All businesses and organizations are currently required to have a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan in place. It should outline the specific controls that are (or will be) put into place to make the workplace safer for everyone. Visit COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan for information and a template.
Communicate clearly to employees that the following Infection Prevention and Control Measures (screening, hand washing, cough etiquette, environmental cleaning, and physical distancing) should be used together for optimal effectiveness in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
More details on these general measures can be found on the Stop the Spread page.
Businesses are encouraged to check the signage at entrances often to make sure they are the most current version. Please replace anything old with the latest signage. View the most up-to-date signage on the Printable Signage and Tools page.
Employers are required to actively screen employees, volunteers, students, suppliers, contract workers, and other essential visitors who enter for work purposes, to ensure that no person with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 comes into the facility. This involves collecting and reviewing information to determine whether a person may enter the workplace.
- Actively screen each person using the Ontario COVID-19 Worker and Employee Screening Tool (a PDF version of the screen is also available at this link).
- Active screening may be done in person at the workplace or remotely using telephone, internet (online), email submission or an app prior to entry.
- Screening should occur before or when the person arrives at the workplace at the beginning of their shift or visit.
- Remind staff that they should stay home if they are sick.
- Ensure that your organization’s screening protocol is clearly communicated. Combine screening procedures with other communication (i.e. OH&S updates, intranet, briefings at meetings, etc.)
- Post signage at all staff entrances reminding employees to be sure that they have completed the screening process before entering. Updated signage is available on the Workplace Printable Posters and Tools page.
- Anyone who does not pass the screening should be advised to:
- not enter the workplace, including those that are outdoors or partially outdoors;
- go home and self-isolate immediately; and
- contact their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 to find out if they need a COVID-19 test and for further instructions.
- Ensure screeners receive information and instruction on how to perform this work safely and what to do if a person must be excluded from the workplace.
- To screen patrons, businesses can use the Ontario COVID-19 Customer Screening Tool (a PDF version of the screen is also available at this link) and should continue to post patron screening signage at public entrances.
- In the Provincewide Shutdown, some businesses are required to screen patrons before they enter, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. For more details, see the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Shutdown website.
Businesses and organizations can adopt their own patron screening process as long as it meets the minimum requirements of Ontario Regulation 82/20 (Schedules 1-5), and/or other sector-specific guidelines. However, TBDHU encourages employers to consider the following when implementing patron screening procedures:
- Essential workers who travel outside of Northwestern Ontario or outside of Canada for work purposes should not be excluded entry on that basis alone.
- Health care workers may have contact with a positive case of COVID-19 in the course of their duties, however this should not be a reason for them to be denied access to a business. Front-line health care workers are highly trained professionals who wear appropriate personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe.
- Healthy household members of health care workers and of those who have traveled pose minimal risk to the public. Household members would have restrictions if:
- they are identified as a high-risk contact to a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. These individuals would be contacted by public health and instructed to self-isolate for a period of time.
- they are a close contact of a traveler who has returned to Northwestern Ontario who has/develops symptoms of COVID-19. Their household contacts must self-isolate even if they have no symptoms and have not traveled themselves.
- Otherwise, screening questions that ask about “household members” would be far-reaching.
If you have any questions or concerns about screening for COVID-19, call TBDHU at (807) 625-5900 or Toll-Free at 1-888-294-6630 or complete the Contact Us form.
Questions regarding COVID-19 health and safety measures for employees, including employee screening, can also be directed to the MLTSD Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate, a State of Emergency and Provincewide Stay-at-Home Order are in effect as of Thursday, April 8, at 12:01 a.m. This puts in place shutdown measures to help to stop the rapid transmission of COVID-19 variants in communities, protect hospital capacity and save lives. Visit the Current Level page for more details. The COVID-19 Response Framework (colour-coded zones) is paused at this time.
- At this time, employers shall ensure that any person who performs work for the business or organization conducts their work remotely, unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace.
- Everyone must be practicing physical distancing. Details on what physical distancing is and how to do it can be found on the Physical Distancing page.
- Where feasible, adjustments to policies and procedures may be put in place to reduce social contact, such as remote working arrangements, flexible hours, staggering start times, use of email and teleconferencing.
- Promote physical distancing in your workplace and post reminders in places where people may be closer than 2 metres together (e.g. active screening locations, line-ups, entrances and exits). Combine this with other communication (i.e. OH&S, intranet, briefings at meetings etc.).
- Investigate ways of using technology to limit the amount of face-to-face contact, for example video conferencing, to facilitate remote meetings.
- If possible, increase the spatial separation between desks and workstations as well as individuals (e.g. employees, customers) from each other. A 2 metre separation should be maintained, unless there is a physical barrier (e.g. cubicle wall, Plexiglas window).
