Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace

Businesses and employers can prevent the spread of Covid -19 and keep their employees and their families safe and healthy by preparing the workplace and reducing the risk of transmission.

 

EVALUATE AND PREPARE

Stay informed of COVID-19 updates and guidance from the World Health Organization, Public Health Agency of Canada, and provincial and local public health agencies. An employer’s response should be based on the current scientific understanding of COVID-19 and official guidance.

  • Increase awareness about COVID-19 through communication with staff
  • Identify the areas where people have frequent contact with each other and share objects
  • Identify possible work-related exposure and health risks to your employees and how to reduce/ eliminate these risks
  • Increase the distance between desks and workstations as well as employees and customers (meters)
  • Prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members and/or dismissals of early childhood programs and schools
  • Explore the flexibility of policies and practices, such as teleworking arrangements, flexible hours, staggering start times, use of email and teleconferencing
  • Establish a process for ongoing communication with employees and business partners
  • Develop a contingency and business continuity plan

 

TAKE MEASURES

  • Post signage to alert workers of any signs and symptoms of acute respiratory illness
  • Display posters promoting hand-washing and respiratory hygiene
  • Ensure tissues and alcohol-based hand rubs are always available
  • Cancel or postpone all non-essential meetings or travel
  • Ensure that your sick leave policies are consistent with public health guidance 

 

HYGIENE

Encourage your employees to:

  • Wash their hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth unless they have just washed their hands
  • Cover their cough and sneeze with a tissue or into their arm, not their hand
  • Increase frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces such as

elevator buttons

 key boards

mouse

seating areas/ lunch tables

washrooms

bars

desks

phones

kitchens

computers

cash registers

  • If possible increase the spatial separation between desks and workstations as well as individuals from each other (2 metres)
  • Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips
  • Practice frequent hand hygiene, sneeze and cough etiquette, and stay home when ill or present symptoms.

 

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause illness ranging from a very mild, cold-like illness to a severe lung infection. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle ache
  • Headache
  • Difficulty breathing (shortness of breath)

 

Require employees to stay home if they feel sick or come down with any of the COVID-19 symptoms and to call their public health authority. Employees who have displayed symptoms should not be allowed to return to the workplace until they have been medically cleared by a physician.

 

TRAVELLING OUTSIDE OF CANADA

All returning travelers from anywhere outside of Canada (including the United States of America) are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to Canada. 

 

This article is a general discussion of certain developments and should not be relied upon as legal advice or be regarded as a comprehensive list. Special policies for workplaces and construction sites will be out in the near future.  

 

RESOURCES

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/preventing-covid-19-workplace-employers-employees-essential-service-workers.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/being-prepared.html

https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public-health-topics/covid-19-information-for-workplaces.aspx