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COVID-19: Workplace Safety Guidelines for Employers


The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be passing. Provinces across Canada are now taking steps to restart their economies.

As you prepare to reopen your business, make sure your workplace is safe for your employees. Put physical distancing and other health and safety measures in place before you recall your staff. As per the Canada Labour Code, your employees can refuse to work in a place that poses a risk to their health and safety.

What should employers do to ensure workplace safety?

You should follow all government directives that apply to your industry. The Ontario government has issued over 90 safety guidance documents to help employers across sectors make workplaces safe.

British Columbia and Alberta, too, have laid down workplace safety rules for different industries to follow.

You should consider:

  • Practicing physical distancing in the workplace. Follow measures such as increasing distance between desks and people in queues. You could also use physical barriers like Plexiglas windows.
  • Recalling only workers critical to daily operations if it is not safe to bring back your entire staff at once. You could also stagger shifts and lunch breaks or consider recalling workers on a rotational basis.
  • Implementing a regular cleaning schedule. Make sure all communal surfaces (tabletops, door handles, light switches, etc.) are sanitized daily. Make cleaning supplies available to your staff so that they can clean and disinfect their workstations.
  • Providing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks and disposable gloves, to your staff. Also, train your staff on the proper use of such PPE. Educate them on respiratory etiquette, such as coughing or sneezing into one’s arm or a tissue, and other good hygiene practices.
  • Ensuring your bathrooms are cleaned daily and well stocked with liquid soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer.
What if an employee at work shows symptoms of COVID-19?

You should direct your employees to self-report if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. Your employee should also inform you if they have been in close contact with anyone who is exhibiting symptoms or is suspected to have COVID-19.

If your employee exhibits symptoms while at work (for example, coughing, fatigue), consider placing them on temporary medical leave. Your employee should be on leave till they get medical clearance from a physician to safely return to work.

Want to know your employer obligations surrounding COVID-19 health and safety?

Download our free resources on pandemic HR advice for business owners. For advice on health and safety policies during the pandemic, call our experts today: 1 (833) 247-3652