Safe Work Practice

The following is a guide for employer’s to use as a toolbox talk or safety meeting when discussing the COVID-19 virus with their worker’s on a construction site. 

Personal Responsibilities:

  • It is critical that individuals NOT report to work while they are experiencing illness symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, chills or fatigue.
  • Individuals should seek medical attention if they develop these symptoms.
  • Send home and ask them to seek medical attention call 811.

Social Distancing:

  • Do not host large group meetings, Health Canada and the NS Department of Health and Wellness recommends that we avoid gatherings of 10+ people; and when meeting, that we keep a 6-foot distance between people. Perform meetings online via conference call whenever possible.
  • To limit the number of people on a jobsite, allow non-essential personnel to work from home when possible.
  • Discourage hand-shaking and other contact greetings.

Job Site / Office Practices:

  • Communicate key Health Canada and the NS Department of Health and Wellness recommendations (and post signage where appropriate) to your staff and tradespeople.
  • Place signage that encourage staying at home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they can be seen.
  • Supervisors should ask the following questions to all employees prior to entering the jobsite. If they answer ‘yes’ to any, they should be asked to leave the jobsite immediately.
    • Have you, or anyone in your family, been in contact with a person that has tested positive for COVID-19?
    • Have you, or anyone in your family been in contact with a person that is in the process of being tested for COVID-19?
    • Have you, or anyone in your family traveled outside Canada.
    • Have you been medically directed to self-quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19?
    • Are you having trouble breathing or have you had flu-like symptoms within the past 48 hours, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, chills or fatigue?
  • Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60 – 95% alcohol or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. Make sure they have adequate access to cleaning facilities
  • Provide soap and water and alcohol-based rubs in the workplace. Ensure adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in meeting rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
  • Do not congregate in lunch areas.
  • Do not share tools.
  • Do not share personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Sanitize reusable PPE per manufacturer’s recommendation prior to each use.
  • Ensure used PPE is disposed of properly.
  • Utilize disposable gloves where appropriate; instruct workers to wash their hands after removing the gloves
  • Disinfect reusable supplies and equipment.
  • Identify specific locations and practices for daily trash such as paper, hand towels, food containers, etc. Instruct workers responsible for trash removal in proper PPE/hand washing practices.
  • Provide routine environmental cleaning (doorknobs, keyboards, counters, and other surfaces)
  • Do not use common water cooler. Provide individual water bottles or instruct workers to bring their own.
  • Instruct workers to change work clothes prior to arriving home, and to wash clothes in hot water with laundry sanitizer.
  • Don’t stack trades, if possible.
  • Utilize disposable hand towels and no-touch trash receptacles.
  • Request additional/increased sanitation (disinfecting) of portable toilets.
  • Avoid cleaning techniques, such as using pressurized air or water sprays, that may result in the generation of bioaerosols.

Manage Sick Employees:

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
  • Separate sick employees.
  • Communicate your company’s Human Resources practices for managing sick time related to COVID-19.
  • Refer to Government websites for information regarding pay/EI/Emergency funding

Planning Considerations for Employers:

  • Prepare for increased absenteeism
  • Cross train employees to handle other functions
  • Encourage employees to develop contingency plans for childcare in the event there are long term closures for day cares and schools.

Prepare for business interruption:

  • Identify alternative suppliers
  • Prioritize certain customers
  • Prepare to shut down certain functions