Staying safe at work
Appropriate preventative measures should be in place for workers who continue to work during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Below are some workplace protections to consider.
Respirators are currently only required for certain tasks.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) website (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.htm) gives the following information on wearing masks.
- If you are a healthy individual, the use of a mask is not recommended for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
- Wearing a mask when you are not ill may give a false sense of security. There is a potential risk of infection with improper mask use and disposal. They also need to be changed frequently.
- However, your health-care provider may recommend you wear a mask if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, while you are seeking or waiting for care. In this instance, masks are an appropriate part of infection prevention and control measures. The mask acts as a barrier and helps stop the tiny droplets from spreading when you cough or sneeze.
Social distancing requires us to make changes to our everyday routines and to minimize close contact with others. This means keeping one to two arms’ length distance between ourselves and others. You may need to limit the number of workers on site to ensure these distances are kept.
Here are some tips for implementing social distancing measures in your workplace.
Evaluate your work tasks and workspace:
- Can you reduce or suspend non-essential work to allow some workers to stay home?
- Can any of your workers perform work tasks remotely (e.g. work from home)?
- Can you alternate and/or add additional shifts to reduce the risk of exposure and improve social distancing?
- Can you position the workers who are performing your essential business tasks further apart and still get the tasks done?
- Can any of your workers perform work tasks in a location that allows them to put more distance between themselves and their co-workers or customers?
Involve your occupational health and safety committee (OHC):
- Get your OHC (or worker representative) involved in brainstorming social distancing measures that could work in the spaces they work in.
- Have your OHC limit the interactions they have with others.
- Get your OHC involved in promoting approved social distancing measures.
Change the way space is used and shared at your workplace:
- Minimize sharing of office space, including work vehicles. When you do share, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces before you leave the space (like you do at the gym). For vehicles, this includes the steering wheel, gear shift and radio. For desks, this includes the computer keyboard and mouse, desk surface and phone.
- Schedule rotating coffee and meal breaks to allow for a two-metre distance between workers in all break rooms and do not share food or drink (no buffets).
- Cancel in-person meetings and hold meetings by teleconference, video conference or email instead.
- Use work vehicles as satellite offices for workers who can download work on their phone or portable computer.
- Field workers should muster from home rather than from an office, where feasible.
- Make the message clear that the friendliest thing your workers can do for their co-workers and customers is keep a distance of one to two metres between themselves and the people they work with.
- Encourage workers to use a standard greeting with each other that is positive but reminds others to keep a safe distance.