On April 30, 2020 the provincial government announced the release of sector-specific health and safety guidelines to protect workers, customers, and the general public from COVID-19, in preparation for the gradual reopening of Ontario’s economy. The provincial government is encouraging businesses to familiarize themselves with these guidelines now, so they are ready to safely re-open once restrictions are lifted.
As part of this initiative, the Ministry of Labour released its own sector-specific safety guidelines for the following sectors: construction, food processing, restaurant and food services, agriculture, manufacturing, and long-term care. The government has also prepared posters for these businesses to use to promote a variety of COVID-19 safety tips in the workplace. These guidelines and posters can be accessed here.
In addition to the Ministry’s own sector-specific safety guidelines, the provincial government also announced that four (4) provincial health and safety associations (HSAs) had, in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, released more than sixty (60) additional technical sector guidance documents to further support employers and employees in remaining safe in the workplace during the COVID-19 outbreak. The HSA guidance documents provide some additional information for businesses generally and for those operating specifically in the construction, transportation, transit, utilities, health care, office, police and fire services, mining, forestry, retail, grocery, funeral, tourism and hospitality, maintenance, manufacturing, automotive, film and television, and agriculture sectors. A full list of the HSA guidance documents be accessed here.
As the provincial government has yet to indicate when it will begin to re-open the economy or which businesses will be permitted to re-open during the first phase of the re-opening process, we would encourage all business owners to review the guidelines now and start planning for any adjustments that will need to be made to your workplace in order to comply with the guidelines. If no sector-specific guidelines have been released yet for your industry, reviewing the current guidelines for any related industries may give you some sense of the modifications you may be expected to make to your own workplace in order to safely resume operations. Additional workplace safety guidelines are expected to be released for more sectors in the coming days and weeks.
Disclaimer: As always, this post does not constitute legal advice and we would encourage you to seek professional legal advice from one of our knowledgeable lawyers before making any decisions with respect to your own case.