COVID-19: Safe return to work guidelines

Some companies are slowly returning to work with the gradual deconfinement plan in Canada. Now more than ever, employers must take into account and incorporate a series of measures and precautions to ensure the safety of their employees and prevent the spread of COVID-19

Before implementing preventive measures, the employer must carry out an assessment of the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. To do this, a visit to the workplace is recommended to identify possible dangers and tasks that could increase the risk of workers being exposed to the virus.

Once the risks have been identified, if the employer is able to ensure the safety of his employees and control the risk of exposure to the virus, he will have to put in place the necessary preventive measures.

The decisions made by the employer must comply with governmental recommendations regarding public health as well as the company’s policies on health and safety at work.

What preventive measures can companies put in place for a safe return to work?

Encourage physical distance

A minimum distance of 2 meters must be established between employees in the workplace. Social distancing must be respected at all times, on arrival, during breaks as well as when leaving the office. Physical contact (handshakes, etc.) should be avoided.

Companies must put in place several adaptive measures in order to reduce the risk of transmission as much as possible if the minimum social distance cannot be respected. Here are some examples of adaptive measures:

  • The incorporation of telework
  • The use of transparent physical barriers
  • Modifying the work organization (e.g., working in smaller teams, avoiding face-to-face meetings, etc.)
  • Providing the necessary personal protective equipment for workers according to the work environment (gloves, respiratory protection, protective glasses, etc.)

Ensure the exclusion of symptomatic people from the workplace

In order to ensure safety at work in the context of COVID-19, employees with symptoms should not come to work. As an employer, you need to make sure you have measures in place to identify workers who may have COVID-19 symptoms before they start work.

To help you, Mobile-Punch has created a mandatory health questionnaire to be completed each morning by your workers. This function is available in our application and allows employees to complete the questionnaire directly on their mobile devices. With this function, our company helps the CNESST to collect data on the state of the health of thousands of employees throughout the territory in real time.

If a worker begins to experience symptoms in the workplace, be sure to call 1 877 644-4545.

Establish hygiene measures for work surfaces and equipment

Since COVID-19 can survive on work surfaces and tools, the implementation of strict hygiene measures is essential. In order to ensure the health of workers and reduce the risk of the virus spreading, CNESST recommends that companies:

  • Disinfect sanitary facilities daily and clean them after each shift (or more frequently if possible)
  • Disinfect lunch areas daily and clean them after each meal
  • Check the condition of the ventilation systems and ensure their proper maintenance
  • Clean and disinfect work equipment and tools after each shift
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces (tables, counters, faucets, toilets, etc.) at least after each shift
  • Eliminate objects that are not necessary (newspapers, magazines, etc.)
  • Use disinfectant and cleaning products recommended by the Government of Canada

For more information on these measures, please consult the CNESST guide

Ensure frequent hand-washing

You need to make sure your employees wash their hands frequently. To do this, regularly check to see if you have enough hand soap or disinfectant. It is important to make hygiene products available to your employees.

You can also put up posters in the bathroom and in the office to share essential information. Workers should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and do it especially:

  • Before touching their face
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • After blowing their nose
  • After touching a frequently touched surface (door handle, etc.)
  • Before and after eating

Reorganize work

If you are unable to telecommute, you will need to adapt and reorganize work. To do this, here are some recommendations:

  • Limit or cancel nonessential trips
  • Limit the number of people during meetings. It is best to encourage virtual meetings, but if this is not possible social distancing must be respected.
  • Ask workers to clean their desks or work tools before and after their shift
  • Regularly disinfect tools and sharing between employees

Establish appropriate policies

Companies must put in place adequate policies and practices to:

  • Ensure that all employees are informed of the policies and measures related to COVID-19. They must educate workers about the risk factors associated with the virus and explain protective measures (personal protective equipment, instructions for hand-washing, instructions for cleaning surfaces, etc.)
  • Minimize nonessential trips to the workplace
  • Update policies and ensure compliance
  • Contact their stakeholders (supplier, owner, etc.) to find out the measures they have implemented
  • Respond to workers’ concerns on any topic related to workplace safety and health

Need a tool to monitor the health status of your workers?

The Mobile-Punch app is an essential tool for hundreds of companies to track the health of their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, it allows companies to optimize time management, calculate working hours precisely, geolocate staff in real time and much more.

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