The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is spreading rapidly across the globe and it has also emerged in other parts of the country and our province, the Western Cape. The virus has now been declared by the world Health Organisation (WHO) as pandemic.
Artscape, therefore, as a responsible employer and global citizen, in alignment with the government and international efforts to prevent and manage the spread of the virus, has put this action plan. Artscape will continue keeping track of rapidly emerging development so as to maintain a safe workplace, thereby reassuring employees and clients alike that the entity is appropriately monitoring and responding to the situation. Artscape strongly believes that having a carefully coordinated and well – thought-out approach to coronavirus should help mitigate the risks for Artscape and at the same time reduce employee concerns.
Artscape will therefore take the following steps:
- Employee sensitization and sharing relevant information timeously
Artscape will communicate openly and frequently with its staff so that they have information they need to help keep themselves informed, educated and updated about the coronavirus. Artscape will use its various internal communication platforms for this purpose.
Artscape is cognizant of the fact that communication helps not only to educate employees on best practices in the workplace, but also to dispel myths and unfounded rumors, about the coronavirus itself and its potential impact on the workplace. Artscape equally recognizes that failure to communicate with their employees may be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as ill-prepared to handle the outbreak and uncaring about the well-being of their employees. It is for this reason that all relevant information will be communicated timeously. Too much communication on this matter is better than none – communication.
- Reinforcement of Good Hygiene Practices and Take Related Safety Precautions
Artscape’s Health and Safety policy place responsibility on it to provide employees with a safe and healthy workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm, and to comply with occupational safety and health standards and rules.
It is for this reason that Artscape will remind employees to take basic preventive measures and safety precautions that may help to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus or spreading it in the workplace. These will include, but not limited to:
- Frequently washing their hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol;
- Avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth;
- Covering sneezes or coughs with tissues, if possible, or else with a sleeve or shoulder;
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
- Visiting the doctor when they feel sick or have been contact with a person from the high risk areas or those who have been in contact with the person diagnosed with the virus
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects
- Ensure Adequate supplies of hygiene products
To reinforce hygienic behaviours, Artscape will endeavor to maintain adequate supplies in its premises as determined by the Health and Safety office and the Supply Chain unit. Artscape has identified areas where hand sanitizers will be placed for employees and its audiences.
- Review cleaning operations
In collaboration with the cleaning service provider, Artscape will review its cleaning operations to ensure that frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, elevator buttons, etc. are routinely disinfected.
Should Artscape learn of an infected employee or other member of the patrons has been in the workplace, Artscape will consider additional deep-cleaning and sanitizing services to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Training of cleaning staff, security staff and frontline staff
Linked to the above, and importantly so, Artscape will liaise with the service provider to ensure that cleaning personnel are properly trained and equipped to disinfect frequently touched areas and that they have appropriate personal protective equipment to avoid contracting the coronavirus while cleaning.
All first line staff (those dealing directly with the patrons and the public), will be trained on preventative measures.
- Immediately send sick employees home and encourage those sick employees to stay at home
Artscape recognizes and acknowledges the commitment of its employees to their work and entity. Under these circumstances, Artscape will immediately send home sick employees back home and encourage those sick to stay at home. In accordance with the sick leave policy, employees will use the days allocated to them for this purpose.
- Limit Business Travel and Conference Attendance to high risk areas
Artscape will limit or cancel employee business travel and attendance of conferences to areas that have been identified as high – risk.
- Quarantine potentially exposed employees
Artscape may quarantine potentially exposed employees, even if they do not display symptoms of the virus. These include, but are not limited to employees who have visited areas identified as high risk, those have been in contact with people who have been infected or suspected to have been infected.
It is for the above reason that on approval by the CEO, Artscape may consider allowing employees to work remotely from home.
- Notices for audiences and visitors to the building
Artscape will place notices in strategic areas in the building visible enough for our patrons and visitors to see.
- Collaboration with in-house companies and stakeholders
As a public space and public entity, Artscape will not go solo on this fight, rather, it will collaborate with the in-house companies and stakeholders in its campaign against the spread of this virus. Communication and encouragement to in-house companies to have
- Review of the Business Continuity Plan to include such threats
In the development/ review of its business continuity plan, Artscape will include the threats of diseases such as this in its plan.
- Emergency employee counselling services
Engagement with the employee wellness service provider has been done and a 24 hour toll free counselling line has been made available for employees and their immediate family members.
- Collaboration and information sharing with other Arts entities
Artscape realizes that this is not an individual battle, this requires team effort. Artscape, through the office of the CEO has started and will continue to liaise with other entities on their approach to dealing with this pandemic.
This plan therefore will never be static, it will be updated consistently as new useful information and approach is received.
- Communication Protocol
Artscape is aware of the strict government protocol in communicating the new coronavirus cases in South Africa. In the same spirit of attempting to curb fake news and manage unnecessary panic, which might be detrimental to the business and its reputation, ONLY the Office of the CEO and the one delegated by that office will communicate on all matters related to this pandemic in the entity.
The CEO’s Office remains the only mouthpiece of Artscape on this matter.
It should be noted that spreading of any false information can lead to abuse of national resources as the presence of this various is a serious matter.
Therefore any employee who will not observe this protocol will be taken through the disciplinary process on serious misconduct.
Employees will therefore be sensitized not to spread false information on any platform regarding this matter.
Marlene Le Roux