Retail

Retail

This page includes resources for retail, supermarkets and shopping centres on work health and safety, workers’ compensation and COVID-19. The retail, supermarkets and shopping centres industry usually involves the sale of goods or services to the public in relatively small quantities for use or consumption, rather than for resale. The industry includes:


  • motor vehicle retailing

  • motor vehicle parts and tyre retailing

  • fuel retailing

  • supermarket and grocery stores

  • specialised food retailing

  • furniture, floor coverings, houseware and textile goods retailing

  • electrical and electronic goods retailing

  • hardware, building and garden supplies retailing

  • recreational goods retailing

  • clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing

  • department stores

  • pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing

  • non-store retailing

  • retail commission-based buying and/or selling

  • shopping centres


Workplaces may include areas where workers interact with customers, such as department and bulk stores, petrol stations, supermarkets and food shops, plant nurseries, hardware and timber merchants, and speciality shops. Some retail workplaces may not involve face-to-face customer contact, for example, where products are sold entirely online.

To ensure this information is as accessible and easy to understand as possible, we refer to ‘employers’ and their responsibilities. However, both provincial and state OHS legislation, duties apply to any person conducting a business which includes employers, but also others who engage workers.

Duties Under OHS Legislation

There are current public health directions restricting business operations in some jurisdictions both in Canada and the United States. If you want to know what restrictions on business operations apply to your workplace, go to your relevant provincial or state government website. Businesses must only operate to the extent permissible in each province or state. The information provided below outlines measures which cover all aspects of services offered by the industry – depending on what is permissible in your jurisdiction, some sections may not be currently relevant to your business. 

 

If you want to know how OHS legislation apply to you or need help with what to do at your workplace, contact us on 1 866 337 4734 or through our online contact form.

OHS legislation requires you to take care of the health, safety and welfare of your workers, including yourself and other staff, contractors and volunteers, and others (clients, customers, visitors) at your workplace. This includes:


  • providing and maintaining a work environment that is without risk to health and safety

  • providing adequate and accessible facilities for the welfare of workers to carry out their work, and

  • monitoring the health of workers and the conditions of the workplace for the purpose of preventing illness or injury


Duty to workers


You must do what you can to ensure the health and safety of your workers. You must eliminate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 if reasonably practicable. If you are not able to eliminate the risk of exposure to COVID-19, you must minimise that risk, as far as is reasonably practicable. Protect workers from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by, for example:


  • considering working from home arrangements

  • requiring workers to practice physical distancing

  • requiring workers to practice good hygiene (e.g., through workplace policies and ensuring access to adequate and well stocked hygiene facilities)

  • requiring workers to stay home when sick, and

  • cleaning the workplace regularly and thoroughly


Duty to other people in the workplace


You must ensure the work of your business does not put the health and safety of other persons (such as customers, clients and visitors) at risk of contracting COVID-19. Protect others from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by, for example:


  • requiring them to practice physical distancing, including through contactless deliveries and payments

  • requiring them to practice good hygiene, and

  • requiring others to stay away from the workplace, unless essential (such as family, friends and visitors)


Duty to maintain the workplace and facilities


You must maintain your workplace to ensure the work environment does not put workers and others at risk of contracting COVID-19. Maintain a safe work environment by, for example:


  • cleaning the workplace regularly and thoroughly

  • restructuring the layout of the workplace to allow for physical distancing, and

  • limiting the number of people in the workplace at any given time


You must also provide adequate facilities in your workplace to protect your workers from contracting COVID-19. Facilities that are required include:


  • washroom facilities including adequate supply of soap, water and paper towel

  • hand sanitiser, where it is not possible for workers to wash their hands, and

  • staff rooms that are regularly cleaned and allow for physical distancing


Provide workers with regular breaks to use these facilities, particularly to allow workers to wash their hands.


