Rehabilitating Stagnant Water Systems
Post SA Lockdown COVID 19
Dear valued members
As soon as the South African Lockdown COVID-19 period ends, people will start heading back to their work premises that have for weeks now been unoccupied or sparsely used as a result of the lockdown.
We point out that that water not drawn through a plumbing system within a building over an extended period of time will become stagnant.
Stagnation of water within building pipes and other water systems may contain excessive amounts of heavy metals. As a result this may support the accelerated growth of many microorganisms and pathogens, such as Legionella Pneumophila https://www.who.int/ that can cause great harm to building occupants. Just as with the COVID-19, those that are at the greatest risk of becoming ill from such pathogens are the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.Plumbing systems will therefore have to be prepared for regular use again and IOPSA urges all its members to please place high importance on protecting the public’s health and safety. Therefore, attention should be given to the rehabilitation of such water systems within 5-7 days before the building is re-occupied. Please note that this period may vary from the periods given by local authorities and this would also need to be taken into consideration.
Below are some guidelines and best practices to be considered to rehabilitate a stagnant water line for regular use again:
Flushing of all water systems
The flushing of the water system will depend and differ from building to building. Factors such as building reticulation design and distance from service connection will be one of many factors to consider when trying to determine the time per terminal point to be flushed.
Taking the above into account, IOPSA cannot give an exact time to allow such purging of stagnant water from each point. The licenced plumber will have to evaluate each case on merit and also take into account means to try reduce unnecessary water wastage such as the testing of water quality.
IOPSA encourages good health practices and we urge our members and their staff attending to such rehabilitation of stagnant water systems to please take care and wear the correct PPE. Remember to open taps slowly to avoid splashing and before flushing toilets to close the toilet lids to prevent aerosols filling or splashing from the toilet.
Other building water systems
All other water systems in a building, such as water re-use systems (storage tanks), water features such as fountains, and irrigation systems will need to be flushed. Please remember to follow the manufacturer recommendations for disinfecting such water systems. Please refer to SANS 10252-1 ref 6.5.2 and 9.3.2 for more guidance.
Floor drains and grease traps
In respect of buildings that have floor drains - be sure to clean and flush the drain and to make sure that the trap is fully restored in order to keep sewer gases from entering the building.
Grease traps and gulleys need to be cleared, cleaned, and flushed.
Removal and cleaning of end-point devices such as faucet aerators, drinking fountain, water filtration systems, point of use water heaters and filtration systems would be a good practice.
(Please consult the manufacturer on specific procedures to be followed)
We recommend that should the occupants need to drink water that they either use bottled water or boil the water first and allow it to cool down before consuming it. This should be implemented for at least the first week of re-occupying the building to allow the water lines to be sufficiently flushed.
IOPSA Management and staff take this opportunity to thank each and every IOPSA member for their role and contribution to the plumbing industry and especially to the health and safety of our nation.
Steve van Zyl
National Technical Manager
This document may be amended as we identify new or better remedial procedures and recommendations that can be made in protecting our potable water.
To download the formal statement click here
Without modern plumbing in our homes – proper pipework, running water, flushing toilets and the ability to shower, we would find life challenging to say the least as well as somewhat unhygienic! Water is THE most essential constituent for life on earth, in so far as plumbing has evolved to being one of the cornerstones on which modern society has evolved. Plumbing – so important, fundamental and central to civilization in general, that even the great Roman empire recognized how a knowledge and understanding of plumbing, sewerage and waterworks was essential to the advancement of society.
With an ever-increasing population in high density urban areas life as we currently know it wouldn't be possible without plumbers – working hard in a profession of which they can be justifiably proud!
According to a British Medical Journal reader survey - Sanitation was the single most important medical advance since 1840 and South Africans can be proud of the fact that due to their excellent sanitation systems they have one of the best public health records in the Western world.
So, who takes responsibility for South Africa’s sanitary systems?
