Staying safe in the time of the coronavirus

by Reporter
15 June 2020
15 June 2020

SaveAct staff will be guided by the following safety guidelines while working under COVID-19 conditions. 

Drafted in May 2020



Controlling the spread of infection is considered the main aim of all governments around the world. Specifically, in South Africa, although the rate of infection has been considered relatively low in comparison with European countries, the unique challenge for South Africa with its large vulnerable immunocompromised population and high levels of poverty is the potential for devastating levels of transmission.



There are only two known routes of transmission of COVID-19:

  • Via respiratory droplets produced by sneezing and coughing which are directly inhaled by another person.
  • Via respiratory droplets landing on surfaces surrounding the infected person which are then transferred by another person making contact with that surface and then touching their mouth, nose and eyes.
  • No airborne transmission of COVID-19 has been recorded. This means that droplets containing COVID-19 will not remain in the air but will fall downwards on to surfaces up to two metres away from a person who has not contained their sneeze or cough.
  • Virus particles remain active on surfaces for up to 5-7 hours, depending on how porous the surface is.


  • Frequent hand washing using soap and water/use of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) sanitizer.
  • Correct cough and sneeze containments and respiratory hygiene.
  • Do not touch your face with your hands, most especially mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Wear protective gear including face masks and possibly overalls but manage their use carefully.
  • Use social distancing: keep a distance of two metres when in contact with other people.



As with all businesses and workplaces with staff returning to work after the lockdown, there are specific protection measures that must be taken.

These measures are being put in place to minimise the risk of transmission of the coronavirus to SaveAct staff and the communities we work with. It is critical that these guidelines are adhered to in order to protect ourselves,   those around us and those we come into contact with.

  • Identification and protection of vulnerable employees .
  • Managing and supporting sick employees.
  • Screening of employees on entering the workplace.
  • Availability and use of hand sanitizers and masks.
  • Cleaning of surfaces and shared equipment.
  • Prevention of viral spread in the workplace.

5.1. Identification of at-risk employees and caring for those who become sick with COVID-19

The current definitions for ‘at risk’ people are those over the age of 60 years, those prone to respiratory conditions and those with chronic illnesses such as TB, HIV, diabetes, hypertension and cardio-vascular conditions. Pregnant women should also be considered vulnerable.

It is recommended that staff who are at risk are encouraged to stay at or work from home, or that a leave arrangement be put in place to enable them to not enter the workplace.

For those staff who are identified as having COVID-19, great care should be taken to ensure that they obtain care and treatment as soon as possible. Next to this must be the screening and treating of that staff member with respect, ensuring their rights and immediately addressing any negativity or stigmatisation of them.  COVID-19 can and will affect anyone.

5.2. Personal health checks

Staff will be given support in monitoring and maintaining their health, including recognising and protecting those who are at higher risk of contracting the virus and identifying, managing and supporting those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 and getting them the care they need.

Health check questions

All staff members should perform a personal health check before starting their working day. This check should be completed and recorded on a form that is submitted to their manager. The form contains the following questions:

  • Have you been in contact with someone sick with COVID-19-like symptoms in the last 24 hours?
  • Are you feeling unwell?
  • Do you have a dry cough?
  • Do you have a sore throat?
  • Is your temperature above 38C? (A thermometer reading should be taken by the office admin).


If the staff member answers ‘yes’ to any of these questions, the staff member should not visit any community and should immediately be reviewed by a medical professional. Any other people who have been in contact with this staff member should immediately self-isolate and await the outcome of the test on the staff member.

