Workplace Guidance For Business Owners

Covid-19 Information

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Overview
This document has been developed to support all business and sectors (excluding health care settings) in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 among workers, volunteers and patrons. This document outlines the criteria that should be addressed in individual, written workplace policies and procedures established to address the COVID-19 pandemic response. All workplaces are expected to develop and implement these policies and procedures prior to re-opening or continuing operations after May 1, 2020. Industries or business with specialized operations or aspects may be subject to additional guidance. Any additional guidance made available is intended to augment this document.

The guidance in this document includes:

  1. Communication related to COVID-19
  2. Sick staff and volunteers
    a.) Employee or volunteer NOT diagnosed with COVID-19
    b.) Employee or volunteer diagnosed with COVID-19
  3. Prevention
    a.) Screening
    b.) Hygiene
    c.) Cleaning and disinfecting
    d.) Personal Protective Equipment
    e.) Workplace bathrooms and showers
    f.) Distancing & gatherings in the workplace
    g.) Retail Items
    h.) Home Delivery, Drive through, Take-out and Curbside Pick-up
  4. Appendix A: Information on Isolation and Quarantine
  5. Appendix B: COVID-19 Plan for Large Production Facilities

As the COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation, this document and the guidance within are subject to change and will be updated as appropriate.

This information is not intended to exempt employers from existing occupational health and safety (OHS) requirements. OHS questions and concerns can be directed to the OHS Contact Centre by telephone at 1-866-415-8690 (in Alberta) or 780-415-8690 (in Edmonton) or online.

Communication related to COVID-19

• Encourage staff and volunteers to remain up to date with developments related to COVID-19.

• Remind employees about available social and mental health supports during this stressful time, and encourage them to use these resources.

• Notify employees and volunteers and patrons of the steps being taken by the workplace to prevent the risk of transmission of infection, and the importance of their roles in these measures. These notifications should also include:
– how workers and volunteers can mitigate risks when commuting to and from work (e.g., carpooling, public transit, chartered buses)
– how workers and volunteers can mitigate risks of transmission in homes and shared living accommodations
– how workers and volunteers can mitigate risks when engaging in other activities outside of work, including at secondary job locations
– how patrons can mitigate risks when conducting business in store

• Post this information in areas where employees and volunteers can refer to them. – “Help prevent the spread” posters are available.
– When possible, provide necessary information in languages that are preferred by staff and volunteers.

• Prepare for increases in absenteeism due to illness among staff, volunteers and their families.

• Ensure employees and patrons are aware that Order 05-2020 requires individuals who have returned from travel outside of Canada to be in isolation for a minimum of 14 days.
– If an individual becomes sick during the 14-day isolation period, they should remain in isolation for an additional ten days from the start of symptoms, or until the symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
– All non-essential travel outside Canada should be cancelled, as per the Government of Canada’s travel advisory.

Sick staff and volunteers

• Encourage employees with symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat symptoms to complete the self assessment and get tested for COVID-19.

• Order 05-2020 legally obligates individuals who have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat (that is not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition) to be in isolation for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.
– These requirements must be followed regardless of whether or not the individual has been tested for COVID-19.

• If an employee or volunteer does come to work sick, or becomes sick while at work, the following requirements apply:
– Employees, volunteers or patrons who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to the workplace, or become sick while at the workplace, should begin isolation at home immediately.
– After being directed to leave the business, symptomatic employees should follow hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and maintain at least 2 meters of distance from other employees, volunteers and patrons.
– Arrangements should be made by the employer for transportation home where needed; public transportation like buses, taxis or ride sharing should be avoided.
– Once a sick individual has left the workplace, clean and disinfect all surfaces and areas with which they may have come into contact.
– The employer should immediately consider and record the names of all close contacts of the sick worker has been in contact with that day and in the 48 hours prior to when the symptoms started in the case. This information may be necessary if the sick worker later tests positive for COVID-19.

• More information on isolation and quarantine can be found in Appendix A

Employee or volunteer diagnosed with COVID-19

• Order 05-2020 legally requires individuals to be in isolation for a minimum of 10 days if they have tested positive for COVID-19.
– For clarity, the isolation period is 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.

• If an employee or volunteer is confirmed to have COVID-19, and it is determined that other people may have been exposed to that person, Alberta Health Services (AHS) may be in contact with the business to provide the necessary public health guidance. Records may be sought up to two-weeks prior to the individual becoming ill.
– Employers should work cooperatively with AHS to ensure those potentially exposed to the individual receive the correct guidance.

Prevention

• All businesses should:
– Prevent the risk of transmission of infection amongst workers, volunteers or (as applicable) patrons;
– Provide for rapid response if a worker, volunteer or member of the public develops symptoms of illness while at the place of business; and
– Maintain high levels of hygiene.

• Conduct hazard assessments on all tasks performed in the business. Consider business closure or suspension of specific tasks where the risk of transmission of infection to staff, volunteers and patrons cannot be mitigated.

Screening

• Employers should implement active daily screening of staff, volunteers and patrons for symptoms of fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose or difficulty breathing.

