Companies to submit weekly data on Covid-19 cases

Businesses with more than 50 employees to submit Covid-19 data to the NIOH.

It is now a legal requirement for all businesses with more than 50 employees to submit weekly data on Covid-19 cases to the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH). The NIOH is a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, which supports the country's occupational health and safety agenda through monitoring of occupational diseases.

The NIOH said Covid-19 surveillance has been ongoing since the outbreak began in South Africa. The consolidated directive on occupational health and safety measures in certain workplaces was amended on 28 September 2020, making it a legal requirement for employers to submit relevant information of all workers who test positive for Covid-19 to the institute.

The institute said that with the amendment, businesses with more than 50 employees must now submit weekly data on symptomatic employees and positive cases, as well as a one-off submission on vulnerable employees.

This information will allow the NIOH to expand the Covid-19 national occupational health surveillance system (OHSS) which requires the collection, analysis and interpretation of occupational health-related data for planning, implementation and evaluation of workplace interventions.

Dr Nisha Naicker, head of epidemiology and surveillance at the NIOH explained, “The information submitted will provide us with an in-depth understanding of the Covid-19 infection spectrum in the South African workforce through dynamic data analytics and visualisation into all phases.”

Naicker said the institute plans to use the surveillance system for early identification of sectors and occupational groups at high risk of infection, to formulate appropriate interventions and strengthen Covid-19 workplace programmes to help mitigate the transmission of the disease.

The data will also be used providing updates on the trajectory of the pandemic in various economic sectors.

Naicker said guidelines on how to submit are available on the NIOH website.