Ontario Construction News staff writer
All workplace COVID-19 outbreaks in Toronto will be published weekly beginning today (Jan. 7), in the following categories determined by Public Health Ontario and based on the North American Industry Classification System:
- Offices, warehouses, shipping and distribution, construction, and manufacturing settings
- Bar, restaurant, nightclub and other entertainment venues
- Event venues, and religious facilities
- Non-institutional medical health services including doctor’s offices, physiotherapy clinics, dental settings and wellness clinics
- Personal service settings including hair salons, tattoo parlours, nail salons and spas
- Recreational fitness facilities, group fitness classes, team sports and related events
- Retail settings including grocery stores, pharmacies and malls
- Food processing plants
- Other workplaces and community settings not captured in these categories
“Toronto Public Health continues to review the most current evidence to identify ways to better protect our community against COVID-19,” Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health said Monday at a news conference.
“This is why I am providing instructions to local businesses today to equip them with additional measures to prevent opportunities for this virus to spread and help keep these settings as safe as possible.”
De Villa thanked businesses for efforts to “ protect the health and safety of workers, volunteers, customers, and our city as we live with this virus.”
TPH has also issued a letter of instruction to businesses currently permitted to operate under the Reopening Ontario Act, outlining additional measures to take to further limit opportunities for COVID-19 spread including:
- Immediately notifying TPH of two or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days that are connected to the workplace setting by calling 416-338-7600.
- If two or more people test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days that are connected to a workplace, the employer must provide a designated contact to work with TPH to immediately implement any additional required measures to reduce virus spread.
- Providing contact information for all workers within 24 hours to support case and contact tracing, and notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development and any other relevant government authorities.
- Following enhanced infection prevention and control recommendations to help reduce virus spread such as ensuring hand sanitizer and hand-washing facilities are available, and that there is rigorous and frequent environmental cleaning in all high-touch public areas.
- Conducting a regular review of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to ensure they are functioning well.
- Minimizing instances of more than one individual travelling together in a vehicle for work, or ensuring face coverings are worn in the vehicle and driving with the windows open.
- Ensuring a two-metre physical distancing between workers throughout the workplace in lunchrooms, change rooms and washrooms. This includes installing one-way walkways to reduce close physical interactions and implementing physical barriers, such as plexiglass, when physical distancing is not possible.
TPH will disclose workplace outbreak information where a public health risk exist if there is evidence of sustained transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace, a significant proportion of employees have been involved in the outbreak, and the workplace is large enough that risk of privacy concerns are mitigated.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, TPH, along with the provincial government, has developed and promoted extensive guidance documents on how to prevent and manage COVID-19 spread in the workplace.
Documents tailored to specific settings and sectors including construction are available online.
“I urge all businesses permitted to operate under the Reopening Ontario Act to do the right thing and follow these additional measures to protect their employees and help protect the health of all Toronto residents,” said Mayor John Tory.
“This is about providing as much protection as possible to all the hardworking people who are still going to work in-person to provide essential goods and services. These are recommendations based on the best public health advice we have and will help keep people safe while ensuring businesses can stay open.”
TPH also recommends that employees are informed of income replacement and workplace-related benefits they are entitled to if they have to isolate due to virus symptoms, when they are being tested for COVID-19, or if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19.