Duty to provide information, training, instruction and supervision


You must provide your workers with any information or training that is necessary to protect them from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 arising from their work. Information and training may include:


  • providing guidance on how to properly wash hands

  • training workers in how to fit and use any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • training workers to exercise adequate cleaning practices throughout the day

  • providing workers with instructions on how to set up a safe home workplace, and

  • providing workers with instructions on staying home from work if sick


Duty to consult


You must consult with workers on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19. When consulting, you must give workers the opportunity to express their views and raise OHS concerns. You must take the views of workers into account and advise workers of the outcome of consultation.


Consult with workers:


  • when you conduct a risk assessment

  • when you make decisions on control measures to use to manage the risk of exposure to COVID-19 (e.g. decisions on working from home arrangements, or restricting the workplace to allow for physical distancing)

  • when you make decisions about the adequacy of the workplace facilities to allow for control measures such as physical distancing and hygiene

  • when you propose other changes that may affect the health and safety of workers, and

  • when you change any procedures that have an impact on the OHS of workers


If you and the workers have agreed to procedures for consultation, consultation must be in accordance with those procedures. You must allow workers to express their views and raise OHS issues that may arise directly or indirectly because of COVID-19. You must take the views of workers into account when making decisions and advise workers of your decision.


Workers are most likely to know about the risks of their work. Involving them will help build commitment to your processes and any changes you implement. Consultation does not require consensus or agreement but you must allow your workers to be part of the decision making process. If workers are represented by health and safety representatives you must include them in the consultation process.


Resources and support


For more information on how we can help, select CONTACT US below or call toll free on 866 337 4734 to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced team members today.


Hygiene

There are current public health directions restricting business operations in some jurisdictions both in Canada and the United States. If you want to know what restrictions on business operations apply to your workplace, go to your relevant provincial or state government website. Businesses must only operate to the extent permissible in each province or state. The information provided below outlines measures which cover all aspects of services offered by the industry – depending on what is permissible in your jurisdiction, some sections may not be currently relevant to your business. 

 

If you want to know how OHS legislation apply to you or need help with what to do at your workplace, contact us on 1 866 337 4734 or through our online contact form.

The main way COVID-19 spreads from person to person is through contact with respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets may fall directly onto the person’s eyes, nose or mouth if they are in close contact with the infected person. Airborne transmission of COVID-19 can also occur, with the greatest risk in indoor, crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces. A person may also be infected if they touch a surface contaminated with the COVID-19 virus and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands. Research shows that the COVID-19 virus can survive on some surfaces for prolonged periods of time.


A key way you can protect workers and others from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is by requiring workers and others to practice good hygiene. Below are measures to ensure good hygiene in your workplace. Remember, you must consult with workers and health and safety representatives on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19, including what control measures to put in place in your workplace.


I work in a fashion retail store that allows customers to try on items of clothing before purchase. Do I need to close changing rooms?


No, but you do need to implement measures to minimise the risk of spreading the infection to both staff and other customers as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so. This may include discouraging customers from trying on clothes where possible and implementing a more flexible returns policy to support the closure of, or limited accessibility to, changeroom facilities.

COVID-19 is most commonly spread by a person breathing in respiratory droplets released when an infected person close to them coughs or sneezes. A person can also catch the virus by touching a surface where the live virus material is present, then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.


Where customers can try on clothes before they purchase, there are two key ways by which infection can be spread: through contamination of clothing items tried on by multiple people and contamination of coat hangers, and doors, walls and furniture within the changing rooms.


Contamination of clothing items


The risk of infection through contact with fabric or textiles in a retail store is very low. Porous surfaces, such as textiles and fabrics used to make clothes or curtains in a changing area, are likely to dry very quickly if contaminated by, for example, respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Over time as the droplets dry, the germs become inactive and unable to cause infection.


If a large amount of respiratory droplets come into contact with fabric or textiles in the retail store it may be several hours before it dries and any germs become inactive. This could occur for example, if somebody sneezes directly onto fabric at a very close distance. As such, you should still consider implementing measures to reduce the risk of infection through contact with textiles and fabrics if it is reasonably practicable to do so.


