The COVID-19 pandemic constantly unravels within Canada and around the world. The most recent update within Ontario is the mandated provincewide lockdown that began on December 26th, 2020. This lockdown was stated to remain in effect for the entirety of Ontario until January 9th, 2021, except for 27 public health unit regions in Southern Ontario as listed by the Government of Ontario. These Southern regions were stated to remain in lockdown until January 23rd, 2021. Employers must consider next steps to be taken that consider both the provincewide Ontario lockdown & beyond.
When looking to reopen after the lockdown, employers should consider multiple factors that effect their employees, workplace and the general public who interact with the workplace. At all times, employers should ensure that they stay up to date with all current local and provincial guidance and legislation regarding COVID-19, that specifically impacts their workplace operations.
Employers should ensure a new risk assessment takes place after the lockdown to identify any new or worsened risks in the workplace in relation to COVID-19. These risks should be assessed regularly on how to best remove or limit the risks.
For the safety of employees and others, modifications to the workplace itself, policies and/or procedures may be necessary for protection against COVID-19 in the workplace. Employers should ensure that these modifications are made in a timely manner where needed. These modifications could include changes to safe work practices, personal protective equipment, administrative/engineering controls, etc. Some safety modifications to the workplace could include:
- Increased physical barriers
- More employees working from home
- Limited public access to building
- Increased hand sanitization locations