Assess the risk for employees and customers
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Employers must conduct an assessment of their workplace to determine possible areas that could contribute to the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The Government of Canada’s ‘Risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic’ provides more detailed information about identifying risk and implementing risk mitigation strategies. This process should involve employees, staff, supervisors, business owners, and if present, joint health and safety representatives. Even after opening, it is important that businesses continue to explore ways to make sure any potential risks are mitigated or minimized on a day-to-day basis. The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in partnership with other health and safety organizations, have also developed sector-specific guidance with additional considerations unique to the context of each business or workplace. To understand the risk at your workplace, as a minimum, it is important to consider the following questions. Of course, depending on the size, nature, and resources of your business, not all sections or questions will apply.
- Does your workplace/business have a pandemic preparedness plan?
- Do you have a risk communication plan to share information with your employees, contractors, and clients?
Policies and Practices
- Can your workplace/business support flexible workplace policies (e.g., teleworking arrangements, staggered hours)?
- Where do people gather, such as break rooms, production lines, or meeting rooms? Is there a way of ensuring physical distancing in these environments?
- Does your workplace/business offer, or know how to link, your employees to mental health promotion or support services?
Demographics of Your Workforce and Customers/Clients
- Do you know if some of your employees/clients are from demographic groups at greater risk of severe disease, such as those 70 or older, or people with underlying medical conditions?
- Are your clients at greater risk of spreading the disease (e.g., young children)?
Environment and Workplace Setting
- Consider the type of service your workplace/business provides (e.g., customer service, food service, manufacturing, hoteling, rideshare)?
- Will employees/clients be participating in activities that promote transmission?
- In what setting is your workplace/business located (e.g., a community-setting, large public space, office)?
- Is the majority of the work or services carried out indoors, outdoors or both?
- Can your workplace/business infrastructure be easily altered or modified to implement public health and infection prevention and control measures (e.g., additional hand cleaning stations, spatial separation of 2-metre between workstations)?
- How do clients/customers/contractors primarily access your workplace/business (e.g., by public transit or personal vehicle)?
- Are there restricted points of entry and exit that force people to be in close proximity and/or pass through high-touch areas (e.g. turnstiles, fingerprint entry, doors, elevators)?
- Does your workplace have existing environmental cleaning procedures and protocols? Can they be enhanced to align with public health advice?
- What surfaces are touched often (e.g., doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, equipment, shared tools)? What is the plan to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently?
Occupational Health and Safety
- What job tasks or processes require workers to come into close proximity with one another or members of the public?
- What tools, machinery, and equipment are commonly used during the course of their work?
- Do your employees have access to Occupational Health and Safety services on site? How will symptomatic individuals in the workplace/business setting be managed? How will close contacts be managed?
- Have you or an Occupational Health and Safety member assessed risk associated with employee interactions with the public?
- Have you or an Occupational Health and Safety member assessed the risk of employees interacting directly with spaces occupied by the general public?
The Public Services Health & Safety Association (PSHSA) Readiness Assessment is a self-administered questionnaire that may also help businesses asses how prepared they are to safely reopen and sustainably resume operations in the workplace during COVID-19.