Infectious Diseases

Algoma Public Health

COVID-19 Safety at Work

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On March 9, 2022 the province announced a shift to a more balanced response to the pandemic. More details about the Ministry of Health’s plan for lifting remaining public health and workplace safety, visit the Living With and Managing COVID-19 page.

Learning to live with COVID-19 means moving away from mandated measures, towards making decisions that we as individuals, businesses and organizations feel are necessary based on our own risk assessment. 

Here are a few things to think about when assessing the level of risk in your workplace:

  • The current status of COVID-19 in the community
  • What would make employees feel safe at work? Ask them for input.
  • Who in the workplace is more vulnerable to severe illness (e.g., seniors, people with underlying health conditions or are immune compromised) and how can you protect them?
  • What characteristics of the work environment increase risk and what can be done to minimize the risk? Consider factors such as the size of the space and ability to physically distance, the ventilation, and the types of interactions between clients and staff.
  • While safety plans are no longer mandatory, it can still be used as a tool you can use to help identify ways to protect employees, clients, patrons, and volunteers.

 

Employer Responsibilities

 

Employers have an obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to ensure a safe and healthy work environment that protects workers from hazards, including infectious diseases like COVID-19. Additionally, there is a duty to report occupational illnesses to the Ministry of Labour.

 

Workplace Safety Measures to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission

 

As mandatory measures are lifted by the provincial government, businesses and organizations are encouraged to continue using the strategies that they feel are necessary to minimize risk of exposure in the workplace.

 

Masking

 

Wearing a mask is an additional tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Who should wear a mask?

 

  • Anyone who is at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection
  • Employees and visitors of high-risk settings
  • Someone who is self-monitoring after a COVID-19 exposure (close contact)
  • If you tested positive or had COVID-19 symptoms in the last 10 days and have completed your isolation period

People will have different comfort levels when it comes to whether or not to wear a mask. It is important to be kind and respect each other's decision.

 

The Roadmap Exit Step (Schedule 4) outlines settings where masking is still required from March 21, 2022 until April 27, 2022.

 

The decision to maintain and enforce masking in the workplace after the mask mandate is lifted is up to workplaces. Masking continues to be a measure that can be used to protect staff and preserve the workforce.

 

Screening

 

Staying home when sick is essential for stopping the spread of COVID-19, as well as other illnesses, and maintaining adequate staffing levels.

Employers are strongly encouraged to have their own policies and procedures in place that prevent someone from entering the workplace if they have recently tested positive or have symptoms of COVID-19.

 

To do this, workplaces can:

 

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

 

Keeping your hands clean through good hygiene practice is one of the most important steps to avoid getting sick and spreading germs.

Hand sanitizers are very useful when soap and water are not available. When your hands are not visibly dirty, then a 70-90% alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used. 

 

Promote good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette by:

 

  • Ensuring an adequate supply of liquid soap, paper towel, hand sanitizer, tissues, and waste receptacles throughout the workplace, and washrooms
  • Providing hand sanitizers dispensers (70% - 90% alcohol concentration) by entrances for everyone to use
  • Posting signage to educate and remind employees

 

Ventilation

 

Good air ventilation and filtration help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing virus particles in the air. Ensure ventilation systems are in good working condition and operating properly. Replace filters as scheduled or sooner. When weather permits, increase air flow by opening windows.


 

COVID-19 Vaccination

 

Vaccination is the cornerstone of the response to COVID-19. A complete vaccine series is the best defense against getting and spreading COVID-19.

Since two doses are less effective against Omicron, a third dose is strongly encouraged for anyone who is eligible. Data from the Omicron wave suggests that third doses substantially reduced COVID-19 hospitalization and ICU occupancy.

 

Employers can support vaccination efforts by:

 



Mental Health

 

It's normal for situations like COVID-19 to affect mental health. Everyone will experience this pandemic in their own way. It is completely natural to feel stress and concern during these times and so it is important to practice positive coping strategies. It is also completely OK to ask for help.

Find more information and resources to help here.

 

 

COVID-19 Benefit Programs

 

Various COVID-19 benefit programs in Canada and Ontario have been extended. To find out more information on the available resources and benefit programs, click on the links below:

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

 

 

Resources

 

 

Contact Us

 

If you are looking for COVID related information, please visit our case and contact information guide on our website, or contact 705-942-4646 x 5404

 

If you are looking for general information on healthy workplaces in Algoma, please email healthyworkplaces@algomapublichealth.com