It’s you the Proud South African Plumber; who, continues to uphold, encourage and monitor a consistent, efficient and reliable plumbing environment, so as to safe guard and serve the public of this proud nation – South Africa.
So when you as a Proud and registered Plumber comes to repair a burst geyser, a water leak, a blocked drain, or an interrupted water supply the public can be confident and secure in the knowledge that the tradesperson who answers their call is a skilled Professional known as a Plumber!
In its response to the coronavirus pandemic the South African government has identified that the plumbing industry is indispensable and that PLUMBERS are ESSENTIAL WORKERS.
If ever South Africa needed it’s Plumbers - it is NOW!
During this time of Lock-Down due to the Corona-virus we NEED the services of you as our Proud Plumbers because who else is going to keep the Nation’s water running in our homes, our hotels, our HOSPITALS and wherever we need water to WASH OUR HANDS and a myriad of surfaces in hot soapy water in order to help beat this virus? We NEED professional PLUMBERS, Tradespersons that know how to keep vital services running. It’s the Plumbing profession that keeps this country CLEAN, who not only fix the leaks and keep the water running through the Nation’s taps but who keeps the whole waste-water system functioning, the sewers working and many of the nation’s appliances securely plumbed in!
We honour the Doctors, the Nurses all the staff that work in hospitals and medical centres. We applaud those that keep our telecommunications open and working, we admire those who keep our information technology systems up and running. We even have a sneaking admiration for our bin-men, our defence force and for those that work in transportation and logistics, the food and agriculture sectors – but so often we forget how important our Plumbers AND the Plumbing Industry are.
But NO MORE!
South African PLUMBERS – we not only respect and appreciate your contribution towards your community – we SALUTE YOU and we THANK you for your valuable and vital contribution towards our nation!
Be Plumber Proud!
IOPSA and PIRB set out in partnership with Harambee to find out how our industry is currently coping with the Lockdown and if they are trading as an essential service.
To view the full report and findings please click below to view the full report.
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Positioned to provide widespread and sustainable support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are financially impacted by COVID-19, the newly-established Sukuma Relief Programme comprises two distinct and separate relief offerings – one for formal sole proprietors and another for other business entities, namely close corporations, companies, and trusts.
This is according to Ben Bierman, Managing Director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) – one of Africa’s leading risk finance companies for SMEs and the appointed Administrator of the fund – who explains that the financial aid and assistance will comprise grants and low-interest-bearing loans with a 12-month repayment holiday.
“The Sukuma Relief Programme is structured to provide relief against the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, while leveraging further support as far as possible. Qualifying formal sole proprietors will receive a non-repayable grant of R25 000. Formal close corporations, companies and trusts will be eligible for an unsecured loan ranging between R250 000 and R1 000 000, with no repayment obligations or interest incurred for the first 12 months, in addition to a R25 000 grant,” says Bierman.
In terms of necessary criteria, he says that close corporations, companies or trusts must be registered, tax- and regulatory-compliant South African businesses that can prove viability prior to the arrival of the pandemic. “When applying, these entities will therefore be required to submit documents and supporting evidence to corroborate that it is a viable business that was impacted by COVID-19. This proof can be a demonstration of a decrease in turnover, erosion of working capital, or inability to pay salaries.
“Similarly, formal sole proprietors will need to provide proof of an active bank account to show business activity prior to the outbreak of the pandemic and provide evidence of tax compliance,” he adds
Given the gravity of the unprecedented COVID-19 disruption, Bierman says there will be a focus on swift application, approval and disbursement processing to ensure the relief is made available to qualifying SMEs as quickly as possible. “We understand that many businesses are currently in need of immediate financial relief. Disbursements will therefore be made within seven days after applying for the assistance, provided the supporting evidence is supplied and verified.”
