Infection control recommendations when reopening
In light of the province’s position to begin re-opening business, the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) requires all businesses to incorporate the minimum infection control practices into their service delivery and work processes. Many of these practices can be found under the provincial health and safety guidance documents specific to business sectors and business settings found at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/resources-prevent-covid-19-workplace
In review of the provincial guidelines, the HNHU further encourages the following general recommendations be applied by the public and businesses to prevent or mitigate COVID-19 infection. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list of requirements as each task requires its own assessment and plan to address infection control against communicable diseases and other hazards.
Screen patrons and staff for illness
- Post signage (i.e. passive screening) at public and staff entrances
- Ensure all staff and contractors are actively screened daily
- Ensure patrons attending high risk settings (e.g. Long-term care homes, congregate settings) are actively screened
Continue to practice and ensure physical and social distancing
- Place signage and markers to notify patrons of physical distancing requirements.
- Arrange furniture and other items used by patrons and staff more than 6 feet apart.
- Set occupancy limits in indoor areas accessible to the public. Occupancy limits can be set by calculating the total useable floor space for patrons (e.g. subtract areas taken up by counters, seating, etc) and divide by 144 square feet. Small areas such as elevators should be considered.
- Continue to limit or reduce workspace occupancy through work from home, work schedules and break schedule adjustments where possible.
- Cohort staff where possible to limit impact of potential workplace outbreak on continuity of operations.
- Avoid carpooling. Where sharing vehicles is required, passengers should sit in back seats (if available). Commuters should wear masks and open windows if possible.
Provide easy access to handwashing or hand sanitizer (alcohol based hand rub)
- Position handwashing or hand sanitizer stations in public and staff areas
- Post signage to encourage handwashing before and after using shared items
Enhance environmental cleaning
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces such as door knobs/handles, counters, phones, keypads, railings, faucets, toilets, steering wheels and other shared items frequently. Surfaces should be immediately cleaned following spills or where someone displays respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough or sneeze) in the area. Discard items that cannot be properly cleaned or disinfected (e.g. some food items) after becoming contaminated.
- Ensure workspaces receive complete cleaning before or after a work shift.
- Disinfectants used in public settings should have a DIN and virucidal claim
- Ensure staff are trained in proper use of cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. contact times, if PPE needs to be worn)
Provide personal protective equipment and physical barriers where applicable
- Where persons cannot maintain physical distancing, install barriers (e.g. plexiglass at customer service counters) or provide appropriate PPE.
- Appropriate PPE should be determined based on the task being completed. We have included a chart showing an example of what type of mask is appropriate for different situations as well as other common PPE
- Ensure staff are trained as to how to don (i.e. put on) and doff (i.e. take off) PPE
Provide alternative service delivery where possible
- Avoid cash transactions. Debit or credit using ‘tap’ option is preferred.
- Provide services on-line or other methods (e.g. pick up) limiting interactions amongst people
- Consider extending business hours if it reduces surges in patrons attending workplace.
- Do not offer refunds where products sold cannot be cleaned and disinfected following their return. Similarly, clothing or other items should not be tried on and returned to sale unless cleaned after use.
- Hold meetings online or via teleconference.
- Where possible, increase the ventilation system’s air intake or open doors and windows. Avoid central recirculation where possible.
- Similarly, open windows when in vehicles with others where possible.
Keep staff up-to-date on the evolving situation and applicable health and safety issues
- Ensure staff know how to report an illness in a timely manner and take action to protect themselves and others when at work
- Review signs, symptoms and methods of transmission of COVID-19
- Ensure staff know when and how to self-isolate should it be required
As with all workplaces, the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be applied. Safety is everyone’s responsibility under the act and thus all staff should assess and plan to address their tasks with infection control in mind. Application of R.A.C.E. is recommended:
R – recognize the hazard
A – assess the risk associated with the hazard
C – control the risk associated with the hazard (e.g. Hierarchy of Controls)
E – evaluate the controls
Please be advised, the HNHU is not responsible to address health and safety complaints issued by employees against their employers. Employees and employers seeking further direction on occupational health and safety measures should consult the Ministry of Labour.