Posted: July 20, 2020

Employers have an obligation to maintain a safe workplace for their employees at all times, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Here is some information from Occupational Health and Safety for employers handling workplace health and safety concerns related to the pandemic.

Employer Obligations from Occupational Health and Safety

OHS has released several editions of bulletins regarding obligations of employers during the pandemic. As of the June 12th bulletin, employers are required to report all incidents where a worker is exposed to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to OHS. This includes where there is a hospitalization or fatality, or where a worker has been exposed to confirmed OR suspected cases. OHS has outlined that reportable incidents include:

  1. Incidents where a worker is confirmed to have COVID-19 and the employer has reason to believe that the exposure occurred at work;
  2. Incidents where the work site is not following the rules, procedures and guidance related to COVID-19 protection and a worker is exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19; and
  3. Incidents where the COVID-19 controls in place have failed and a worker is exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.

Further, employers are required to conduct an internal investigation where a worker is exposed to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. The internal investigation of the workplace must be conducted with participation of the health and safety committee (HSC) or health and safety (HS) representatives. Upon completion of the investigation, employers are also required to write a report about the investigation and forward it to OHS, the HSC and the HS representative.

N95 Respirators Shortage

For workplaces that require the use of N95 respirators as part of their personal protective equipment, the province released a ministerial order on May 3rd which addressed the shortage of these respirators. The order temporarily amended the OHS Code to allow use of respirator standards from other countries as an alternative to N95 respirators without needing to request an approval.

On-Site Support

OHS Officers attending on site to observe workplace health and safety will also be observing COVID-19 specific control measures such as social distancing and sanitation, in accordance with provincial public health directives.

Need help ensuring you understand your OHS responsibilities as en employer?

As Covid-19 continues to affect workplaces across the province, our Employment Services Practice Group is here to advise employers about their workplace health and safety policies, and can assist with potential complaints from employees.

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Emery Jamieson LLP