• Emphasize that anyone who is sick with cold-like symptoms such as cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath, MUST NOT be in the workplace.
– Patrons with these symptoms should not be allowed in the workplace and should be advised to return home.
– Employers are encouraged to examine sick-leave policies to ensure they align with public health guidance. There should be no disincentive for staff or volunteers to stay home while sick or isolating.
– Changes to the Employment Standards Code will allow full and part-time employees to take 14 days of job-protected leave if they are:
• required to isolate
• caring for a child or dependent adult who is required to isolate.
– Employees are not required to have a medical note.

• To enable quick contact with employees, employers should maintain an up-to-date contact list for all staff and volunteers, including names, addresses and phone numbers.

• For the purposes of tracing close contacts, employers should be able to indicate
– roles and positions of persons working in the workplace
– who was working onsite at any given time
– who an employee may have worked with on any given shift.

• If a workplace has patrons within 2 metres of employees, then lists of patrons by time and date should also be kept.

Hygiene

• Employers and businesses should promote and facilitate frequent and proper hand hygiene for employees, volunteers and patrons.
– It is strongly encouraged that businesses provide a means to sanitize hands at points of entry to the business and at other locations in a business where patrons and staff are known to handle goods.

• Employers should instruct staff and volunteers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (greater than 60% alcohol content).
– Hand washing with soap and water is required if the employee or volunteer has visibly dirty hands.
– The AHS Hand hygiene education webpage has more information, posters and videos about hand hygiene.
– Glove use alone is not a substitute for hand hygiene. Hands should be cleaned before and after using gloves.

• Employers should make every effort to encourage respiratory etiquette (e.g., coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow, promptly disposing of used tissues in the trash) is followed.

• The use of posters that remind staff, volunteers and patrons to practice respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene is strongly encouraged in work areas where they are easily seen (e.g., entrances, washrooms and staff rooms).
– Posters are available here.

Cleaning and disinfecting

• Cleaning refers to the removal of visible soil. Cleaning does not kill germs but is highly effective at removing them from a surface. Disinfecting refers to using a chemical to kill germs on a surface. Disinfecting is only effective after surfaces have been cleaned.
– Use a “wipe-twice” method to clean and disinfect. Wipe surfaces with a cleaning agent to clean off soil and wipe again with a disinfectant.

• Develop and implement procedures for increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of high traffic areas, common areas, public washrooms and showering facilities.

• Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch/shared surfaces such as:
– Doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, faucets and taps, elevator buttons, railings
– Phones, computers, remote controls, keyboards, desktops, conference room equipment, cash registers, surface counters, customer service counters, menus
– Equipment handles, hand tools, machinery control panels, seat belt buckles, joysticks, steering wheels and controls on powered mobile equipment
– Staff rooms, kitchens, washrooms

• Regular household cleaning and disinfecting products are effective against COVID-19 when used according to the directions on the label.
– Use a disinfectant that has a Drug Identification Number (DIN) and a virucidal claim (efficacy against viruses).
– Alternatively, use a bleach-water solution with 100 ml of bleach to 900 ml water.
– Health Canada has approved several hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers for use against COVID-19. Use these lists to look up the DIN number of the product you are using or to find an approved product.
– Make sure to follow instructions on the product label to disinfect effectively

• Disposable towels and spray cleaners, or disposable wipes, should be available to staff, volunteers and (as necessary) patrons to regularly clean commonly used surfaces.

• Remove all communal items that cannot be easily cleaned, such as newspapers, magazines, and stuffed toys.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

• Business owners should conduct hazard assessments to identify existing and potential hazards related to COVID-19. Where elimination of these hazards is not possible or reasonable, they should be controlled.

• PPE is based on risk of exposure to a pathogen that considers both the risk associated with a specific task/activity as well as the source of infection (e.g. ill person). PPE that is chosen should be appropriate to the hazard

• When hazards related to COVID-19 cannot be completely eliminated, the following hierarchy of controls are required:
– First choice: Engineering controls
These control the hazard at the source. Examples include placing barriers or partitions between staff, removing seats from lunch rooms and dining areas, re-arranging lockers, restricting general access to the business and increasing ventilation.
– Second choice: Administrative controls
These controls change the way workers, volunteer and patrons interact. Examples include policies for physical distancing, limiting hours of operations and respiratory etiquette and providing adequate facilities, supplies and reminders for hand hygiene. Increased frequency of cleaning as outlined above is also required.
– Third choice: PPE
PPE is necessary when physical distancing of 2 metres or physical barriers cannot be maintained by administrative and engineering controls. PPE controls the hazard at the worker, volunteer and client level. Examples of PPE include gloves, eye protection, gown, face protections, procedure/surgical masks or NIOSH-N95 masks1.

When a hazard cannot be controlled by a single control method, the business owner should utilize a combination of these controls to provide an acceptable level of safety.

• PPE should be stored, used and maintained as per the manufacturer’s instruction for use, so it can perform its intended function to protect staff and volunteers.