For business owners wishing to apply, Bierman says applications will open today, Friday, 3 April 2020, on the BUSINESS/PARTNERS website (www.businesspartners.co.za). “To apply, all you need to do is visit the website and follow the simple steps to fill in an application and upload the required supporting documents.”
When asked about what their role as Administrator entails, Bierman says that BUSINESS/PARTNERS is responsible for ensuring that every cent contributed to the fund ends up in the hands of business owners. “This is a permanent vehicle to support South African SMEs in distress, and we intend to help support as many businesses as possible.
“It should be noted, in this regard, that BUSINESS/PARTNERS will not be profiting from the funding in any way, and no fees will be charged in relation to the Sukuma Relief Programme. The donors will also not be paid back at any point,” he adds.
Bierman explains that the repayment of the loan portion is an appeal to the beneficiaries of the Programme to “pay it forward” once their businesses are back on their feet, in order to allow for the continuing support of other SMEs into the future. “While the fund has been originated to provide SMEs with financial aid to assist them in weathering the COVID-19 storm, the plan is for it to run on a sustainable basis over the long term and continue to help SMEs during challenging times like this in the future,” he concludes.
About the Sukuma Relief Programme
The Sukuma Relief Programme is positioned to provide widespread and sustainable support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are financially impacted by COVID-19. The initiative is in response to the call by President Ramaphosa to all social partners to support SMEs in sustaining their business operations and preserve jobs. The Rupert Family and Remgro Limited pledged R1 billion towards this financial aid. The Sukuma Relief Programme offers distinct and separate financial aid to formal sole proprietors and other business entities, namely, close corporations, companies and trusts.
About Business Partners Ltd.
Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) is a specialist risk finance company for formal small and medium owner-managed businesses in South Africa, and selected African countries. The company actively supports entrepreneurial growth by providing financing from R500, 000 to R50 million, specialist sectoral knowledge, business premises and added-value services for viable small and medium businesses. Since establishment in 1981, BUSINESS/PARTNERS has provided business finance worth over R19.5 billion in over 71 600 transactions facilitating over 651 000 jobs. BUSINESS/PARTNERS was named the Gold winner in the SME Bank of the Year – Africa category at the 2019 Global SME Finance Awards. Visit www.businesspartners.co.za for more information.
Article taken from: https://www.politicsweb.co.za/politics/heres-how-to-apply-for-covid19-business-funding--b
Much confusion has arisen with the introduction of the Covid -19 temporary employee / employer relief scheme (C19 TERS), previously referred to as a “National Disaster Benefit”, in terms of a directive that was gazetted on 26 March 2020.
C19 TERS is not the only UIF relief option available in the case of temporary lay-offs. Many employers have already laid off their employees without pay and submitted claims under the UIF ‘Reduced working time’ option.
[NOTE: The confusion has by and large been caused by a more recent Easy- Aid Guide for Employers to access UIF benefits that seems to confuse C19 TERS document requirements with that of the UIF ‘Reduced working time’ option. To avoid confusion, we have made available the previous version of the UIF Easy-Aid Guide.
TEMPORARY LAY-OFF OPTIONS
1. UIF ‘Reduced working time’ option
Although indications are that the C19 TERS is likely to receive priority and seems to be preferred by Department of Labour and Employment, the ‘reduced working time’ option is still available to employers and employees.
The ‘reduced working time’ was originally intended for employees who have to work short time. This benefit was introduced fairly recently (2018) in the following terms:
“A contributor employed in any sector who loses his or her income due to reduced working time, despite being employed, is entitled to benefits if the contributor’s total income falls below the benefit level that the contributor would have received if he or she had become wholly unemployed, subject to that contributor having enough credits.”
Although not expressly stated, this scheme should also be available to employees that are on temporary lay-off without pay during the Covid-19 crisis. The following documents need to be submitted:
· UI 19 and UI 2.7 (completed by employer)
· UI 2.1 (application form)
· UI 2.8 (bank form completed by bank)
· Letter from employer confirming reduced work time (or lay-off) is due to the Coronavirus
· Copy of ID document
An “UIF Easy-Aid Guide”, as well as the relevant forms, has been send to all.
