Notice: Coronavirus and occupational health and safety
On this page
- Responding to the risk of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the workplace
- What is coronavirus?
- Roles and responsibilities
- Employee rights under Part II of the Canada Labour Code
- Employer responsibilities under Part II of the Canada Labour Code
- Hazard Prevention Program
- Reporting requirements
- Information and resources
- Contact the Labour Program
Responding to the risk of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the workplace
There may be concerns from employers and employees in Canadian federally regulated workplaces about coronavirus and wonder how to prevent exposure in their workplaces.
Workplace parties should consider whether doing certain tasks puts employees at greater risk of exposure to coronavirus. Also consider whether the Hazard Prevention Program needs extra controls or protections.
To change the Hazard Prevention Program, the employer must consult the policy or workplace health and safety committee or representative.
The employer must inform and train employees on any changes to the Program, including any new personal protective equipment they provide.
Are you an employer or employee in a federally regulated workplace? Do you have concerns or questions about coronavirus? Contact the Labour Program at 1-800-641-4049 (toll-free).
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Some coronaviruses transmit between animals, some between animals and people, and others from people to people.
Information and updates about coronavirus: Coronavirus infection: Symptoms and treatment.
Roles and responsibilities
The Labour Program is responsible for administering the Canada Labour Code, Part II (the Code).
The Public Health Agency of Canada is responsible for preparing for and responding to any infectious disease emergencies that may happen in Canada.
Employers are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their employees while at work.
Employee rights under Part II of the Canada Labour Code
Under the Canada Labour Code, employees have 3 basic rights:
- the right to know
- the right to participate, and
- the right to refuse dangerous work
Definition of danger: "any hazard, condition or activity that could reasonably be expected to be an imminent or serious threat to the life or health of a person exposed to it before the hazard or condition can be corrected or the activity altered."
Employer responsibilities under Part II of the Canada Labour Code
Employers are responsible for protecting the health and safety of employees at work. If there is a risk of exposure to coronavirus for employees while working, employers must:
- assess the risk, and
- implement proper controls through their Hazard Prevention Program
If the employer requires personal protective equipment, they must provide training and procedures to employees. Employees must comply with the employer's procedures.
Hazard Prevention Program
Supporting the Internal Responsibility System, the employer must make all revisions to the workplace Hazard Prevention Program by consulting with:
- the policy health and safety committee
- the workplace health and safety committee, or
- the workplace health and safety representative
Employees must provide trainings on the hazard and the safe work procedures that will protect them. The employers must keep training records.
Do your employees refuse to work because of the coronavirus (even if it is resolved internally)? Or is there a confirmed case of coronavirus? As an employer, you should immediately advise the Labour Program at 1-800-641-4049 (toll free).
An Official Delegated by the Minister of Labour will follow up with the employer to review Code requirements related to this type of event.
Information and resources
Information about coronavirus and prevention:
- Public Health Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Outbreak update
- Public Health Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection: Prevention and risks
- The World Health Organization (WHO) current information and preventative measures
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Information on workplace health and safety:
Contact the Labour Program
- Telephone: 1-800-641-4049 (toll-free)
- Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-926-9105
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