For example, you could require customers to return items to a dedicated hanging rack on exiting the changeroom and delay returning these items to the shop floor, for example, until at least the next morning.


Remind staff to exercise good hygiene after handling clothes, handles, hangers and other items and if possible, consider providing staff with appropriate gloves to handle hangers and clothing that has been tried on. If you choose to provide gloves to staff, you must select the appropriate type of gloves and train staff in their proper use. Our gloves information may assist. See also our guidance on the meaning of reasonably practicable.


Contamination of items and surfaces within the changing rooms


Overall, the most effective way to minimise the risk of infection with COVID-19 in a retail setting is by ensuring physical distancing, encouraging customers and staff to maintain good hygiene, including regular hand washing, and undertaking appropriate cleaning and disinfecting. Our page on cleaning provides useful information on cleaning and disinfecting measures that may help limit the spread of the virus. Additional steps that may help minimise the spread of infection in the changing rooms at your store include:


  • if possible, rotating the staff member/s responsible for the changerooms and/or handling and returning clothes to the shelves

  • using only every second changing stall if there are multiple stalls in close proximity

  • requiring customers who are queuing to use the changerooms to keep 2 metres apart. Put signs around the changeroom area and create wall or floor markings to identify the 2 metre distance. Your staff could wear a badge as a visual reminder to each other and customers of the physical distancing requirements

  • limiting the number of customers allowed in the changing area at a time so that physical distancing requirements can be met

  • removing seating from in and around the changing rooms

  • encouraging customers to have family and friends wait outside the changing room rather than go in with them

  • putting in place hygiene steps before someone touches any clothing or footwear (for example providing hand sanitiser for customer use if possible and reminding customers to use it on entry or before they select goods to try on)

  • requiring customers to re-hang unwanted clothes on hangers themselves and return to designated racks to be returned to the shop floor the next morning, and

  • managing the flow of customers into and out of the changing rooms to allow sufficient time for cleaning to take place on a regular basis. This includes cleaning and disinfecting frequent touch points such as door handles, hangers and hooks. Changing room curtains should be laundered if there is a chance they may have been contaminated. If curtains are made from a material that cannot easily be cleaned, there must be sufficient time given for the curtains to dry and the germs to become inactive.


If you consider that physical distancing or hygiene requirements are not able to be met in the changing rooms in your store, you should consider closing the changing rooms for the duration of the pandemic.


Is it possible for COVID-19 to spread through multiple customers trying on items of clothing in my store?


It is possible, but the risk of infection through contact with fabric or textiles in a retail store is very low. Porous surfaces, such as textiles and fabrics used to make clothes or curtains in a changing area, are likely to dry very quickly if contaminated by, for example, respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Over time as the droplets dry, the germs become inactive and unable to cause infection.


However, if a large amount of respiratory droplets come into contact with fabric or textiles in the retail store it may be several hours before it dries and any germs become inactive. This may occur for example, if somebody sneezes directly onto fabric at a very close distance. As such, you should still consider implementing measures to further reduce the risk of infection through contact with textiles and fabrics if it is reasonably practicable to do so.


For example, you could provide a designated area for clothes that have been tried on by customers to be placed if they do not wish to purchase them and wait until the next morning before staff touch the clothes to return them back to the shelves or racks.


I am concerned I will not be able to meet physical distancing and/or hygiene requirements in the changerooms at my store. What do I do?


There are simple steps you can take to help minimise the spread of infection in the changing rooms at your store including:


  • if possible, rotating the staff member/s responsible for the changerooms and/or handling and returning clothes

  • using only every second changing stall where there are multiple stalls in close proximity

  • requiring customers who are queuing to use the changerooms to keep 2 metres apart. Put signs around the changeroom area and create wall or floor markings to identify the 2 metre distance. Your staff could wear a badge as a visual reminder to each other and customers of the physical distancing requirements

  • limiting the number of customers allowed in the changing area at a time so that physical distancing requirements can be met

