General Occupational Health Advisory (COVID-19): Annex A - Advice for federal employees at points of entry in Canada
From: Health Canada
Updated: 10 July 2020
Public Service Occupational Health Program (PSOHP)
Please note that this advice may change as more information becomes available.
On this page
- Hygiene measures
- Cleaning protocols
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) recommendations
- Other measures: Non-medical masks and cloth face coverings
- Sources of information
For general information and advice on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), please refer to PSOHP's General Occupational Health Advisory. Additional information is available at Canada.ca/coronavirus and the COVID-19 site for Government of Canada employees.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
- Cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm and not your hands.
- Stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others.
- Practice physical distancing by maintaining a two-metre distance from other people whenever possible.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick (especially if they have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing).
- Use appropriate products to clean and disinfect items such as desks, work surfaces, phones, keyboards and electronics, cash registers, keypads, elevator buttons, and customer service counters, especially when visibly dirty.
- If items can withstand the use of liquids for disinfection, frequently touched electronics such as phones and other devices may be disinfected with 70% alcohol (e.g., alcohol wipes).
All employees should follow the measures recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada for Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace: Employers, Employees and Essential Service Workers.
In addition to the information in PSOHP's General Occupational Health Advisory, the following recommendations apply for federal employees working at all points of entry (e.g., airports, marine ports and Canadian land border crossings) and specifically for those who work with travelers and crew personnel:
- Be up-to-date with all recommended adult vaccinations as per the Canadian Immunization Guide. For communicable disease advice or immunization status queries, call your local public health authorities or the Public Service Occupational Health Program office in your region.
- Obtain the recommended immunizations as outlined for your occupational group by PSOHP.
If the employee comes in contact with a traveler or crew personnel who is ill:
- The ill person should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue and maintain a physical distance of two metres from others (if a non-medical mask or cloth face covering is available, it may be offered).
- Isolate the ill person from others in a separate area or room, when feasible.
- Ensure the following supplies are available in the separate area or room: tissues, alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing a minimum of 60% alcohol) and a plastic lined waste basket.
- Anyone interacting with the ill person should practice physical distancing of two metres and rigorous hand hygiene.
- Further guidance may be found in your department's standard operating procedures on the management of individuals who have been identified as requiring follow-up by a quarantine officer.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) recommendations
Outside of the health care context, PPE should only be used as per the department's PPE program, based on a risk assessment that considers both the risk associated with a specific task/activity and the characteristics of the source of the infection (e.g., a sick person or a contaminated environment). The use of respirators (e.g., N95 respirators) for COVID-19 is not recommended except for some specific medical procedures.
PSOHP recommends the use of the following PPE for federal employees at points of entry to Canada:
- work gloves when handling cargo containers;
- medical gloves when handling documents and baggage of potentially ill persons (medical gloves are disposable gloves used to help prevent cross-contamination between individuals); and
- medical gloves, eye/face protection and a medical mask when escorting and/or remaining with an ill person.
It is important to avoid all contact between the medical gloves and your eyes/nose/mouth to prevent potential transmission of the virus. Consistently use good hand hygiene measures. If hands are visibly soiled, wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
All staff should be trained on the correct technique and sequence for putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) their PPE. Each department's occupational health and safety team can recommend the choice and use of PPE.
Other measures: Non-medical masks and cloth face coverings
When all other measures relating to physical distancing and physical barriers are exhausted, impractical or not feasible, non-medical masks (NMMs) and/or cloth face coverings are an additional measure that can be used to protect others around them. They are to be worn when physical distancing is not possible or is unpredictable.
- Recognizing the challenges in maintaining a two-metre distance at all times, departments will provide NMMs and/or cloth face coverings and instructions about their appropriate use and disposal.
- NMMs and/or cloth face coverings alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19. Continue to follow measures such as frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and physical distancing whenever possible.
- NMMs and/or cloth face coverings are not personal protective equipment (PPE), as they protect others and not the wearer.
- Note that the level of risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the community and the local public health advice regarding the wearing of non-medical masks and/or cloth face coverings may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
- Benefits of use are greatest when the risk of viral transmission is higher (e.g., local community transmission, busy public settings where you may not be able to control your contacts with others). Benefits are marginal when risk of viral transmission is lower (e.g., limited community transmission, private or work settings where you are able to control physical distancing and limit your contact with others).
- NMMs and/or cloth face coverings should not be placed on anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance, or young children under 2 years of age.
- It is important that NMMs and/or cloth face coverings fit well, are worn safely and disposed of correctly.
- Be sure to read the guidance on cloth face coverings (or watch this video) as well as cleaning and disposing of them. If you plan to reuse an NMM or cloth face covering, temporarily place it in a clean paper bag or envelope between uses during the same work day and until able to have it machine washed in hot water. NMMs that cannot be washed should be discarded and replaced as soon as they get damp, soiled or crumpled. Dispose of masks in a lined garbage bin and do not leave discarded masks elsewhere in the workplace or fleet vehicles.
Sources of information
Public Health Agency of Canada
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update
- Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace: Employers, employees and essential service workers
- Risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Community-based measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Canada
- COVID-19 List of Affected Areas
- About non-medical masks and face coverings
Global Affairs Canada
Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
Employment and Social Development Canada Labour Program
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
World Health Organization
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