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Workplaces, Employers and Employees
Depending on your type of workplace and your ability to maintain physical distancing from others, wearing a mask in your workplace may be required by one of several local or provincial mask orders.
Every worker in Ontario has the right to refuse work that he or she believes is unsafe to himself/ herself or another worker and may expose them to undue hazard. This right is covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. A work refusal is a last resort effort to protect the worker from exposure to the undue health hazard when efforts to have the risk mitigated have not been satisfactorily addressed.
An undue hazard is an “unwarranted, inappropriate, excessive, or disproportionate” hazard. For the COVID-19 pandemic, an “undue hazard” would be one where a worker’s job role places them at increased risk of exposure and adequate controls are not in place to protect them from that exposure. In these circumstances, the worker is advised to follow the detailed procedures outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act to resolve the issue.
The health unit does not issue return to work letters related to COVID-19 or any other illness. Please note that the Ontario government made changes to the Employment Standards Act and as a result employees do not need to provide a medical note if they need to be off work for illness. For more information, visit the Government of Ontario website.
All workplaces are required to prepare a safety plan and have it available in writing for review, upon request by the health unit. Learn more by visiting our COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan Requirements page.
Due to confidentiality concerns, the health unit will not be contacting workplaces to discuss individual cases however, individuals from that workplace may be contacted as a part of the contract tracing process. Individuals should inform their employer of their test results so that proper health and safety measures can be put in place. For more information, visit the ‘Managing COVID-19 Cases in the Workplace’ webpage.
The WECHU follows up with all COVID-19 cases and close contacts of any person confirmed with COVID-19 through laboratory tests.
If you are concerned about your safety at work, please contact your human resource department or internal occupational health and safety committee. If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 you will be contacted.
- The employer should work with the employee with COVID-19 to identify if others may have been exposed at the workplace while the person was contagious.
- The employer notifies employees, who were considered to have been close contacts, to self-isolate, and instruct lower risk contacts to self-monitor for 10 days from their last exposure to the case. This should be done while maintaining confidentiality of all affected employees.
- If a person with COVID-19 discloses illness to the employer, but others at the workplace have not been exposed (e.g. staff was not present while contagious), then further contact tracing would not be needed at the workplace. For more information about best practices for handling positive cases in the workplace and reporting guidelines, visit the ‘Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace’ webpage.
You may be considered a “close contact” if there was a high-risk exposure to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. For a more detailed list of high-risk exposures, how to determine if someone was a close contact, and what to do if you may have been exposed, visit WECHU’s Individuals with Symptoms, Positive Cases, Close Contacts page or the ‘Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace’ webpage.
Downloadable signs and posters are available for printing on the Resource & Signage webpage.
Visit the Individuals with Symptoms, Positive Cases, Close Contacts webpage for more information about self-monitoring for symptoms and self-isolating.
Employers can obtain current information about COVID-19 around Windsor-Essex County by visiting the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit website and following us on Facebook. Alternatively, you may also consider visiting the Government of Ontario, Public Health Ontario and Public Health Agency of Canada websites.
The province has an information line called ‘Stop the Spread’ that businesses can call with questions at 1-888-444-3659. This number is available 7 days a week.
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