General Information for Workplaces
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Note: Certain premises may still require proof of vaccination status and/or the wearing of a mask or face covering to enter
Update to COVID-19 Safety Plans and Screening Requirements
As of March 21, 2022, businesses and workplaces in Ontario are no longer required to prepare a COVID-19 safety plan or require employees or customers to wear a mask/face covering. However, businesses and organizations may choose to implement their own rules related to masking. For a complete list of indoor spaces where masks are still required, visit the Provincial website or WECHU’s Restrictions webpage.
Businesses are also no longer required to conduct passive screening of employees or customers. However, workplaces may choose to implement their own rules regarding screening. Individuals can complete a COVID-19 screening online to ensure the most up-to-date guidelines.
Some employees may experience headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and/or joint pain in the first 48 hours of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. If these symptoms are mild, only began after vaccination, and the employee feels well enough to work, they are able to attend work.
If employees have any of the following symptoms, they should NOT report to work, should self-isolate and get tested (if eligible) as soon as possible:
- Fever and/or chills
- Cough or barking cough (new or worsening)
- Shortness of breath
- Decrease or loss of smell or taste
- For individuals under 18 years old: nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
Workplaces should review the Guidance for Employers Managing Workers with Symptoms within 48 Hours of COVID-19 Immunization document from the Ministry of Ontario for specific details.
Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Measures
Even though the province has gradually eased public health and workplace safety measures, each business and workplace can continue with the measures below to minimize the risk of COVID-19 outbreak in our community:
- Promote Physical Distancing
- Hand Hygiene & Respiratory Etiquette
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Enhance Cleaning and Disinfection
- Maintain Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems
- Communicate the latest guidance and public health advice
While a minimum physical distancing of two metres or more is no longer a requirement, it remains highly recommended to minimize the risk of spread of COVID-19.
To promote physical distancing, the WECHU recommends the following:
- Modify and manage the physical space to promote physical distancing, such as installing one-way walkways, spacing out seats, and removing surplus furniture from walkways.
- Use visual markers (e.g., tape on the floor, signs) to remind people where to stand to keep 2 metre distance from others.
- Continue to use physical barriers (e.g., plexiglass) when physical distancing is not possible.
- Post physical distancing signs at all entrances, employee rooms, elevators, and public areas (e.g., cashiers, service counters).
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.
- Providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations can further encourage employees and customers to engage in frequent hand hygiene.
- Reminding employees and customers to practice cough and sneeze etiquette by covering their mouth and nose with a tissue, upper sleeve, or elbow when coughing or sneezing, and to place the tissue directly into the garbage.
- 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.
- Requiring workers to conduct hand hygiene between every interaction with customers.
- 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 discard them at least every hour or more frequently if they become damaged or soiled. Never re-use a pair of disposable gloves,
- Hands should be washed and/or sanitized between changes.
- Educate staff on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- While no longer required in most settings, non-medical face coverings provide an additional layer of protection and help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Encouraging employees and customers to wear masks/face coverings can help keep your facility safe.
- The Ontario Government has created a poster providing further instructions on how to safely wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge.
- 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.
Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are part of a broad approach to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Health Canada has created list of approved hard surface disinfectants that prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Frequently touched surfaces are more likely to be contaminated and it is therefore important to ensure thorough cleaning at least once per day and when visibly dirty. Some of the more common high-touch surfaces are:
- Handles/door knobs/railings/grab bars
- Desk tops
- Telephones/cell phones
- Taps/toilet handles/hand sanitizer and soap dispensers
- Kitchen appliances and surfaces, and water fountains
- Computers keyboards and mouse
- Light switches/elevator buttons
- Cash registers/touchpad surfaces
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 policies and procedures 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).
Have Questions? The Government of Ontario has a toll-free information line to support businesses during COVID-19. Business owners and operators can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. For more information visit Ontario’s website.