5.3. Operational protocol and control measures to mitigate risk in offices

  • There should be a record of all staff and visitors entering the premises
  • Desks or workstations should be placed at least two metres apart
  • Machines or equipment that is shared should be used whilst keeping two metres apart.
  • Only one person each day should operate the photocopier and printer to reduce hand transmission.
  • Office manager to agree on who this daily admin support person will be, also on a roster basis.
  • The equipment must be properly wiped down and sanitized at the end of each day.
  • No exchanging of stationery. Workers are discouraged from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible.
  • Meetings, if they must be held, should be reduced to include no more than five people and must be held in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside if possible.
  • Deliveries to offices should be made using a ‘remote table’ where the item being delivered is placed on a table away from the receiver.
  • Sanitizer should be available for the delivering person to use before and after placing the item on the table.
  • Orders for equipment and supplies should wherever possible be delivered to the office on account with existing suppliers to reduce the need for employees to visit suppliers.
  • The deliverer should be encouraged to be wearing a mask.
  • The person receiving must also wear a mask.
  • Any items to be signed for should be done using either the delivering person’s own pen or a pen that is sanitized after each use. Ideally, the signing-in should be done using a single sheet rather than a book to be handled by everyone.
  • Washrooms should be regularly cleaned and sprayed with 0.1% chlorine, and soap and water and sanitizer should be available for each staff member to use as well.
  • Hand-washing signs to be posted in restrooms.
  • Excess sanitisers and masks to be kept on the premises.
  • At lunchtime, participants should ensure social distance (minimum 2m gap between people) and, if possible, these distances should be demarcated for staff entering and being in the kitchen.
  • Staff must avoid unnecessary movement from place to place during and after working hours, as this might jeopardise the safety of other staff.
  • No employee/supervisor shall be allowed on site without wearing required PPE including masks, and having sanitised hands between vehicle and work site.
  • Staff should avoid working in extreme conditions (heat, cold, wind, rain) and dress appropriately for the weather.
  • No one to prepare tea or food for anyone else, and everyone to use own mug ONLY and NOT share any crockery.
  • Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment.
  • Every employer must take measures to ensure that all work surfaces and equipment are disinfected before work begins, regularly during the working period and after work ends; all areas such as toilets, common areas, door handles, and shared electronic equipment are regularly cleaned and disinfected. Surfaces in kitchen including handles of fridge and bathrooms, as well as desks in use, all door handles, etc. to be regularly (i.e. at least three times daily) wiped down with sanitiser by safety officer.
  • The employer is to provide resources and a work environment that promotes personal hygiene. For example, tissues, pedal trash cans, hand soap, alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 705 alcohol, disinfectants, and disposable towels for workers to clean their work surfaces.
  • All staff will be allocated their own cup and crockery where required. Allocated cups and crockery may not be shared. Staff should keep their cups and crockery at their desks. Disposable cups should be available for use by visitors. Once used these cups must be disposed of.
  • The employer must, free of charge, ensure that there are sufficient quantities of hand sanitizer based on the number of workers or other people who enter the workplace at the entrance o, and in the workplace which the workers or other people are required to use. Office cleaning products, soaps and paper hand towels should also be provided. The use of fabric towels is prohibited.
  • Staff who work away from the workplace, other than at home, must be provided with an adequate supply of hand sanitizer. If a staff member interacts with the public, the employer must provide them with sufficient supplies of hand-sanitizer at their workstation for both the worker and the person with whom they are interacting.
  • All employees who can effectively work from home may do so, based on agreed weekly task outputs and performance schedules with their project manager or director. The employer will provide an agreed amount of extra data to allow working from home.
  • Should any employee or visitor show ANY symptoms which could indicate COVID-19 infection they will not be permitted to enter the workplace, and must immediately be isolated in a safe place where no other people may be in contact with them.
  • Visitors shall not be permitted on site except with permission of supervisor.

To be followed when delivering essential services and, inputs and visiting communities for savings group and farmer-support activities.

6.1. Physical safety of staff during field visits

The first issue to consider is the physical safety of the staff who may be visiting communities to deliver agricultural and other programme resources and infection control commodities such as sanitizers, soap or masks. All people delivering supplies to communities risk hijacking, but where communities are experiencing severe and sudden deprivation of basic needs — food, water, health care and medicines — there may be increasing tension around supply distribution, possibly leading to social unrest and violence. This situation needs to be carefully managed to protect the staff doing deliveries and also ensure that deliveries get to those who need them.

6.2 The key is community relationships

The strongest and most powerful tool for protecting staff doing savings meetings and delivering essential goods and services are the communities themselves. By creating strong relationships and alliances with key community members SaveAct is able to:

  • Monitor current needs within the community;
  • Set up a distribution system;
  • Manage community expectations;
  • Communicate essential goods/service provision agreements.

6.3. Pre-planning protocol for deliveries and/or savings group meeting visits

  • Sufficient time should be allocated for preparation for each delivery or savings group meeting.
  • All staff will become ambassadors of accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19, its symptoms, ways of transmission, risks and the ways to control and prevent infection. As ‘knowledge ambassadors’ they can take all opportunities to pass on this information to others.
  • To limit visits to communities, a delivery plan outlining central delivery points where point people can come and pick up the delivery should be developed. These could include clustering homesteads to one central house or school or another central point for the community.
  • To further limit visits to communities, before planning a delivery, staff must determine if it is necessary or if through coordination with other agencies working in the area, one of them could make the delivery for SaveAct.
  • The point people should be kept in constant contact with the delivery team to keep them informed of the latest situation in the community or area. They can give up-to-date information on what the community’s needs are and liaise about the safety of making the delivery.
  • Arrangements should be made for the point people to not be present at the delivery point when the drop-off is made, but to be informed once the delivery or visit has been completed and then go to the delivery point to collect and distribute supplies.

