly prepared for the pandemic.

“During this period, the ministry conducted 503 occupational safety and health inspections, of which 112 were regular inspections while 391 were Covid-19-specific inspections targeting the sectors that are considered as high-risk sectors. These inspections covered a combined total of 9 908 employees,” the report states.

Job losses

The report states that 1 816 people were retrenched for reasons related to the Covid-19 pandemic, while 3 932 were retrenched for other reasons.

The Khomas Region recorded the highest number of layoffs at 2 838 people, followed by Erongo with 1 309 while in Omaheke and Omusati Regions only three and five workers respectively were retrenched.

“Among all the regions, only Kavango-West was spared from retrenchment during this quarter. In addition, the ministry had to deal with 405 unfair dismissals, of which 13 were Covid-19 related.”

The report adds that the ongoing Covid-19 state of emergency restrictions brough about some serious operational challenges and therefore the ministry has a backlog of 588 cases throughout the country.

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