Features of the ‘reduced working time’ option:
· The claim is subject to the employee having enough credits.
· The claim is by the employee (with the assistance of the employer).
· The employee has to obtain a UI-19 form and then get a bank authorisation in respect of the account into which the benefit is to be paid, which will be a challenge, especially during the lock-down.
· Submission can be made online to the relevant processing centre (See list of processing centres at the end of UIF Easy-Aid Guide available at the link below).
· The benefit will be calculated in terms of the income replacement rate sliding scale of 38 % (for high earners) up to 60 % (for low earners) as provided in the Unemployment Insurance Act, subject to the maximum threshold as determined from time to time.
· It is possible that lower earning employees may get out less than the minimum wage under this dispensation.
· Payment is made by the UIF directly into the employee’s bank account.
· Subject to available credits the employee can (theoretically) receive this benefit for up to 12 months.
2. Covid-19 temporary employee / employer relief scheme (C19 TERS)
This scheme is intended to provide emergency relief to enable employers to pay employees who are temporarily laid off due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The directive appears in the Government Gazette (No. 43161) on 26 March 2020, sets the C19 TERS out the basis of the scheme as follows:
“Should an employer as a direct result of Covid-19 pandemic close its operations for a 3 (three) months or lesser period and suffer financial distress, the company shall qualify for a Covid19 Temporary Relief Benefit.”
(The Government Gazette is available at the link below.)
Features of the COVID-19 TERS option:
· It is a separate benefit scheme (separate from normal UIF benefits with its own set of forms and requirements) which cannot be claimed at the same time as the UIF ‘reduced working time’ benefit.
· It applies where the company has closed its operations as a direct result of Covid-19 (at this stage this option does not seem to apply if the company doesn’t close entirely, but lays off only some of its employees)
· Claims are not dependent on an employee having any UIF credits and will be entitled to benefits irrespective of how long they have contributed.
· The company (rather than the employee) submits a claim for UIF and the company then pays over the money to employees.
· Online process: Send blank email to Covid19ters@labour.gov.za and you receive an automated response with the relevant forms and other requirements.
· The UIF will be prepared to “top up” any payment made by the employer (by prior arrangement with the UIF).
· The benefit will be calculated in terms of the income replacement rate sliding scale of 38 % (for high earners) up to 60 % (for low earners) as provided in the Unemployment Insurance Act, subject to the maximum threshold which is currently R17712. Despite conflicting reports, our understanding is that the maximum benefit for a high earner would be 38 % of R17 712 a month, which amounts to about R6 730 a month.
· For the duration of the shutdown or a maximum period of three months, the benefit will be not less than the minimum wage (referred to as a ‘flat rate’ of R3500 per month). After the expiry of this 3-month period, the employee might receive less than the minimum wage based on the above sliding scale.
· There is supposed to be a faster turnaround time with processing (According to the agreement to be signed with the UIF the benefit should be paid out to the company within 30 days of a valid submission).
· The company has to enter into a written agreement with the UIF if it has 10 or more employees (updated in the latest “COVID 19 TERS EASY AID).
· The company has to fulfil a number of administrative requirements, e.g. proof of payroll for the last three months.
· The company has to open a dedicated UIF bank account, or clear an existing account, so that Covid-19 benefits can be tracked.
(A Covid-19 TERS Easy Aid is available at the link below.)
Which lay-off option do I choose?
There are several considerations. The Covid-19 TERS seems to be intended for as emergency relief with a relatively quick turnaround time. Some bargaining councils and large consortia of employers have been encouraged to make use of this scheme. They would make bulk submissions and, once the benefits are paid over to them, they would pay the benefits to the employees. This should ease the administrative burden on the UIF.
