4 ways to minimize COVID-19 workplace spread
COVID-19 workplace spread
With Ontario in the middle of a third wave, how do employers minimize the spread of COVID-19 at workplaces? Well, you’ve guessed it right. That is a question in every employer’s mind today.
Here are the 4 effective ways to minimize COVID-19 workplace spread:
- Ensure your OHS program reflects your COVID-19 efforts
- Have more certified Joint Health and Safety Committee members
- Don’t forget to communicate regularly with your employees
- Strategize task management to reduce COVID-19 workplace spread
Before understanding the above 4 ways to minimize the workplace spread of COVID-19, let’s first understand the role of an employer and supervisor at a workplace.
In Ontario, employers have the following responsibilities as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA):
- Ensure they keep the workplace safe and well-maintained
- Take all reasonable precautions to protect their employees from illness and/or injury
- Make sure that they provide their employees with updated information on workplace hazards, personal protective equipment, required training, and ensure competent supervision at work
- Post the Occupational Health & Safety Act at the workplace at a place where it is easily available for everyone to access
- With 20 or more employees, employers need to ensure they have a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) comprising at least one (1) certified worker representative and one (1) certified manager representative.
- With 5-19 employees, employers need to have a health and safety representative appointed
Supervisors also have the following responsibilities at their workplace as per the OHSA:
- Ensure that they provide a safe workplace and assign safe work
- Take all reasonable precautions to protect the employees from illness and/or injury
- Inform their employees about the various job hazards and train them to perform their respective tasks in their job safely
- Ensure that they supervise the employees’ work safely, and that equipment & protective devices are used properly, where required
In Ontario, just like in the whole world, COVID-19 has emerged as one of the most dangerous workplace hazards. Therefore, it is clear that both the employers and supervisors have the responsibility to keep their employees safe at work.
Here are 4 ways to minimize COVID-19 workplace spread:
Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) is the backbone of your health and safety program. Therefore, when you identify all your actual & potential hazards, you must ensure that you identify COVID-19 as a hazard as well as part of your JHA.
Just making the required changes to your JHA is not good enough. In fact, you must also communicate the changes to your JHA with your staff and get their acknowledgement. What’s more, once you identify COVID-19 as part of your JHA, you will be easily able to create the policies and procedures, training, PPE, etc. since they will flow from your JHA. Thus, your COVID-19 efforts will be part of your overall health and safety program.
It’s important that employers have a plan for how they will protect their employees against COVID-19 workplace transmission. In Ontario, most businesses with 20 or more employees are required by law to have a joint health and safety committee (JHSC). The JHSC must have at least one (1) worker rep and one (1) manager rep who are certified members of the committee.
Certified JHSC members play a crucial role in developing a robust health and safety program, which during COVID-19, is the most effective way to mitigate workplace transmission. Therefore, it is highly recommended to have more employees trained and certified as part of your JHSC.
CLICK HERE to book your JHSC Online Training Bundle.
Communication is the way forward, especially during the pandemic. Having ongoing communication between the employer and employees holds the key. In fact, it is a good way to reassure your employees and show them your commitment to keep them safe at work. Also, communication helps in warding off rumors pertaining to COVID-19 and workplace safety. Encourage your managers to have periodic meetings with their respective teams to understand their state of mind and how they are coping with the pandemic.
It is crucial for you as an employer to identify how you are modifying all the required tasks to protect workers from possible exposures. Identify how your staff will perform the work. Whether they will work from home or work in shifts, if you are an essential service.
Include policies for social distancing and personal hygiene as part of your health and safety program. Clearly identify and communicate your policies with regards to staggered breaks and shifts, site movement, and total number of workers onsite. Furthermore, identify all the recommended and required PPE & other controls for minimizing COVID-19 spread at your workplace. Moreover, identify and communicate your sanitation protocols for washrooms, lunchroom, and common touched surfaces. This is crucial in building confidence among your staff for a safe work environment.
Clearly identify the reporting structure for illness and concerns pertaining to COVID-19 and communicate that with your staff. Also, have a well-defined program for rolling out awareness based training specific for your industry.
Require more information or support with your occupational health and safety program, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.