Written by Adrian Geary
Q: Can you describe your business and operations?
A: I manage a team of groundsman within an organisation that employees over 200 people within the tourist industry.
Q: How have you changed your business to ensure operation is effective and safe in the current pandemic?
A: Firstly, we ensured that all staff were sufficiently trained and understood the complexities of the virus. We explained how essential hygiene is and how to perform their role in the best possible way ensuring safety to both themselves and those around them. We implemented protocols and systems to optimise safety and to ensure well-being.
Q: Can you elaborate on some of the protocols and systems that you put in place to ensure safety and well-being?
A Firstly, all meetings are done outdoors where everyone is at least 1.5 m apart. All equipment is sanitised and issued to each person daily. At the end of each day we use our knapsack petrol chemical sprayer filled with sanitiser to spray down all equipment, work areas and communal areas. Staff temperature is taken on arrival to ensure no one with high temperature is allowed access. When travelling as a team masks are compulsory- even though masks are not a prevention it ensures some modicum of health. All staff need to wash their hands before and after they exit the vehicle. One member of staff is responsible for opening and closing of gates, sanitising switches, door handles, toilets and for ensuring staff adhere to our protocols throughout the day. We have encouraged staff to take leave in the hope of limiting their use of public transport and to allow staff to be with the children while schools are closed. The hardest aspect is that business is very slow as people are focused on being safe and protecting themselves from others leading to the postponing of contracts and a reduction of work.
Q:How are your staff and clients reacting to the change of systems and protocols?
A: Staff are quite nervous and its been a challenge to keep them motivated and panic free. It has also taken awhile for staff to adhere to the new systems and to get into habits to maintain them.
Clients have been very supportive, but weary of us onsite. We must isolate our staff in areas, accept deliveries outside and ensure interaction is always kept to a minimal.
Q: Besides the affect the Corona virus has on business what other aspects are you worried about?
A: I am very worried for the safety of staff. Those that take leave will probably want to travel home, where they will be in a confined space travelling for many hours. Now, rural areas are the safest. However, should this virus move into those areas there will be limited health care and it will be very difficult for people to receive care. We thought about issuing compulsory 14-day isolation for anyone travelling away from Cape Town whilst on leave, but how can this be enforced? It’s difficult, almost impossible to expect a family to self-isolate in a small house or shack when their living, eating and sleeping space is one and the same. Many of my staff support their parents, siblings and their children placing further pressure on the need to work and to earn. Business cannot function for long when there is no work and if the virus continues staff will have to be placed on hourly pay.