Covid-TERS also seems well suited for employers who foresee that they will not be able to pay their employees in full for a significant period (up to 3 months). The UIF intends to help ‘top up’ salaries to the extent allowed by the income replacement rate sliding scale (but only if this has been agreed upfront with the UIF). This type of relief seems to be in sharp focus by the UIF.
Smaller companies may also make use of the benefit. They would have to decide based on their prospects of recovery, and whether it is worth their while to comply with the Covid-19 TERS requirements. They also need to consider the practical difficulties that their employees may experience in obtaining their benefits, especially during the lock-down period (which may be extended). The UIF Commissioner has indicated that employers with less than ten employees do not have to enter into the prescribed agreement (MOA) with the UIF. Small employers may be accommodated in other ways, but it is not clear to what extent. Each company will be judged on its own individual merits. We have our doubts about the capacity of the UIF to give much individual attention in the current circumstances.
Employers must make a choice. They cannot claim under both systems at the same time. It is not clear whether an employer who has already submitted under the ‘reduced working time’ option can withdraw that submission and claim under Covid-19 TERS. In our view this should be possible, though. The UIF Commissioner has indicated that companies that want to make use of Covid-19 TERS should do so before the end of the current lock-down.
While Covid-19 TERS appears to have unique and helpful features, it is a new system and there are likely to be teething problems.
There is no clear right or wrong way. Each company should make a choice based on its own circumstances.
There have been conflicting reports on what employers are entitled to do with regard to leave.
In our view the point of departure is this: The 21-day lock-down has been imposed by Government. Neither employers nor employees are to blame. Employees who have to stay at home are unable to tender their services due to the lock-down. They are not entitled to be paid. So, what measures are available to mitigate the financial deprivation suffered by employees during the lock-down?
There seem to be the following options:
1. Employees take the annual leave that is due to them.
2. UIF benefits (UIF ‘reduced working time’ benefit or Coivid-19 TERS benefit).
3. Employers pay their employees in part or in full, if they have the resources to do so (even though they have no obligation).
4. Employers grant their employees loans.
On 26 March 2020, a directive was issued by the SA Government acknowledging an employer’s right to insist that employees take annual leave. However, the directive encourages employers to make use of the Covid-19 TERS relief instead (The directive is available at the link below). Until such time that this directive is replaced with a new directive, statements by politicians and others that are in conflict with the directive do not have to be taken seriously.
Employers may already have an arrangement in place that employees use their annual leave credits during the lock-down. It has the advantage of providing immediate financial relief during the lock-down. In such cases employers may decide to apply for the Covid-19 TERS relief. If the claim is successful, the leave granted can be formally reversed. If the Covid-19 TERS benefit is not granted, it would be in order to maintain the original leave arrangement.
Employers can only be expected to do what is reasonable in the light of their unique circumstances and the resources they have available to them.
COIDA AND SICK LEAVE
Covid-19 has been declared an occupational disease. If an employee is absent due to contracting the Coronavirus out of and in the course of his or her employment, it will not be regarded as sick leave. Instead it would be covered in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act of 1993 (COIDA). The employee must as soon as possible after the commencement of a disease give written notice thereof to his or her employer or to the employer where he or she was last employed, and he or she may also give written notice of the said disease in the prescribed manner to the compensation commissioner. Thereafter, a further process needs to be followed by the employer and a medical practitioner. If, however, it cannot be shown that the Coronavirus was contracted in the course of the employee’s employment, any period of absence as a result of being infected will be regarded as sick leave.
OTHER UIF OPTIONS
Illness benefits for 14-day quarantine period
This UIF benefit is available to employees who are quarantined for 14 days due the Coronavirus (i.e. “special leave”), irrespective whether the employee has contracted the virus or not. No medical certificate is needed for the first 14 days but the employer and employee have to submit a letter of proof that they have agreed to “special leave”. In addition to the letter referred to above, there is certain other documentation that has to be submitted (See “UIF Easy-Aid Guide” which is available at the link below).
