General Information for Workplaces
Additional Public Health Measures as written in the December 5, 2021 Letter of Instruction come into effect on 12:01 am, December 10, 2021.
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For information about additional local restrictions being enforced, please read following:
- Letter of Instruction for all residents and employers, business owners and operators and person(s) responsible for organized gatherings in the region of Windsor-Essex updated on December 5, 2021.
Please note that this updated letter of instruction includes the following restriction regarding social gatherings, including but not limited to holiday parties: These gatherings must be conducted virtually to avoid larger groups of individuals congregating.
Letter of Instruction for all owners, operators and persons responsible for facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities issued on September 27, 2021 (amended November 10, 2021)
- Class Order for Workplaces with Cases of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
- For general information on the latest public health measures, advice and restrictions, from the Ministry of Ontario, please visit the COVID-19 Public Health Measures and Advice webpage.
- For a detailed breakdown of restrictions at specific businesses, places of work, public/private spaces and more, please visit the “Restrictions for Businesses” section on the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 webpage.
November 16, 2021: Ontario has updated the Proof of Vaccination Guidance Document for businesses, organizations, and facilities and the Question and Answers document . For additional support and information, please visit our COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Businesses Owners webpage.
October 22, 2021: Ontario releases plan to safely reopen Ontario and manage COVID-19 for the long-term
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, released A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term.
This plan outlines the province’s approach to lifting the remaining public health and workplace safety measures by March 2022.
All open businesses must:
- Screen employees and customers
- Post signs at all entrances informing people how to screen themselves for COVID-19 before entry
- Limit capacity so guests can stay at least 2 metres apart
- Ensure everyone indoors wears a mask or face covering, including workers who have to come within 2 metres of anyone else (with some exceptions)
- Make sure workers use personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects their eyes, nose and mouth when they must come within 2 metres of anyone who is not wearing a mask or face covering or separated by plexiglass
- Clean and disinfect often-touched surfaces, such as equipment, washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms and showers frequently
- Manage line ups to make sure customers are at least two metres apart wearing face coverings or masks
- Create a safety plan, post it in a place where workers and patrons will see it and have it available upon request (for example, to inspectors or law enforcement officers) Please read additional safety plan details below.
- Enable remote work for workers, where reasonably possible, to reduce the number of workers exposed to the risk of transmission at the organization. Additionally, as much as possible limiting the gathering of employees by:
- Utilizing virtual options for meetings;
- Ensuring physical distancing in lunchrooms/break rooms as well as other locations where workers may be eating and/or drinking; and
- Staggering lunches or breaks.
- Note: Certain premises also require proof of vaccination status to enter. For a list of these locations and for guidance on how to implement this requirement, please review the Proof of Vaccination Guidance for Businesses and Organizations under the Reopening Act document from the Ministry of Health.
COVID-19 Safety Plan and Screening Requirements
All businesses and workplaces are required to prepare a COVID-19 Safety Plan and make it visible and available upon request.
To assist with this task, the WECHU has created a COVID-19 Safety Plan Template (PDF) and fillable Word document with examples. The safety plan should be posted in a location that is visible to individuals working in or attending the location.
Workplaces are also required to review safety plans with workers regularly, at least once per month and make adjustments as needed. These meetings must be documented and include the following data elements:
- date of meeting
- summary of discussion
For specific questions related your COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan, please contact your area Public Health Inspector or call the Environmental Health department at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.
Workers (e.g., staff, volunteers, suppliers, contractors, essential visitors) must complete COVID-19 screening before or when they enter the workplace at the beginning of their day or shift. For clients and customers visiting a workplace in-person, owners and operators must ask that they complete a COVID-19 screening process before entering your workplace or business.
The Government of Ontario has created screening tools for workers and customers. Screening questions may be completed on paper, online or by asking staff directly, and are available below:
- Screening for Workers: Online | Download/Print
- COVID-19 Signage Questions for Businesses and Organizations: Download/Print
- Screening tool for Customers or Patrons: Online | Download/Print
Only the businesses and organizations outlined in the Reopening Ontario Act are required to actively screen patrons.
Note: In addition to screening, certain premises also require proof of vaccination status to enter. For a list of these locations and for guidance on how to implement this requirement, please review the Proof of Vaccination Guidance for Businesses and Organizations under the Reopening Act document from the Ministry of Health.
Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Measures
- Promote Physical Distancing
- Hand Hygiene & Respiratory Etiquette
- Personal Protective Equipment
Enhance Cleaning and Disinfection
- Maintain Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems
For more information about Infection Prevention and Control measures in a “Hierarchy of Control” framework, refer to WECHU’s Risk Assessment for Workplaces webpage or the resource section at the end of this document.
Physical distancing is an effective measure to minimize the risk of person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. To ensure a minimum of 2 metres of physical distancing, the WECHU recommends the following:
- Marking out a distance of 2 metres between seats and waiting areas to ensure physical distancing in shared spaces and lines (e.g., reception areas, break rooms, meeting rooms, waiting rooms, grocery lines, kitchenettes, elevators, offices and other workspaces).