- Limit the number of passengers allowed in elevators to the number that can maintain a distance of 2 metres (with a maximum of 3 people at one time).
- Avoid crowding in stairwells, hallways and other tight spaces.
- Schedule breaks at different times to avoid large groups.
- Tips, considerations and guidelines for holding meetings and events can be found on the Meetings & Events page.
- Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA)
- Advice for Hosts and Event Organizers (TBDHU)
- World Health Organization: Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 (PDF)
Printable Posters and Signage
- Physical Distancing Sign (General) (PDF)
- Distanciation physique (général) (PDF)
- Physical Distancing Sign (In Line) (PDF)
- Distanciation physique (en ligne) (PDF)
- Physical Distancing Sign (Picking Up Take Out) (PDF)
- Distanciation physique (ramassage à emporter) (PDF)
- Physical Distancing Sign (Elevators) (PDF)
- Distanciation physique (les ascenseurs) (PDF)
The Ontario Government currently mandates the use of masks/face coverings in the indoor premises of all businesses and organizations (including a business vehicle), with some exceptions. TBDHU’s Instruction Letter to Employers, Business Owners and Operators for mandatory masks/face coverings also remains in effect. Where there are differences between the regulation and TBDHU’s instruction letter, whichever is the stricter expectation will be required. For details, visit the Mandatory Masks Directive for Businesses and Organizations page.
Maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from others is an important measure for reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, there may be circumstances where employees are unable to keep this safe distance during the course of their duties.
Current regulations require employees to wear a mask or face covering when they are working in an indoor area (including a business vehicle), unless they are exempt. Masks are not required for staff working in an area that is not accessible to the public and where a physical distance of 2 metres from every other person can be maintained at ALL times, regardless of the presence of a plexiglass or other barrier.
If, at any time, a worker is required to come within 2 metres of an unmasked person (ie. a patron, client, or coworker) the employee MUST wear a medical-grade mask and eye protection (PPE).
It is also now highly recommended that staff wear PPE at all times when they are within 2 metres of another person, or ensure there is a plexiglass (or other impermeable) barrier in place. This practice should be followed regardless of whether or not the other person is wearing a mask (even one of medical-grade).
If an employee does not wear PPE and is later deemed to be a close contact of a case of COVID-19, the ‘close contact’ exposure would be considered HIGH-RISK. Anyone with a HIGH-RISK exposure to COVID-19 is required to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms and even if they get tested and the result is negative.
*(Note that PPE requirements in healthcare organizations may differ and workers should follow the PPE directions of their employer)
Visit the Masks/Face Coverings page for more information on the proper use and care of masks.
- Promote frequent hand washing by employees, contractors and customers. Details on proper hand hygiene practices can be found on the Hand Hygiene page.
- Display posters promoting hand washing. Combine this with other communication (i.e. OH&S, intranet, briefings at meetings etc.).
- Provide access to hand washing facilities and place hand sanitizing dispensers in prominent locations throughout the workplace, if possible. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled.
- Avoid shaking hands with colleagues or clients. Use alternative greetings instead, such as a head nod or wave.
- Remind clients who are children to follow these recommendations and support them to do so.
- Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA)
Printable Posters and Signage
- General information on cough etiquette can be found on the Cover your Coughs and Sneezes page.
- Display posters promoting cough etiquette. Combine this with other communication (i.e. OH&S, intranet, briefings at meetings etc.).
- Consider providing additional tissues should someone develop respiratory symptoms. If symptoms develop, the person must immediately be separated from others, instructed on proper cough etiquette and sent home (not using public transit, if possible).
Printable Posters and Signage
- For detailed information on cleaning, see the Environmental Cleaning page and the TBDHU resource on Cleaning and Disinfection of Public Spaces.
- Workplaces should follow their organization specific cleaning protocols.
- Identify frequently touched surfaces that may need to be cleaned more often (e.g. doorknobs, handrails, light switches, touch screen surfaces, phones, elevator buttons, computers, desks, lunch tables, kitchens, washrooms, cash registers, seating areas, surface counters, customer service counters, bars, restaurant tables/menus, communal pens, etc.).
- It is also recommended that items be removed if they cannot easily be cleaned (e.g. newspapers, magazines, stuffed toys).
- All waste can go into regular garbage bins that are lined. Employees who handle waste should be careful not to touch any used tissues. They should wash their hands with soap and water immediately after emptying wastebaskets and garbage bins.
- In businesses where dishwashing occurs, normal dishwashing practices should continue to be followed. No special soap is needed.
- In businesses where laundering occurs, normal laundry practices should continue to be followed.
- Introduce more fresh air by increasing the ventilation system’s air intake or opening doors and windows. Avoid central recirculation where possible.
For information about vaccines for essential workers who cannot work from home, visit the Vaccine Eligibility page.