Sasol enhances existing preventative workplace COVID-19 controls for its upcoming annual Secunda Operations shutdown
The news that Sasol had a huge Vaccination rollout where they will endeavour to vaccinate around 20000 people before the shutdown at the end of August had mixed reactions. Some welcomed the opportunity to vaccinate while others are unhappy about the apparent bullying (as they put it) by Sasol in forcing people to vaccinate. Solidarity had discussions with Sasol and another group will engage with Sasol during next week.
The Bulletin asked Sasol for their response on these reactions from the workers.
This was their response:
From 30 August till the end of September 2021, the Sasol Secunda Operations plant will undergo a major facility shutdown for statutory maintenance to critical infrastructure and equipment.
The shutdown will entail the execution of more than 90 000 activities over 23 days. During this period, the size of the workforce on site will increase substantially to nearly 20 000 people, comprising Sasol employees and those of service providers. Further, a significant number of the workforce will be service provider employees who will be converging in Secunda from different geographical areas to augment the need for critical skills and they will have to adjust to Sasol’s shutdown-specific workplace safety protocols.
Read more on Sasol HERE
“Sasol is acutely aware of the obligations imposed on it by the Occupational Health and Safety Act to provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of its employees and others present at its premises.” said Matebello Motloung, Senior Specialist: Media Relations at Sasol, “Sasol also fully appreciates the gravity of this considering the abovementioned vastness of the shutdown activities to be undertaken by a large workforce and amid the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. This requires adherence to various other regulatory requirements, which we remain committed to complying with as well.”
For these reasons, although Sasol believes that its current Covid-19 workplace prevention measures and protocols are adequate and effective to protect employees under normal working conditions, we view the upcoming shutdown as a particularly high-risk event due to the possible spread of COVID-19 as South Africa is in the middle of the pandemic. This is also based on our updated workplace risk assessment, which considers the specific circumstances of the shutdown. It is therefore critical that we fulfil our workplace safety obligations by managing the shutdown as a potential super-spreader event as part of our COVID-19 workplace mitigation plan.
Protecting all employees
Sasol supports the view that the implementation of mitigation measures, including vaccinations in times of pandemics, is primarily in the interest of public health and safety and for the greater good of society.
Sasol further regards vaccination of the workforce involved in activities on-site during the shutdown period as a necessary and effective measure to mitigate the increased workplace exposure to the COVID-19 and the risk of it spreading. We do this while recognising that it remains an individual’s choice to be vaccinated, which choice is to be exercised with due consideration to individual rights and without any fear of discrimination or retaliation. This is underpinned by Sasol’s Human Rights Policy.
It is for this reason that employees that will be participating in activities on-site during the shutdown period are expected to submit either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test (an antigen test will be accepted) result not older than 7 days prior to commencement of the shutdown activities, and to be repeated during the shutdown period every 7 days. This, in our view, is also in the interest of the health of the public, given the prevailing pandemic. Sasol is working with the National and provincial authorities on protocols for vaccination and other pandemic related response interventions.
Sasol is currently assessing the costs associated with the testing and exploring viable means of providing enabling support. Sasol continues its engagements with the workforce and other interested and affected parties for the above purposes, including the rendering support to enable the abovementioned objectives.