In November 2020, Ontario updated its regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, requiring businesses in certain designated public health zones to develop a “safety plan” in response to COVID-19. Since then, the Ontario government’s guidance has been updated, and safety plan requirements have been extended to businesses in all public health zones, including those in “Green-Prevent Zones” and “Lockdown Zones”.
To comply with safety plan requirements, Ontario businesses that are open must prepare and make available a documented “safety plan” describing the measures and procedures that are being implemented in the workplace to limit the spread of COVID-19, including:
- physical distancing;
- masks and face coverings;
- cleaning and disinfecting; and
- other personal protective equipment.
The safety plan must be posted in a conspicuous place where it is most likely to come to the attention of individuals working in, or otherwise attending, the business, and must be made available upon request. The safety plan should be proactively shared with employees, supervisors, managers, unions, health and safety representatives, and joint health and safety committees.
In issuing its updated guidance on safety plans, the Government of Ontario has provided a template to assist businesses in developing their plans. This template provides businesses with six questions to consider as workplace safety plans are developed, including:
- How will you ensure all workers know how to keep themselves safe from exposure to COVID-19?
- How will you screen for COVID-19?
- How will you control the risk of transmission in your workplace?
- What will you do if there is a potential case of, or suspected exposure to, COVID-19 at your workplace?
- How will you manage any new risks caused by changes to the way you operate your business?
- How will you make sure your plan is working?
We recommend businesses update their safety plan regularly to address the evolving circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also suggest that businesses periodically review the Ontario government’s guidance as it is likely to change over time.
Many thanks to Alissa Scarcello for her assistance in drafting this update.