Keeping Workplaces Safe: Open Letter from Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum, Associate Medical Officer of Health
The Provincial government is taking additional measures to protect our communities and help limit the spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Locally, WDG Public Health is reaching out to all employers in Wellington County, Dufferin County and Guelph to emphasize the importance of the measures employers are responsible for implementing in the workplace under Provincial Regulations and local Section 22 Class Orders and Letters of Instruction. Some of the general measures required of all organizations and businesses are highlighted below along with other important measures to reduce COVID-19 risks in the workplace.
Keeping COVID-19 out of the workplace
Under Ontario Regulations, all employers are required to actively screen employees each day either online before going to work or on-site before starting the shift or workday. Employers are strongly advised to create policies that enable employees to stay home when they have any symptoms of illness, including mild symptoms that are not listed in the COVID-19 screening tool. Further, as per a recent provincial announcement, employers should make every effort to allow employees to work from home where possible. Public Health strongly encourages employers to consider work-from-home options for all appropriate employees, not just those who are experiencing symptoms.
Mask and face covering requirements
Masks and face coverings continue to play a critical role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The local Section 22 Face Coverings Order remains in place and requires all persons in any establishment, including workplaces, to wear a face covering. Face coverings are required at all times even if persons are able to maintain distancing and are fully vaccinated. Face coverings can be removed temporarily to eat or drink; however, workplaces must ensure employees are distanced when face coverings are removed to consume food or drink. For employees with mask exemptions, employers are advised to identify roles that ensure those individuals have limited interaction with the public and are able to maintain at least 2 metre distancing from other persons.
Workplace safety plans
As directed by the Province, businesses must prepare and make available a COVID-19 safety plan. A copy of the plan must be made available to any person for review upon request and be posted where it would come to the attention of individuals working in or attending the business.
For additional resources for workplaces, please visit: wdgpublichealth.ca/workplaces.
Businesses have played a key role keeping our community safe over the course of this pandemic. Your actions have protected the health, lives and livelihoods of your staff and patrons. Public Health is grateful to have our business community as a partner as our whole region tackles this global pandemic.
WDG Public Health is committed to ensuring that all members of our community have easy access to vaccine by offering drop-in appointments for first and second doses. Also, we hope that you will share with your employees that all persons aged 50 years and older are eligible to schedule booster dose appointments (appointments to be booked approximately 3 months after a second dose) through participating pharmacies, primary care providers and also WDG Public Health. As per today’s provincial announcement, individuals aged 18 years and older will become eligible to book booster dose appointments starting this Monday, December 20, 2021.
For updates related to booster dose eligibility, please visit: wdgpublichealth.ca/booster-dose.
Matthew Tenenbaum, MD, CCFP, MPH, FRCPC
Associate Medical Officer of Health