How businesses and employees can stay safe while operating during COVID-19
There have been outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canadian workplaces. As vaccine coverage increases, provinces and territories are re-opening their economies and lifting public health measures based on local circumstances. Learn what you can do as an employee or an employer to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to protect yourself, your family and your community.
First responders and health care workers should follow the occupational health and safety and infection prevention and control practices within their workplace.
On this page
- A prepared workplace
- Guidance and resources by province or territory
- Communications templates and printable signage
- Other business toolkits and resources
- Guidance for specific types of workplaces
A prepared workplace
For tips and information on operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, refer to the guidance developed under the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. This hub addresses many types of workplaces, such as:
- first responders
- emergency and patient intake
Guidance and resources by province or territory
Use reliable sources for credible information about COVID-19 and your workplace. Along with Public Health Agency of Canada information, follow the directions of your provincial or territorial public health authority as you reopen or operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- British Columbia
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Northwest Territories
Reduce your COVID-19 risk by making safer choices with this interactive, web-based risk assessment tool. It will help you assess and make informed decisions about your personal risk for COVID-19 when going out and visiting others:
You should know about, understand, and follow all policies and practices that may be applicable to your workplace. Policies and practices may include:
- staying home from work when sick
- practising hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette in your workplace
- cleaning and disinfecting workstations and other surfaces and objects in your workplace
- wearing a non-medical mask or personal protective equipment as required while at work
- maintaining physical distancing from co-workers and customers, when possible
- participating in a workplace screening initiative
If needed, ask your supervisor for more information.
If you've been in close contact with someone known or suspected to have COVID-19, contact your local public health authority and follow their advice. They can help you determine if you should continue working. Do this even if you don't have symptoms.
When not at work, you should continue to follow the directions of your local public health authority.
Getting vaccinated can help to protect you, your family and your community. Vaccines are effective at preventing serious outcomes due to COVID-19, such as severe illness, hospitalization and death.
You are best protected when you are fully vaccinated which is why completing your vaccination series is important. The effectiveness of a 2-dose vaccine series increases after the second dose. By 2 weeks after your second dose, you'll likely be well protected and:
- your risk of serious illness will be much lower
- the risk of other people catching the virus from you is likely very low
- it's likely you'll have very good protection against infection, including against most current variants of concern
After vaccination, you should continue to follow public health recommendations and use individual public health measures to protect yourself and others.
If you're at risk of more severe disease or outcomes, masking and physical distancing provide additional layers of protection. These measures can further reduce your risk in all settings.
Consult your local public health authority on how to get vaccinated.
If you become sick at work
- Tell your supervisor and ask about the proper procedure to follow in your workplace until you can return home safely. This may include:
- isolating in a designated room or area
- avoiding public transit to get home
- Once home, isolate yourself:
- even if your symptoms are mild
- even if you have just one symptom
- Contact your health care provider or local public health authority and follow their advice, even if you're an essential worker.
Protect yourself and others when commuting to work
- When using public transit to get to work, try to avoid:
- crowded places
- travelling during peak hours
- If commuting to work in a private vehicle with others:
- keep the windows down
- limit the number of passengers
Take care of your mental health
- Talk to your family, friends and coworkers about your concerns and theirs.
- Ask for help if you're feeling overwhelmed.
- Seek support from an employee assistance program if your workplace has one.
- Consult resources for mental health and emotional well-being.
Reduce COVID-19 risk in community settings:Use our tool for operators
- Communicate openly about COVID-19 policies and procedures, and their impact on the workplace, employees and their families.
- Encourage employees to take care of their physical and mental health.
- Consider putting a rapid testing and screening program in your workplace.
- Involve your occupational health and safety committee, if you have one, or representative to:
- consider risks in your workplace setting
- provide personal protective equipment (PPE) as needed
- train employees on proper PPE use
- Work with building operators or consult a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to:
- identify opportunities to improve air exchange rates or filtration
- maintain HVAC systems and make sure they operate properly
- make sure HVAC systems are suitable for your setting and its number of occupants
Learn more about:
- Getting free rapid test kits
- Indoor ventilation during the pandemic
- COVID-19 rapid testing and screening program for workplaces
- Avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada.
- Consider the risks and benefits related to any upcoming essential travel and evaluate other options, if needed, such as:
- participating virtually
- Check the latest travel information and any travel health notices.
- Essential workers who need to travel regularly internationally may be exempt from having to quarantine when they return to Canada.
- For more information, refer to COVID-19 Travel, testing, quarantine and borders.
Support the mental health and workplace wellness of your workers
- Provide credible information, resources and tools on taking care of your mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Understand that your employees have other commitments that can affect their ability to work and their level of stress (for example, taking care of family members).
- Recognize that your employees may experience stigma for continuing to work outside of the home.
Communications templates and printable signage
- Prevention infographics and posters - Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
- Multi-lingual hand washing posters - Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
Other business toolkits and resources
- COVID-19 and Your Business Newsletter: Subscribe to receive the latest information and support for your business
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Business continuity plan (PDF)
- Pandemic tip sheets for specific occupations and industries - Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
- Resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace - Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
- Workplace recovery toolkit - Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- Small business help centre - Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)
Guidance for specific types of workplaces
- COVID-19 health and safety resources (Retail Council of Canada)
- COVID-19: Standardized Protocols for All Canadian Construction Sites (PDF, Canadian Construction Association)
Food production or processing
- Guidance: Considerations relating to the use of face coverings by commercial vehicle drivers and motor carrier, and intercommunity bus passengers
- Use of non-medical masks or face coverings in the Canadian transportation system
- COVID-19 guidance for the Canadian aviation industry
- Backgrounder: COVID-19 safety requirements for commercial passenger vessels and ferries
- Guidance material for air operators managing travellers during the check-in procedure for flights departing from an aerodrome in Canada
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