Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island

COVID-19 Toolkit

All Industries

The WCB PEI recognizes the importance of worker safety as businesses look to resume operations following COVID-19-related work stoppages or interruptions. The following provides employers with information and resources to assist them in ensuring the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 is minimized at their workplace. Note that this information and guidance represents the minimum requirements and you may identify additional risks and measures specific to your business. Please check here frequently for updated information.

Employers need to develop an operational plan that reduces the risk of exposure. During an OHS inspection we may ask employers about the steps they have taken to protect their workers, which may include asking the employer to provide a copy of the operational plan (COVID-19 Operational Plan Template) for review. You must ensure that workers understand the measures you are taking to reduce the risk as many will have concerns about returning to work. Involve them in the planning process as much as possible to ensure their concerns are heard and addressed.

CCOHS - Infectious Disease Outbreaks/Pandemic Resources
CCOHS - Pandemic Planning (Online Course)
PEI Public Health - COVID-19 Operational Plan Template

Preparing an operational plan to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure.


Step 1 – Assess the risk at your workplace
Employers must assess their workplaces in order to identify places where the risk of transmission is introduced. This process must involve frontline workers, supervisors, and joint health and safety committees and/or worker representatives. You should continue to assess the workplace after operations resume to ensure risks are identified and managed.

The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads in several ways, including through droplets when a person coughs or sneezes, or from touching a contaminated surface before touching the face. To understand the risk at your workplace, consider the following questions:

  • Where do people congregate, such as break rooms, production lines, or meeting rooms?
  • What job tasks or processes require workers to come into close proximity with one another or members of the public?
  • What materials are exchanged, such as money, credit cards, and paperwork?
  • What tools, machinery, and equipment do people come in contact with in the course of their work?
  • What surfaces are touched often, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, equipment, and shared tools?

Step 2 – Implement measures to reduce the risk
You must select and put measures in place to minimize the risk of transmission. Consider the hierarchy of controls chart when considering options for controlling the COVID-19 risk in your workplace.

Hierarchy of Controls for COVID-19 Prevention

Remove the Hazard
You can promote physical distancing by restructuring physical settings and responsibilities to adhere to the minimum two metre requirement (increase space between people or reduce the number of people within a space at a given time). In addition, wherever possible, give employees the option to work or access businesses and other settings from home.

Engineering Controls
Create physical barriers between people when physical distancing is not possible, or increase ventilation.

WorkSafe BC – Designing Effective COVID-19 Barriers

Administrative Controls
Redistribute responsibilities to reduce contact between people, using technology for communication.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Have workers wear medical PPE for health-care settings, when required, and non-medical cloth face coverings to protect others, where necessary.

PPE may include non-medical masks, goggles, face shields, gowns, disposable gloves etc. The type will depend on the exposure risks to workers. It is NOT necessary to wear a non-medical mask or respirator if you are well and not exhibiting any symptoms.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that workers are given instruction in the proper use and care of PPE. PPE must be fit tested and properly disposed of when finished.

CCOHS - How to fit and remove protective gloves
CCOHS - Personal Protective Equipment during a Pandemic
Government of Canada - How to safely use a non-medical mask or face covering
PEI Public Health - Using Non-Medical Masks


Step 3 – Develop Policies
Develop the necessary policies to manage your workplace, including policies around who can be at the workplace, how to address illness that arises at the workplace, and how workers can be kept safe in adjusted working conditions.
  • The Chief Public Health Officer has issued the following guidance around self-isolation, which must be reflected in your policies:
    • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat and painful swallowing, must self-isolate at home for a minimum of 14 days.
    • Anyone under the direction of the provincial health officer to self-isolate must follow those instructions.
    • Anyone who has arrived from outside of PEI, or who is a contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, must self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
  • Prohibit or limit visitors.
  • Have a plan around workers who may start to feel ill while at work, including who they should notify and how they will travel from the workplace to their home.
  • Will you have workers working alone to reduce the risk of transmission? If so, you need to have procedures for these workers to ensure they are safe.
  • If you will have workers working from home, you need to develop work from home procedures to ensure workers are working safely.


Step 4 – Develop communication plans and training
You must ensure that everyone entering the workplace, including workers from other employers, knows how to keep themselves safe while at your workplace.
  • Be sure everyone is trained on the measures you have put in place and the policies around staying home when sick.
  • Post signage, including occupancy limits and effective hygiene practices. Signage should also be posted at the main entrance indicating who is restricted from entering the premises (including visitors and workers with symptoms).
  • Ensure workers are adequately supervised to ensure they know what to do.

Step 5 – Monitor your workplace and update your plans as needed
Things may change as your business operates. If you identify a new area of concern, or if it seems like something isn’t working, take steps to update your policies and procedures. Involve workers in this process. Ensure that workers can raise safety concerns. This may be through a safety representative in workplaces of 5 to 19 workers, or through a joint health and safety committee for workplaces of 20 or more workers. Employers with fewer than 5 workers should also have a way for workers to raise health and safety concerns at the workplace. Work with these committees and workers to resolve any identified safety issues.


