Public Service Occupational Health Program COVID-19 Guidance

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Executive summary

Health Canada's Public Service Occupational Health Program (PSOHP) has updated its occupational health guidance in light of the evolving COVID-19 situation. Departments and agencies can return to full building occupancy with appropriate use of workplace preventive practices. Preventive practices are used in a layered approach to control the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Masks can be removed when physical distancing can be maintained at a workstation or in a meeting. Continue to wear a medical mask or respirator indoors when it is difficult to maintain physical distancing (for example, in elevators, entrances, hallways and stairwells).

Regular in-person client service operations can resume at full capacity, noting that employees, clients, visitors and the public should wear masks at all times when interacting indoors.

The use of signage to prevent ill individuals from entering the workplace should continue. However, active screening and tracking of employees and visitors on-site is not needed in most workplaces.

Employees who have been in close contact with a confirmed or presumed case of COVID-19 can enter the worksite after exposure. They must be free of symptoms and have not been instructed to quarantine by local public health authorities. Employees who test positive or have symptoms should not return to the workplace for at least 7 days and must be asymptomatic upon their return.

Other preventive practices such as ventilation, cleaning and hand hygiene continue to be important in federal workplaces.

About this guidance

Health Canada's PSOHP developed this guidance to help departments and agencies respond to COVID-19 in their workplaces.

This guidance is not prescriptive. Deputy heads are ultimately responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Federal departments and agencies will have their own approaches to implementing preventive practices. They will tailor these practices to their work settings and employee functions, taking into account local COVID-19 considerations. Departments and agencies should continue to work with their Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) resources and committees.

This guidance document is based on the latest science and the most recent advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). PSOHP will update the guidance as the COVID-19 situation in Canada evolves.

Health Canada's PSOHP provides occupational health guidance to federal departments and agencies in the core public administration (operationalized as Schedule I and IV of the Financial Administration Act). Other federal departments and agencies (that is separate employers) may wish to consider these recommendations for their federally regulated workplace.

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