Disaster Management

Water Crises

Health and safety.PNG

We recently received a Water Alert communication from our municipality – Ekurhuleni, that water shortages are to be anticipated for the next few days as Rand Water will be working on the main water supply doing some installations.  It is reported that several areas will be affected. This is all good and well from the communication and transparency point of view.

“This is part of life” as someone might say. We know that this doesn’t only affect residential areas but companies as well. These companies have employees who are expected to be at work for the duration of the interruption. In fulfilling their business continuity objectives, some employers do demonstrate a proactive approach by sourcing services such as mobile toilets to ensure that their business aren’t impacted negatively.

City of Cape experienced severe drought conditions over the post years and as a result implemented a corporate plan to manage water shortages. As part of that plan, they went as far as changing a while and they even went to an extent of changing their water-borne flushing system to avacuum flushing system.

What stood out for me was one of their Principles and objectives of the Critical Water Shortages Disaster Plan was written as follows:

-          Ensuring every person in the city has access to sufficient water to drink and isable to maintain health and hygiene;

-          Ensuring appropriate measures are in place to limit and respond to outbreaksof water-borne diseases.

Well, fortunately or unfortunately I found myself in one of the malls within the Mother City and naturally, had to respond to the inevitable call of nature. The usual water-borne flushing system was replaced with a vacuum flush toilet, worked wonders I must say. The experience didn’t end on high on an anticipated high note as there was no water to wash my hands or access to sanitizer.


Facilities Regulation is part of the Occupational health and Safety Act and sets out hygiene requirements for sanitary facilities such as Toilets, washbasins and change rooms.

Employers should take note to ensure that they comply with these regulations. Basic requirements include provision of toilet paper, eating areas, toilets and change rooms. To remain compliant to these regulations, employers should supply temporary facilities in the event of water disruptions, outages etc.


v  ensuring the provision of enough safe water for drinking and for personal hygiene to the people affected by the crisis;

v  ensuring that all people affected by the crisis have access to hygienic sanitation facilities;

v  promoting good hygiene behaviours.

“The provision of drinking water and sanitation services in health facilities is a top priority. Safe drinking water, basic sanitation facilities and safe disposal of infectious wastes will prevent the spread of disease and improve health conditions” - WHO

It’s very common that in our quest to perfect our strategies, we omit certain little things that have the potential to create new problems. What does lack of sanitiser to the health and safety of people? Or should I rather ask, how can lack of a sanitizer affect people’s health? Let’s look at issues from the Environmental Health perspective.  Listed below are environmental factors influencing the spread of communicable diseases that could cause.

v  Water supply

v  Sanitation facilities

v  Food

v  Climate.

Compliance with applicable legal requirements remains the obligation of all employers, regardless of which municipality they are located in. It is in the employer’s best interest to stay informed of changes in the legislation whether in the event of an emergency or if its business as usual. Each company’s business continuity plan should also address situation that may have a negative impact on employees’ safety or their health. Because a healthy work force is a productive one.

Written by Juliet Kekana – Managing Director – De-novo HSE Training and Consulting

For more information on our health and safety services, visit our website www.denovohse.co.za

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This edition

Issue 42