Workplace Safety During Covid-19

Employers have a duty to keep their workers and workplaces safe, and workers have a right to refuse unsafe work. Companies must take reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of their workers, including protecting workers from infectious diseases. So, the health and safety of workers is of even greater concern during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

For more information: The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development works closely with the Ministry of Health and Public Health Ontario providing support, advice and enforcement. Failure to comply with OHSA regulations could result in stop-work orders.

Workplace Safety During Covid-19

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) continues to oversee the requirements for employers for workplace safety. Under the Act, employers remain responsible to:

  • ensure workers know about hazards
  • ensure supervisors know requirements to protect worker health and safety 
  • create workplace health and safety P&Ps
  • ensure everyone in the workplace follow the law and health and safety P&Ps
  • ensure workers wear appropriate PPE and receive training on how to use it
  • take all reasonable precautions to protect workers from getting hurt or contracting COVID in the workplace

Assess the Workplace 

Employers must continually assess the workplace to determine the actions required to protect the health and safety of workers. During the COVID outbreak, these assessments should be even more frequent and thorough, considering the changing nature of the pandemic. Assess your workplace with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative as required.

  • Whenever possible, remote work should be offered to workers, so they can work more safely from home. 
  • Workers should follow standard published COVID procedures to clean and disinfect unless the employer requires even higher standards.
  • Everyone has a role in keeping workplaces safe and healthy 


What if there is concern about COVID-19 exposure at the workplace

If workers show symptoms of respiratory illness, then they should remain at home and contact:

  • Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000
  • Their health care provider
  • The local public health unit

Employers must take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of their workers and complete a risk assessment. Determine which workers had contact and in which areas exposure occurred.

Based on the risk assessment:

  • Send exposed coworkers home for 2 weeks, then direct them to self-isolate and self-monitor and report COVID symptoms. 
  • Shut down job sites while you disinfect the affected workplace areas and equipment.
  • If a worker was exposed in the workplace or a claim was filed with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), then the employer notifies the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development within 4 days, in writing.

So, keep up on the health and safety guidelines from the World Health Organization and follow the Government of Ontario’s specific regulations. We are all in this together; workers and employers need to work together during this global pandemic.