The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development has provided some new material in the Guide to developing your COVID-19 workplace safety plan, (the “Safety Plan Guide”) originally released in June 2020. In addition to this, new standalone guidance on using masks in the workplace has been released and the existing guidance note for the Restaurant and Food Services sector has also been updated. More information on these updates can be found below.
Be sure to check the most current requirements of the local public health unit here
Guide to developing your COVID-19 workplace safety plan (the “Safety Plan Guide”)
The guide provides a framework for managing workplace risks from COVID-19. It can be adapted to any situation and can be used to identify and implement control measures based on guidance from public health and OHS sources, including incorporating new evidence as it emerges and adapting to (local) changes in the pandemic situation. It is designed with a focus on implementation, to promote learning about OHS approaches and to build capacity and awareness.
The recent revisions include new or updated information about several evolving topics of particular importance for many employers:
- - Active screening of workers
- - Air flow/ventilation
- - What to do if there is a case of COVID-19 in the workplace
- - The use of masks as source control
This document provides an overview of the uses of masks in the workplace (for source control and/or as PPE) and some considerations about mask selection and use. It provides information to help employers determine what is right for their workplace as well as understand some of the evolving regulations and messages about masks and face coverings.
This document has been updated to integrate key content from the Safety Plan and to provide information about the different uses of masks in the workplace as well as clarity on the use of masks with eye protection as personal protective equipment. Some of these updates are highlighted below:
Using masks as a control measure
A mask is a piece of equipment that covers the wearer’s nose, mouth and chin. It is fixed to the face with straps, ties or elastic, either behind the head or with ear loops.
For COVID-19 protection, masks can be used as workplace control measures in two ways:
- - as source control: workers and visitors wear a mask to protect those around them
- - as personal protective equipment (PPE): workers wear a mask (along with eye protection) to protect themselves
You need to assess all relevant factors in your workplace to decide whether you will use masks as source control or if they will be needed as PPE.
Not all masks are suitable for both purposes, but a surgical or procedure mask worn as part of PPE can also serve as source control.
You need to consider how the mask will be used to select a type of mask that is suitable for the purpose.
Using masks as source control
All employers should consider using source control masking combined with other control measures. The use of source control masks is especially important indoors to help reduce the risk in situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
This type of masking is generally appropriate for:
- - workers who can normally maintain a two metre distance from others, such as food service workers providing delivery or take-out services
- - those working in outdoor settings where the risks may be lower as the space is not enclosed.
In Ontario workplaces the wearing of masks as source control may also be legally required. You should be aware of the most current:
- - requirements of the local public health unit
- - relevant bylaws in the municipality in which you do business
- - regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act that are applicable to your business
- - directives issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health that are applicable to your industry or business.
Using masks and eye protection as PPE
Where PPE is needed in a restaurant setting, it will likely consist of a surgical/procedure mask in addition to eye protection. This is consistent with public health direction that droplet precautions be taken where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
New public health measures under Ontario Regulation 364/20: Rules for areas in Stage 3 require the use of source control masks in indoor spaces, including restaurants. Because patrons are generally permitted to remove their masks while eating and drinking, food servers are likely to be working within two metres of unmasked people without a barrier.
PPE will be needed unless other controls can be implemented to address the hazard. These might include taking steps to maintain physical distance or masking such as:
- - having patrons collect their meals from carts after the server has withdrawn
- - bussing tables after patrons have departed
- - requiring/reminding patrons to put on their masks before the server approaches the table