IMPORTANT NOTE: As of Jan. 12, 2021, the Province has announced a second State of Emergency in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials and follow these restrictions and public health measures.
The State of Emergency will affect the way many businesses/workplaces open and operate. Please click here to find out how it will impact you.
On This Page:
- Key messages
- Workplace health and safety resources
- Latest Updates
- What if There is a Case of COVID-19 in My Workplace?
- If staff/workers are performing tasks indoors that require them to be less than 2 metres from an unmasked or improperly masked individual without a barrier (e.g. Plexiglass, partition, wall), appropriate Personal Protective Equipment must be worn, including proper protection for eyes, nose and mouth. At a minimum, this would include a medical mask and eye protection (NOTE: This is also a requirement of the Ministry of Labour). Please refer to this COVID-19 Eye Protection guidance resource for more information.
- Ensure employees are equipped with the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed to do their jobs. For a directory of Workplace PPE Providers, click here.
- Reinforce physical distancing whenever and wherever possible:
- Allow staff to work from home if possible.
- Avoid face-to-face meetings.
- Avoid sharing work stations, tools or equipment.
- Alter shifts and stagger breaks.
- In lunch rooms and other common areas, use floor markings to show 2-metre distance between chairs. Ensure 2 metre distance is also maintained between co-workers when they remove masks to eat or drink.
- Offer delivery or curbside pick up for customers and clients.
- Practise good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette always. Remind employees to wash their hands frequently with soap and water. Provide hand sanitizer and ensure access to handwashing facilities and soap.
- Clean and disinfect work stations, and all commonly touched surfaces often.
- Ontario is now requiring that non-medical masks or face coverings be worn inside public places. Employees who work with the public are covered by this. Provide education to workers on proper mask fit and when a mask can temporarily be removed.
- Recommend safe carpooling among employees. Ensure physical distancing on the drive to work. Stick to two people per vehicle. The second person should sit in the back, passenger-side seat to ensure proper distance from the driver. Masks should be worn on the trip. The only exception to this two-person limit is if travelling in the same vehicle with people from your own household.
- Develop a plan to effectively manage employee absence and ensure that everyone stays home if they are sick.
- Consider employee and visitor screening strategies. Place posters at entrances and employee common spaces. You may also want to get staff to complete a health screening questionnaire before each work shift. The survey would ask if staff have any COVID-19 symptoms. Such a questionnaire could be done electronically or using a paper-based questionnaire sheet like the sample provided here. The Ministry of Health also has a COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces to use.
- Train employees on key public health measures to prevent COVID-19. These workplace videos can help.
- Regularly communicate and share credible and evidenced based information with employees and customers. Provide ongoing updates and let them know what you are doing to keep them healthy during the pandemic.
- Support your employee’s mental health. Put in place policies that support employees who need to be absent from work due to illness or being in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. Remind staff of their Employee and Family Assistance Program if your workplace has one. You can also share these Mental Health supports.
- Develop a plan on what to do if a person who is sick visits or comes to work at your business.
- Support any COVID-19 instructions your employees have received from a health care provider. This protects the health of your workers and customers.
Workplace health and safety resources
Visit the Ontario government website for a full list of sector-specific guidelines for reopening. You can also go to these Ontario health and safety associations for more COVID-19 health and safety advice tailored to your workplace:
- Workplace Safety and Prevention Services
- Public Services Health and Safety Association
- Workplace Safety North
- Infrastructure Health and Safety Association
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- Workers Health and Safety Centre
- Advice For Businesses on Reopening During COVID-19
- List of Essential Services Allowed to Stay Open During COVID-19
- Ontario’s Framework for Reopening After COVID-19
- Stop the Spread Business Information Line – Call 1-888-444-3659 for advice on essential services and how to reopen
What if There is a Case of COVID-19 in My Workplace?
- Anyone with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 must NOT go to work and should self-isolate at home. Employees should not return to work until the required self-isolation period is over. Further direction on this will be provided by the Health Unit.
- Employees are responsible to report COVID-19 illness to their employer if it is likely to cause illness to another person in the workplace. If an employee discloses they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with the virus, confirm they are self-isolating.
- Physical distancing rules at work mean employees should not be in close contact with each other. If an employee is identified as being a close contact of a co-worker who is confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19, the person should immediately take Ontario’s online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see what further care is needed. They can also call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. The employee may also be contacted by the Health Unit with further directions on what to do, including self-isolating or self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Employers are strongly urged to support the COVID-19 instructions your employees have received from any health care provider. This protects the health of your workers and customers.
- Employers should also put in place policies that support employees who need to be absent from work due to illness or being a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case.
- The Health Unit does not recommend that employers require clearance testing or doctor’s notes for employees to return to work.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that may have been touched by an employee with COVID-19 as soon as possible. Continue to frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched or shared surfaces at work, including tools, equipment and workstations.
- Encourage everyone at work to continue following physical distancing rules (staying 2 metres or 6 feet apart from others) and regularly wash hands with soap and water
- Toronto Public Health has developed a COVID-19 Decision Guide for Workplaces to help determine when it is safe for employees to return to work. The Guide is included here for your information.
- Follow direction from the Health Unit about any extra precautions that are needed to reduce the risk of illness. These directives can include: getting employees/staff who were in close contact with the customer/client to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, increasing cleaning and disinfecting at your workplace, and other measures
- Continue to keep employees and customers safe:
- Follow provincial rules that specify how your business/workplace can operate (for example, only offer curbside pickup, limit number of people in store, etc.).
- Ensure a 2-metre (6-foot) distance is kept between people.
- Reduce overcrowding.
- Increase your online or phone services
- Offer curb-side delivery
- Make hand sanitizer available for customers at entry and exit points.
You can find and follow updates on COVID-19 in your local community via the following HKPR resources:
If you have questions about COVID-19, you can contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or email at email@example.com