2020 was quite the year for all of us, including employers. As COVID-19 walloped the globe, many businesses were forced to temporarily close due to regional or provincewide lockdowns.
Many are wondering what is in store for 2021. Ultimately, no one knows, but with vaccines starting to be rolled out across the country, there is hope, albeit cautious, that some level of normalcy will be attained in 2021.
That said, we aren’t out of the woods just yet and employers must remain vigilant in ensuring that they maintain a safe workplace, which includes keeping on top of, and implementing, all provincial and local public health unit COVID-19 related requirements. We know it’s exhausting to keep up with the ever-evolving rules regarding masking, screening and isolation, but hopefully it’s only for a little bit longer.
Most provincially-regulated employers in Ontario are required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. So, what can employers do to ensure they are adequately protecting their workers from COVID-19?
The following list is not exhaustive, but includes some of the measures that employers should implement, if they have not already done so:
- develop a COVID-19 safety plan. For more information, check here;
- limit the number of workers in the workplace by having workers work from home where possible;
- screen all individuals, including workers, clients and visitors, who enter the workplace;
- support self-isolation for workers with symptoms and workers who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases;
- ensure individuals maintain a physical distance of at least two metres;
- ensure workers, clients and visitors wear masks, face coverings and/or face shields;
- disinfect surfaces and objects regularly;
- support hand hygiene by making hand sanitizer and handwashing stations available;
- remind workers about good cough and sneeze etiquette and the importance of not touching their face;
- work with the local public health unit if any workers have COVID-19 or are exposed to someone with COVID-19; and
- ensure workers, including supervisors, are properly trained in and implement your COVID-19 safety measures and procedures.
If you are an employer and have questions regarding COVID-19 and workplace safety, please contact any member of Siskinds’ Labour and Employment Group.