Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island

COVID-19: Workplace Health and Safety Information

March 22, 2020

The following provides workplace health and safety information for Island workers and employers during COVID-19. Please check here frequently for updated information.


The Workers Compensation Board (WCB) urges all employers and workers to follow the recommendations of the PEI Chief Public Health Office during the COVID-19 crisis.  

 

 

As an employer, what are my occupational health and safety (OHS) responsibilities related to COVID-19?

 

The OHS Act sets out the obligation for employers to take every reasonable precaution to protect the occupational health and safety of persons at or near the workplace at all times. This means that employers must assess the risks of the workplace and take appropriate action to either eliminate or, if that is not possible, minimize those risks.

 

If it is necessary for workers to come to work, employers are required to ensure that the adequate precautions are in place to minimize exposure to COVID-19: These include, but are not limited to:

  • Enhancing cleaning and sanitizing efforts.
  • Ensuring that workers are aware of their safety rights and responsibilities.
  • Providing appropriate protective devices and equipment based on the nature of the work.
  • Putting social distancing and other preventative measures in place.
    • If possible, reconfiguring the workplace to maintain appropriate distance between workers
    • Providing workers with working from home options, where possible.
  • Eliminating work travel except for travel that is required to provide essential services.
  • Employers must be aware of their work refusal obligations and ensure such refusals are appropriately handled.

 

When should workers stay home from work?

 

Workers experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 at work should go home immediately.

 

Employers should ensure that the following workers do not come to work:

  • Workers who are ill or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, whether or not the illness has been confirmed as COVID-19.
  • Workers who are required to self-isolate due to recent out of province travel.
  • Workers who have had close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19 or someone with symptoms who has recently returned to PEI.
  • Any worker who is required to self-isolate as recommended by the Chief Public Health Office.

 

 

As a worker, what can I do to protect myself from getting COVID-19 if I have to go to work?


As a worker, you have responsibilities to protect yourself as well as others. Workers should:

  • Monitor and follow the recommendations of the Chief Public Health Office.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not possible.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Adopt social distancing techniques.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
    • Workers providing essential services, including health care, must use the appropriate personal protective equipment and protocols and take steps to minimize exposure to COVID-19 while away from work.
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve and not your hands.
  • Know when to stay home. Workers should follow the Chief Public Health Office recommendations for self- isolation.
  • Comply with the employer’s instructions around minimizing exposure to COVID-19.

 

Can a worker refuse work due to a COVID-19 concern?

 

When addressing a work refusal related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to recognize that every refusal is assessed based on circumstances specific to the worker and their workplace.

A worker can refuse work if a reasonable assessment of the risk suggests there is an immediate or imminent threat to their safety. A pandemic alone is not enough reason to refuse work. Further information on Refusal to Work can be found here.

 

 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

 

People with COVID-19 may have little to no symptoms, and may not realize they have been infected, as the symptoms resemble those from a cold or flu. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19 and may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty Breathing

 

What should I do if I develop symptoms?

 

Employers and workers experiencing symptoms (cough, fever, or difficulty breathing), should call 8-1-1 to be screened and, if necessary, directed for testing. Visit the Chief Public Health Office website for up to date information.

 

 

For more information about COVID-19, refer to:

 

For more information about workplace safety, contact WCB Occupational Health and Safety at 902-368-5680 or ohs@wcb.pe.ca. The Occupational Health & Safety 24hr Emergency Line is 902-628-7513.

 



Media Contact:
Laura Steeves, Senior Communications Coordinator
902-894-0362 or lsteeves@wcb.pe.ca