• If a hazard assessment determines that PPE is necessary, the business owner should ensure that the PPE fits the workers and volunteers effectively.
– If a mask is deemed necessary, surgical and non-surgical masks are most often sufficient.
– Respirators (e.g. N95 masks) are only required when the work might cause large droplets containing COVID-19 to be aerosolized into tiny airborne particles1. This is not common in a majority of business settings.
– Resources are available to assist in developing codes of practice for the use of respirators. A code of practice sets out information on the selection, maintenance and use of respiratory protective equipment.

• PPE should be discarded in a lined garbage bag in between clients.

• PPE, such as eye protection, may be reused by the same user, only if the manufacturer allows it and has provided clear cleaning and disinfecting instructions.
– Assign a user’s name and store separately from other PPE, after cleaning and disinfecting.

Workplace bathrooms and showers

• Maintain bathrooms and showers and any associated amenities in a clean and sanitary condition. The frequency of cleaning and disinfection will vary depending on usage.
– Use a “wipe-twice” method to clean and disinfect high-touch shower surfaces such as faucets, door handles, soap and shampoo dispensers and towel bars. Wipe these kinds of surfaces with a cleaning agent to clean off soil and wipe again with a disinfectant.

• Consider physical distancing of users in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Distancing can be facilitated by the use of partitioned stalls, decommissioning toilets or urinals that are less than 2 metres apart or staggering entry into locker rooms and showers so that fewer users are present at a time.
– As the virus spreads in large droplets, it will fall to the ground once a shower is complete, presenting minimal risk to the next user.

• Post signage in bathrooms and shower areas that informs users of how to mitigate risks of COVID-19 transmission (E.g., hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette).

• Where necessary, maintain an adequate supply of soap, paper towel, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other supplies.

Distancing & gatherings in the workplace

• Order 07-2020 prohibits gatherings of more than 15 people, however this does not prohibit businesses from having more than 15 workers in a workplace.

• Examples of how to support distancing between employee, volunteers and patrons to reduce the risk of transmission amongst workers, volunteers and patrons include:
– Maintaining a 2 metre separation between individuals (e.g., workers, volunteers, patrons) is preferred in any business.
– Restricting the number of employees, volunteers and patrons in a business at any one time.
– Installing a physical barrier, such as a cubicle, partition or window, to separate workers, volunteers and patrons.
– Increasing separation between desks and workstations.
– Eliminating or re-structuring of non-essential gatherings (e.g. meetings, training classes) of staff, patrons and volunteers. Typically, this involves moving in-person meetings to virtual media platforms like teleconference or video conference.
– Limiting the number of people in shared spaces (such as lunchrooms) or staggering break periods. Removing chairs form spaces and taping markers at 6-foot distances may be helpful in preventing crowds.
– Limiting hours of operation or setting specific hours for at-risk patrons. – Implementing contact-free modes of patron interaction such as home-delivery of goods or curb-side pickup of items.
– Placement of reference markers (e.g., markings on the floor in grocery line-ups) that set out two-meter distances.

Retail Items

• Develop strategies to minimize the handling of retail objects before purchase.
– Businesses should minimize the risk of ‘trying-on’ of garments by encouraging customers to sanitize hands before trying on clothes. Surfaces in changerooms should be cleaned and disinfected after use.

• Update return policies to prevent the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to workers, volunteers and patrons. This may include:
– Eliminating the opportunity to return purchased goods (i.e. Final sale only)
– Cleaning and disinfecting hard-surfaced, returned good prior to placing them back onto the sales floor; and
– Storing soft-surface items for a period of 24 hours prior to resale.

Home Delivery, Drive through, Take-out and Curbside Pick-up

• Any business still permitted to operate is allowed to sell their goods via delivery, drive-thru, take-out and curbside pick- up.

• Interactions between workers, volunteers and patrons that occur via delivery, drive-thru, take-out and curbside pick-up are intended to be completed as immediately as possible and with minimal to no interaction at a distance of less than 2 meters.

• For the purposes of conducting important duties (e.g., filling orders, counting inventory), staff and volunteers may continue to work within a business that has been otherwise ordered to restrict public access.

• Owners of businesses that offer delivery or onsite pick-up of goods to patrons should conduct a hazard assessment and mitigate any new risks including those related to traffic and the transmission of infection to workers, volunteers and patrons.
– At this time it is understood that the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to patrons who pick-up goods, or have them delivered, is minimal so long as workers and volunteers are mitigating risks in the workplace (e.g., performing hand hygiene, not letting sick workers be in the workplace, conducting surface cleaning and disinfection) and during delivery.

• Owners should ensure that workers and volunteers follow requirements for hand hygiene when handling or delivering goods.

• It is strongly recommended that businesses offering delivery and curbside pick up remind patrons to observe physical distancing while collecting goods and to perform hand hygiene after handling goods.

Resources

Government of Alberta (Alberta Health)COVID-19 Information for Albertans
Alberta Health ServicesCOVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool
Government of CanadaCoronavirus disease (COVID-19)


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