While this option is available in principle, it is not available during the 21-day lock-down, except for employees who are able to work due to being part of essential services. At this stage it seems that it may be used after the lock-down, though.
In the unfortunate event that an employee passes away, certain beneficiaries may apply for benefits (See “UIF Easy-Aid Guide” at the link below). The following documents need to be submitted:
· UI 19 and UI 53 (completed by employer)
· UI 2.5 or UI 2.6
· Death certificate
· Copies of ID documents of applicant and the deceased
OTHER ‘TERS’ BENEFITS (NON COVID-19 RELATED)
There is another temporary relief benefit scheme (TERS) that was originally introduced towards the end of 2019. It was introduced to assist employers in distress, in order to avoid retrenchments. This scheme – which is overseen by the CCMA – is not to be confused with the Covid-19 TERS scheme.
Click here to download the Step by Step Guide to claim UIF TERS Fund
Click here to download the National Lockdown Deceleration by Employers
Safe work place procedure document
Emergency call out sheet
The impact of the Coronavirus in the workplace: Part 1
by Jan du Toit, SA Labour Guide
This is the first article in a series on the implications of the Coronavirus in the workplace.
In addition to the publications, we will also introduce a series of free webinars.
We have been inundated with enquiries pertaining to the president's announcement of a state of emergency pertaining to the Coronavirus in South Africa. As our president indicated, the virus is now spreading internally, and the possibility thereof is in all workplaces in South Africa is now a reality.
The purpose of this short message is not to repeat everything already known about the virus and precautionary measures that may be taken, but instead to answer a couple of questions pertaining to absence from work during the next couple of weeks, possibly months.
Labour legislation does not make provision for emergency sick or annual leave for instances such as the present. Any absence from the workplace without permission must however still be justified by the employee by means of a medical certificate in the event that the employee has been absent from work for more than two consecutive working days or on the third occasion during an eight week cycle.
Employees should however be encouraged to disclose general symptoms of a cold or flu to the HR Department without delay. Such employees will be required to stay at home until such time they are fit to return to work. They will however still be required to justify their absence by means of a medical certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner. Should the employee be able to justify absence from work by means of such a certificate, the period of absence will be paid from the employee’s sick leave entitlement. Should the employee not have sufficient sick leave available, such absence will unfortunately be without any remuneration or benefits, unless annual leave is available for payment purposes or if otherwise decided by the employer.
Employers should also take note of the fact that schools will close this Wednesday until after Easter weekend. The aforementioned comes as a surprise to employees that have school going children below the age of 18 that will now have to be accommodated during the extended school holiday. Again, no special leave is applicable for the aforementioned, but employers will be required to reasonably accommodate the absence of parents whose children must be looked after during this period, especially applicable for young children.
Uncompleted Disciplinary Incapacity Proceedings
Where disciplinary action or incapacity proceedings are interrupted as a result of the presence of the virus in a workplace or due to the absence of the employee or witnesses; employers are advised to notify the employee in writing of its intent to continue with such disciplinary action or incapacity proceedings when circumstances have normalised.
Incapacity proceedings for employees that are infected by the virus is not recommended. The Coronavirus is a temporary medical condition with the employee most probably being able to return to the workplace later, fit for normal duty.
Where it is impossible to continue with normal business activities, employers will be required to temporarily lay-off employees. Due consideration must however be given to relevant Bargaining Council Main Agreements where the business falls under the scope of such council. Such layoff is normally unpaid and as alternative to retrenchment.
We are still awaiting guidance from the CCMA pertaining to matters that are currently on the roll and that are to be determined in a place where more than hundred people will gather. It is our opinion that the CCMA will have to introduce drastic measures in this regard.
We wish you all the best during this trying period and pray that you, your loved ones and employees remain unaffected.
Jan du Toit can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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