- Masks and physical barriers provide added layers of protection, but are not substitutes for physical distancing.
- Modify and manage the physical space to promote physical distancing:
- Install one-way walkways to reduce close physical interactions.
- Remove surplus furniture and supplies from rooms and walkways to allow ease of movement while maintaining physical distancing.
- Move or tape off furniture in lunchrooms, meeting rooms, and other areas, so staff or customers cannot sit within 2 metres from each other.
- Close off alternate workstations and/or customer service windows/check-outs where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Use visual markers (e.g., tape on the floor, pylons, signs) to remind people where to stand to keep 2 metre distance from others (e.g., on a production line).
- Install physical barriers (e.g., plexiglass) when physical distancing is not possible.
- The height of the barrier should take into account the tallest user and should consider the user’s breathing zone, which generally extends 30 centimeters, or 12 inches, around and above the mid-point of a person’s face.
- Use outdoor spaces whenever possible.
- Manage employee and customer lines. Operators are required to ensure that customers maintain 2 metres physical distance from others and wear a mask or face covering, while waiting in line.
- Post physical distancing signs at all entrances, employee rooms, elevators, and public areas (e.g., cashiers, service counters).
- Minimize the number of people in the workplace and adhere to maximum capacity limits for your workplace.
- Cancel or hold virtually all in-person activities that are discretionary.
- Offer and promote teleworking options wherever possible.
- Host virtual meetings.
- Enable flexible work hours and schedules.
- Stagger work shifts and breaks to reduce gathering in common areas (e.g., entrance, lunchroom, locker room).
- Assign staff to groups that are physically separated in different areas or have rotating schedules, if possible, so that groups do not mix at any time.
- Assign workstations and equipment to a single user if possible, or limit the number of users.
- Post signs with the number of people allowed into the premise and within each room/space.
- Dedicate specific hours to high-risk populations, including those over 70 and with disabilities.
- Encourage staff who carpool to limit the number of passengers in their car, not to drive or ride if they are sick, and to follow WECHU’s guidance for taxis and ride-share vehicles.
Businesses and workplaces must promote and support proper hand hygiene as well as cough and sneeze etiquette to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by:
- Ensuring there are enough supplies available for proper hand hygiene, including pump soap, warm running water and paper towels.
- Reminding employees and customers to practice cough and sneeze etiquette by covering their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and to place the tissue directly into the garbage. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve or elbow and avoid sneezing directly into hands.
- Following a sneeze or a cough, hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used.
- Including alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations at prominent locations throughout the workplace to supplement hand washing. Portable hand sanitizer bottles should also be provided to workers at their workstations, if they interact directly with customers. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should contain at least 70-90% alcohol.
- Requiring workers to conduct hand hygiene between every interaction with customers.
- Encouraging customers to sanitize hands upon entry and exit of the workplace and limit handling of products to just those they need.
- Posting signage to remind employees and customers about the importance of properly washing or sanitizing your hands at appropriate intervals.
- Reminding employees that glove use is not a substitute for proper hand hygiene.
- If gloves are used, it is important to change them every hour, or more often, as necessary (e.g. when changing tasks).
- Hands should be washed and/or sanitized between changes.
- When gloves are removed, new gloves must be used each time.
- Educate staff on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- Non-medical face coverings are required for both employees and customers when in the workplace, with very limited exceptions. Eye protection for employees is also required in some cases.
- The Ontario Government has created a poster providing further instructions on how to safely wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge.
- In general, medical PPE should be reserved for Health Care Workers, First Responders, and other employees who require this equipment to do their job safely. If work involves direct contact with individuals confirmed or suspected to be infected with COVID-19, or direct contact with COVID-19 contaminated objects or environments, Public Health Ontario recommends that the appropriate personal protective equipment is used, such as gloves, gown, surgical/procedure mask, and face shield or goggles. For protection against COVID-19, N95 respirators are only required for aerosol generating medical procedures and when otherwise determined by a regulated health professional.
- If personal protective equipment is provided by the employer, employees must be trained on safe use, care, and limitations, including putting on and taking off equipment and proper disposal.
- To support workers who require PPE and the economic recovery of the province, the government has launched a website to provide businesses with information on PPE suppliers. The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory has an up-to-date list of Ontario companies and business associations that are ready to supply personal protective equipment to keep your employees and customers safe from COVID-19.
- In addition, the province has created grants for eligible small businesses to help them stay open and stay safe. Small business owners with 2-19 employees can apply for up to $1,000 for PPE and businesses with under 100 employees that were required to close in the December 26th lockdown or experienced a minimum of 20% revenue decline comparing April 2019 to April 2020 revenues can apply for $10,000 to $20,000. Visit Businesses: Get help with COVID-19 costs | Ontario.ca
- An alternative option is to acquire a supply of cloth masks, by having them made or by purchasing from a local supplier.
Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are part of a broad approach to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The use of disinfectants with a Drug Identification Number (DIN) is recommended to limit the spread of COVID-19. A DIN is an 8-digit number located on the package or bottle of disinfectant and this indicates that it has been approved for use by Health Canada. Health Canada has created list of approved hand sanitizers and disinfectants that prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings, frequently touched surfaces are more likely to be contaminated and it is therefore important to ensure thorough cleaning at least once per day or when visibly dirty. Each workplace should determine their high touch areas, but here are some of the more common high-touch surfaces to consider as a starting point:
- Handles/door knobs
- Railings/grab bars
- Desk tops
- Telephones/cell phones
- Toilet handles
- Kitchen appliances and surfaces
- Water fountains
- Hand sanitizer dispensers
- Computers keyboards and mouse
- Light switches
- Cash registers
- Touchpad surfaces
- Elevator buttons
Wherever possible, use a pre-mixed solution of cleaner and disinfectant. Ensure that you check the expiry date when using any cleaning or disinfectant products or mixtures and:
- Wear gloves and any other PPE as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparing the solution and allow adequate contact time for disinfectant to kill germs.
- Refer to your workplace for additional specific protocols related to the cleaning and disinfection of other surfaces, areas, or materials to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Equipment and tools that must be shared should be cleaned and disinfected regularly, including between users (e.g., cashier’s stations, machinery). If staff are separated into assigned groups, clean and disinfect shared spaces between rotating groups.
- Ensure adequate ventilation when using products (e.g., open windows, doors, or use fans).
Protective Eyewear FAQs
No. Prescription eyeglasses are not accepted as a form of eye protection as they may not fully cover the eye area and do not provide coverage from the side. If prescription eyeglasses are worn, another type of eye protection must be worn over the eyeglasses.
Eye protection, such as goggles, face shields, and safety glasses, can be re-used by the same user if it is cleaned/disinfected after each use or until it becomes cracked or visibility is compromised. Eye protection must be cleaned and disinfected between uses. When dry, store in a labelled paper or plastic bag.
Remove the eye protection by grasping the side arms and pulling the eye protection forward without touching the front of the eyewear, then perform proper hand hygiene.
Face shields must cover the front and sides of the face to reduce the possibility of splash, spray or respiratory droplets from going around the edges of the shield. Goggles should fit snuggly around the eyes. Safety glasses should fit snugly with no gaps between the glasses and the worker’s face. Ensure that eye protection is compatible with your face mask or covering, so there is not interference with proper wear of the mask or eyewear.
All eye protection should be properly cleaned and disinfected between uses. If manufacturer instructions for cleaning and disinfecting protective eyewear is unavailable:
- Perform proper hand hygiene; carefully wipe the inside, followed by the outside of the face shield or goggles using a clean cloth saturated with neutral detergent solution or cleaner wipe.
- Carefully wipe the outside of the protective eyewear with a healthcare grade disinfecting wipe.
- Wipe the outside with clean water or alcohol to remove residue.
- Allow to fully dry by air or use a clean absorbent towels.
- Perform proper hand hygiene.
Goggles, face shields, or safety glasses can be used as acceptable eye protection. Goggles provide the most reliable eye protection from splashes, sprays, and respiratory droplets, with a snug fit around the eyes. Face shields must cover the front and sides of the face to reduce the possibility of splash, spray or respiratory droplets from going around the edges of the shield. Safety glasses may be used but they do not provide the same level of protection from splashes, sprays and respiratory droplets as goggles or face shields. Please review the WECHU’s COVID-19 Workplace Eye Protection Fact Sheet for more information.
Under the Ministry of Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, eye protection has been added as an additional method of personal protective equipment in workplaces (in addition to a mask), during instances where patrons without face coverings are within 2 metres of workers. An example of a setting where this occurs:
Restaurants or Bars: Servers who come within 2 metres of patrons who have removed their masks to eat or drink.
Personal Service Settings: Personal service providers when they are performing a facial service on a client who must remove their mask to receive the service.
- Employment Standards Act
- COVID-19 Guidance: Workplace Outbreak
- COVID-19 public health measures and restrictions
- COVID-19 Quick Reference Public Health Guidance on Testing and Clearance
- COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario safe and open
- COVID-19 self-isolation and return to work
- COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan
- Find A COVID-19 Assessment Centre
- Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- Management of Cases and Contacts of COVID-19 in Ontario
- Online COVID-19 self-assessment
- You were tested for COVID-19: What you should know
Dos & Don'ts in Lunch Room
Drinking Fountain Precautions During Covid19
Max Capacity Sign
Park Signs - 12x18 signs
Stand Here - 12x12 Circle Floor Sticker
Please Stand Back - Sign
Please Sanitize Before Entering - Sign
This Area Cleaned - Table Tent
Do Not Use Work Station - Table Tent
Don't Enter If Sick - Sign
Wear Mask - Sign
Complete Assessment - Sign
Wash Hands - Sign
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s Workplace Mental Health Promotion & COVID-19 web page contains more information, resources, and tools for maintaining positive mental health and psychological wellness in the workplace during COVID-19.