Employers have an obligation to provide a safe work environment free from dangers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. As the city of Toronto seeks to improve transparency amid continued rise in infections and strives to curb the community transmission of Covid-19 cases, it introduced new health and safety measures for workplaces.
In order to reduce the spread of Covid-19, employers are required to abide by the applicable Provincial legislations and follow the additional measures set out in Letter of Instructions to all employers issued by Toronto Public Health (TPH) on January 4, 2021. Where there is “sustained transmission” and “the workplace is large enough that the risks of privacy concerns are mitigated”, TPH will now public identify the location of outbreaks in workplaces on a weekly basis.
Measures to be Implemented to Reduce the Spread of Covid-19
These measures are designed to prevent the outbreak of Covid-19 cases in workplaces. All the essential workplaces continuing to operate amid the provincial lockdown are asked to follow them.
The measures issued by TPH involves three aspects, which are as follows:
a) Immediate Notification to TPH
- Employers should immediately notify TPH as soon as they are aware of two or more people who test positive for Covid-19 at your workplace during the 14-day period.
- Employers must designate a contact person to communicate with TPH effectively and ensure that accurate contact information for all workers is produced to TPH within 24 hours of request. They must cooperate with TPH personnel and facilitate their entry to the workplace for inspection.
b) Infection Prevention Measures
- Employers should implement rigorous and frequent environmental cleaning in all high-touch areas and ensure hand sanitizer and hand-washing facilities are provided in work.
- Employers should also conduct regular review of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to ensure that they are functioning well.
- Employers should minimize instances of more than one individual in a vehicle for driving associated with work.
- Employers should ensure that physical distancing of at least two (2) metres takes place at work and implement physical barriers.
c) Supports for Workers
- Employers should ensure that all employees are fully aware of income replacement and workplace related benefits in order to encourage reporting of Covid-19 symptoms or contact among employees.
What to do if an Employee has Covid-19
TPH has also issued a workplace checklist on the essential steps to follow if someone in the workplace has Covid-19. Employers are advised to follow these recommendations so as to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace.
1. Create a safety plan;
2. Screen staff and keep attendance;
3. Send staff home if they are sick at work;
4. Confirm the employee is self-isolating at home;
5. Confirm when the employee’s symptoms started;
6. Identify close contacts of the contagious employees;
7. Maintain a daily log to support contact tracing;
8. Inform Toronto Public Health of 2 or more cases at the workplace within a 14-day period;
9. Clean and disinfect surfaces;
Employment issues in relation to the workplace safety during the Covid-19 can be quite complicated. It is advisable to seek professional help from an experienced employment lawyer. If you are experiencing any employment law issues due to the Covid-19, Top Toronto employment lawyer, Stacey Ball can help you determine your legal options. Please call us at 416-921-7997, extension 227.