Eskom denies a union’s charge that the Koeberg power station violated protocol when an employee tested positive for Covid-19.
The utility company says it has put in place measures to stop the spread of coronavirus disease long before the national state comes into effect.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Tuesday accused Koeberg’s management of “not respecting the lives of its employees”.
The allegation comes after an employee in the operating department fell ill on April 27 and tested positive for Covid-19.
In addition to sending the employee home immediately, Eskom’s guidelines require that the area where he or she works is blocked and disinfected within 48 hours and that all employees who have had contact with the person are quarantined and sent home for 14 days.
“In the case of the Koeberg employee who tested positive, the area was never immediately closed off. Employees were still allowed into the workplace, possibly infected by the coronavirus, ”says Khangela Baloyi, union representative at Eskom for the NUM in the Western Cape.
Baloyi said 21 employees worked with the Covid-19 patient, and they were also in contact with employees in other departments.
“The employees who were in contact with the person are still not in quarantine. They are still expected to come to work as their shift schedule determines. “
However, Eskom outlined a different version of events in a statement on Wednesday. According to Eskom, the employee went to the doctor because they(the person’s gender was not disclosed) did not feel well. His doctor had him tested for Covid-19.
“The person immediately reported the positive result to his manager and was placed in isolation.”
Eskom says employees who were in “close contact” with the individual – a total of seven people – were also immediately placed in self-insulation.
Six of these people’s test results have already been received; they are negative.
Eskom says the area where they work was cleaned and disinfected immediately, “in line with Covid 19 guidelines and Eskom policy”.
Eskom says, like other workplaces, it has more than one Covid-19 case nationwide because its employees are part of the general population.
“Eskom takes its responsibility to protect its employees very seriously and has put in place strict measures to prevent and combat infection. Our workplaces are regularly cleaned and disinfected to prevent the virus from entering the workplace.
“Other pandemic prevention measures were introduced almost a month before the national state of containment began. This includes testing employees at unusually high temperatures before they can enter the workplace, and providing hand sanitizers and protective equipment such as masks to all employees. ”
The NUM calls on the Department of Health and the Department of Employment and Labor to investigate the cases.
Eskom says it will welcome investigations.