Beier Group helps South Africa get back to business – safely
With cases of COVID-19 in decline across South Africa, the national conversation has shifted towards the urgent need for economic recovery. Yet the threat posed by the virus, and the possibility of resurgence, remain. As workplaces fill up, appropriate protections for employees are more important than ever – and the Beier Group is playing its part to ensure South Africans can resume vital economic activity and stay safe and healthy, too.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is, first and foremost, a health crisis, the costs of mitigating the spread of the virus have been severe – making this an economic crisis, too. Over the past few months, amid mounting job losses and rising inequality, the need to resume normal operations had become too pronounced to ignore, and a gradual reopening of the economy began. Yet workers should not be forced to make a risky choice between earning a living and personal health – which is why helping them to ‘coexist with COVID’ as safely as possible is so critical at this time.
As a leading manufacturer in the technical textiles and personal protective equipment industries, the Beier Group is uniquely placed to make a contribution towards this effort. Its BBF Safety Group member company is the largest head-to-toe personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturer in Africa – and creating safer working environments is part of its DNA.
In May, with the support of a growing network of SMME partners, BBF was among the first companies in the country to develop a locally manufactured and reusable filtered mask for use by the general public that was in compliance with recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). Donating these masks on a large scale to those who need it most was an opportunity for Beier to make a real difference to the wellbeing of South Africans.
“Research continues to show that masks are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 through respiratory droplets, particularly in indoor spaces like offices and other work spaces that may have poor ventilation,” notes JW Eggink, technical manager for respiratory protection at BBF. “Knowing this, we wanted to do our part in giving people the confidence to fully and safely resume work activities, which is so critical to economic recovery at this time.”
The Nikki reusable filtered masks comply with WHO guidelines for general-use masks in acting as a physical barrier to extremely small viral droplets with a filtration efficiency of up to five microns. A total of 400,000 of these masks to the value of R6 million are now being distributed for free inside BBF’s fastest-moving lines of safety footwear.
“We know that PPE budgets are tight right now, but it’s imperative that employees feel safe to return to work because it’s the only way we’ll be able to keep the economy going,” notes Group Marketing Manager, Peter Gerbrands.
And it’s not only the workplace that puts people at increased risk of contracting the virus – for many workers who rely on public transport, travelling to that workplace can be a safety challenge too. With this in mind, Beier Group has also donated 5,000 of the Nikki reusable filtered masks, to the value of R75 000, for distribution at taxi ranks in the Durban area.
“Whilst our own employees may have easy access to these locally manufactured masks, the same cannot necessarily be said for all daily commuters who rely on public transport, especially under these trying economic times that have put South Africans and their employees under financial strain. This is why we are handing the masks out for free,” says Silvio Ceriani, CEO of BBF Safety Group.
Wolfgang Beier, CEO of the Beier Group, emphasises that businesses have a pivotal role to play in driving recovery and building a better South Africa in the wake of this crisis.
“From the very onset of the pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised that our recovery would hinge on strong responses based on solidarity, cooperation and social responsibility from all sectors of society – a ‘social compact’ to make us all more resilient against the economic and health impacts of this virus,” he notes. “This challenging time is an opportunity to strengthen that social compact. As a company, we are embracing that opportunity.”