Step 6 – Assess and address risks from resuming operations
If your workplace has not been operating, there may be risks arising from restarting your business that you need to manage. Consider the following:
  • Have you had any staff turnover, or are workers being required to change or adapt job roles, or to use new equipment? Consider training or orientation for new workers.
  • Will workers need time or training to refresh their skills after having been out of the workplace?
  • Have you changed anything about the way you operate, such as the equipment you use or the products you create?
  • Are there any processes required for start-up that might introduce risks? Consider the impact of restarting machinery, tools and equipment, or clearing systems and lines of product that may have been left when your business was closed.

Physical/Social Distancing

The most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to ensure workers and customers practice physical distancing. This requires maintaining at least two metres of separation between workers, customers, and visitors.

Where possible, physically mark two-metre intervals. This could include indicating where customers should wait for service, marking aisles as one-way, separating desks by two metres, blocking seating to ensure two metres is maintained, controlling entrances and exits, etc.

You may have some roles that are lower risk, meaning they can usually, if not always, maintain two metres of distance and other roles that present higher risk, meaning they cannot regularly maintain two metres.

Consider the installation of a physical barrier, if possible, such as a clear plastic guard that may be used to protect workers from potential exposure. Face coverings may also be used as an additional measure to protect workers, clients, and visitors when workplaces are not able to ensure two metres of physical distancing.

PEI Public Health - Carpooling and Essential Transport Guidance
PEI Public Health - Social Distancing
PEI Public Health - Social Distancing Poster
WorkSafe BC - Selecting and Using Masks

Hygiene

Promote frequent handwashing in the workplace. Ensure hand wash stations have adequate soap. Ensure hand sanitizer is readily available when required.

Educate workers on proper coughing/sneezing etiquette (into your sleeve or into a tissue and safely throwing out the tissue).

CCOHS - Hand Washing Poster
CCOHS - How To Use Hand Sanitizer
CCOHS - Prevent The Spread of Infections Poster


Sanitary Environment

Adopt rigorous cleaning procedures. Evaluate the workplace for shared objects and common areas. Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces/objects, such as door handles, handrails, ATMs, etc.

CCOHS - Disinfection of Touchpoints
CDC - Cleaning and Disinfection Your Facility
Health Canada - Guideline for Safe Cleaning Surfaces

Self-Isolation

Self-isolation can help prevent the spread of infection, such as COVID-19. When you are exposed to an illness, there is a time between the exposure and when you start to feel sick. This is known as the incubation period. There is a very small chance that you can spread the germs during this time, in the few days before a sickness starts.

Staying home means that if you do start to feel sick, you won’t run the risk of this happening while you are in a public place. Self-isolation is a cautious action used to lower the chance that the virus could spread to others.

PEI Public Health - COVID-19 Self Isolation
PEI Public Health - Social Isolation for Essential Workers

Screening Workers and Visitors

To limit the spread of COVID-19 a recommended practice is to screen workers and visitors before they enter the workplace. Screening can assist to quickly identifying those who need further testing and immediate isolation to prevent spreading the virus within the workplace. It can also help to identify anyone who may have come into contact with that person showing symptoms so they too can be tested and isolated if necessary.

Passive Screening
Passive screening is generally in the form of signage or asking workers and visitors to complete a self-screening survey prior to entering the workplace.

Active Screening
Active screening occurs when an employer actively seeks information to determine the health status of people entering the workplace.

Employers performing active screening should consider the following guidance;
  • Active screening needs to be conducted by a designated individual.
  • Active screening requires conducting temperature checks of all persons, provided a non-contact thermometer (i.e. infrared) or other acceptable device, is available. An alternative to infrared thermometers is disposable thermometers.
  • The active screening activity must be conducted at the start of each shift and repeated at least once every five hours.
  • For personnel working 24-hour shifts, active screening, including temperature checks, must be conducted a minimum of four times during normal waking or active working hours, spaced in intervals of not more than five active working hours.

CCOHS - COVID-19 Screening Tools
Government of Canada - Self Assessment Tools
PEI Public Health - Self Assessment

Working Remotely

COVID-19 and directives from Public Health has quickly and dramatically changed the work landscape. Physical distancing has required employers to implement telecommuting and working from home options for workers. Although some workers may prefer this type of work arrangement, employers have a responsibility to ensure all work environments off site are as safe as reasonably possible.

CCOHS - Telework and Home Office Health and Safety Guide
Government of Alberta – Working From Home During a Pandemic

Mental Health

A pandemic can be a very stressful time of your workers. It is normal to feel some stress and anxiety during these times. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and to take measures to support mental wellbeing.

CCOHS – Preventing Stigma During COVID-19
CMHA PEI - COVID-19 Mental Health Resources
Government of Canada – Mental Health Tips for Working From Home
PEI Public Health – Take Care Of Your Mental Health