6.4. The following actions will be put in place:

  • SaveAct will identify ‘point people’ in each of the communities where deliveries are taking place. Each of these point people will act as a go-betweens with the delivering team and other community members. Their role will be to ‘receive’ the goods delivered and manage a system of distribution to other community members.
  • Each point person will discuss the upcoming deliveries that will be happening over the next few weeks/months with the surrounding community. This is crucial, since it enhances community understanding about the deliveries – their form, their purpose and their quality and it may avoid risks to those delivering.

A decision should be made within the team about what will happen should deliveries be intercepted, and this should be communicated to the community. Often international aid agencies have a rule that once deliveries have been intercepted, no further deliveries are undertaken.

  1. Cleaning and disinfection materials

Each staff member will have access to all the equipment, material and devices possible to protect themselves as they go about their journey. RCs responsible for each site will ensure the cleaning materials are always available.

7.1. For proper cleaning/disinfection:

  • All relevant staff are aware and trained on the protocols and processes involved in infection control cleaning.
  • Proper cleaning technique will be used by cleaners and staff e.g. using the two-bucket method and cleaning from inside to outside and from top to bottom.
  • Staff will have access to adequate equipment and products:
  • two buckets, one for cleaning and the other for rinsing
  • mops
  • cloths
  • spray bottles
  • 500ml detergent
  • one litre chlorine (0.1% dilution)
  • one litre hand sanitizer.
  • Vehicles to be considered potential carriers of infection.
  • Staff members cleaning the vehicle should use protective gloves (household) that can be reused.
  • After cleaning is completed the cleaner/staff must clean the reusable gloves by rinsing them with 0.1% chlorine and then rinsing in water. 70% alcohol sanitizer can be used where water is not available.
  • Ensure hand hygiene before and after using gloves.

7.2. Cleaning procedure before trips

Cleaning with soap and water can be done using a cloth and bucket of water with detergent. Rinsing can be done using a second cloth and bucket of clean water. The two buckets should not be mixed. When rinsing off the 0.1% chlorine a bucket of clean water with a third clean cloth should be used.

  • Clean all surfaces: steering wheel, gear stick, handbrake, dashboard, switches, handles;
  • Clean with water and soap, rinse with water and disinfect (spray) with chlorine 0.1% solution;
  • Ensure good ventilation of vehicle during and after chlorine use (doors/windows open).

7.3. The delivery

  • Delivery procedures should be pre-planned with the point people.
  • If there is an urgent need to meet with the point person or anyone else at the delivery point, person-to-person contract should be limited.
  • Maintain a minimum two-metre distance between deliverer and receiver.
  • Both should wear a mask.
  • Hand sanitizing should be maintained before and after the visit.
  • At unloading, any sealed packages can be sprayed with 0.1% chlorine solution, then rinsed with water, but ensure at least one minute of contact time with the chlorine solution.
  • 70% alcohol sanitizer (sprayable) must be used where water is not available or not applicable.
  • The staff member must ensure that the point person can bring their own pen to sign the delivery note, or ensure that the pen is well sanitised before and after use.
  • After every delivery, the staff member must update their RC via WhatsApp about the progress of each delivery point or make hourly contact.

7.4. End of delivery procedure

  • Clean the entire inside of the vehicle with water and soap, rinse with clean water and disinfect (spray) with chlorine 0.1% solution. Always clean from top-down (walls, seats, floors) and from the front end towards the exit doors of the vehicle. Chlorine should be rinsed off with clean water but only after at least one minute contact time with the chlorine solution.
  • Overalls: staff will be issued with overalls that can be put on before the visit and removed after the visit. If reusable, these should be stored on hooks attached to the wall (similar procedures should be followed as for the putting on and taking off of masks)
  • If the workplace has a washing machine, the overalls can be washed immediately after use. When putting on or taking off overalls do not shake or put them on the floor

7.5. Return home procedure:

  • Where staff use overalls or their own clothes, a careful routine should be followed on returning to their home.
  • Take your shoes off outside and leave them there.
  • No hugs or touching of others in the household.
  • Overalls or clothes should be taken off at the front door, followed by an immediate hot shower. If this is not possible a thorough cleaning of exposed skin should be done with soap and water or hands with ABHR.

7.6. Clothes washing

  • Whether clothes are washed at home or at work, a similar process should be followed.
  • Ideally, clothes should be placed in a clean washable bag.
  • Do not place used and possibly infectious clothes on the floor or in any containers.
  • Do not shake the dirty clothes. Shaking the clothes carries a possibility of dispersing the virus through the air.
  • Clothes can be washed in a machine at a warm temperature with soap and can be dried as usual.
  • Clothes can be washed by hand using soap and warm water, rinsed and wrung out by hand and can be dried as usual.
  • Staff are encouraged to iron their clothes before wearing them.
We are grateful for all contributions
to our work, regardless of their size.


33 Alan Paton Avenue, Scottsville

South Africa

+27 (0) 33 345 1222