  • removing seating from in and around the changing rooms

  • encouraging customers to have family and friends wait outside the changing room rather than go in with them

  • putting in place hygiene steps before someone touches any clothing or footwear (for example providing hand sanitiser for customer use if possible and reminding customers to use it on entry or before they select goods to try on)

  • requiring customers to re-hang unwanted clothes on hangers themselves and return to designated racks to be returned to the shop floor the next morning, and

  • managing the flow of customers into and out of the changing rooms to allow sufficient time for cleaning to take place on a regular basis. This includes cleaning and disinfecting frequent touch points such as door handles, hangers and hooks. Changing room curtains should be laundered if there is a chance they may have been contaminated. If curtains are made from a material that cannot easily be cleaned, there must be sufficient time given for the curtains to dry and the germs to become inactive.


If it is not possible to implement these controls in your business, it may be necessary to close changerooms during the pandemic.


I am concerned that if I close the changerooms or implement measures that impact customer access to the changerooms my staff may be exposed to aggressive or abusive customers. What can I do?


Where you have decided to close your changerooms or implement measures that impact customer access (e.g. longer wait times) you should take measures to inform customers of the new arrangements when they enter the store.


Having clear information about the measures you have taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 can help to manage and reduce customer frustration, stress or anxiety about any changes and may reduce the risk of customer aggression and violence towards workers.


For example, you may wish to:


  • erect prominent signage at changing rooms to explain the measures you have in place to limit the spread of COVID-19

  • display signage clearly setting out any amended returns policy if you choose to adopt one so customers are immediately aware of the new arrangements in place to offset any inconvenience arising through new arrangements for accessing changerooms, and

  • ensure signage clearly states that violence and aggression will not be tolerated.


You can find more information on how to manage the risk of work-related violence on our Violence @ Work page.


Worker and visitor hygiene


You must direct your workers and visitors to the workplace to practice good hygiene while at the workplace. Good hygiene requires everyone to wash their hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (palms, fingers, nails and back of hands) and drying them completely, preferably with clean, single-use paper towels. If paper towels are unavailable, other methods such as electric hand dryers can be used, however, hands will still need to be dried completely.


Everyone must wash and dry their hands:


  • before and after eating

  • after coughing or sneezing

  • after going to the toilet, and

  • when changing tasks and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces.


An alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the active ingredient must be used as per the manufacturer’s instructions when it is not possible to wash hands. You should use the same procedure to rub your hands with sanitiser for 20-30 seconds. Alcohol-free hand rubs have not been shown to be effective against COVID-19 and experts recommend against using them. Good hygiene also requires everyone at the workplace to, at all times:


  • cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbow or a clean tissue (no spitting)

  • avoid touching their face, eyes, nose and mouth

  • dispose of tissues and cigarette butts hygienically, e.g. in closed bins

  • wash and dry their hands completely before and after smoking a cigarette

  • clean and disinfect shared equipment and plant after use

  • wash body, hair (including facial hair) and clothes thoroughly every day, and

  • have no intentional physical contact, for example, shaking hands and patting backs.


To enhance good hygiene outcomes:


  • develop infection control policies in consultation with your workers. These policies should outline measures in place to prevent the spread of infectious diseases at the workplace. Communicate these policies to workers

  • encourage customers to pay for their shopping electronically, including contactless payment or tap-and-go payments where possible

  • have customers pack their own shopping if they are using re-usable shopping bags

  • provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser in appropriate locations for customers to use, such as entries and exits, customer service desks, high traffic areas like lifts and travelators, outside toilets and food courts

  • train workers on the importance of washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and drying them correctly, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, before entering and exiting a common area

  • place posters near handwashing facilities showing how to correctly wash and dry hands (for example, if hand dryers are used, place posters advising that hands should be dried completely before finishing) and how to clean hands with sanitiser

  • inform workers of workplace hygiene standards that are expected when utilising common areas (cleaning up after yourself, placing rubbish in bins provided, avoiding putting items such as phones on meal surfaces, etc.)

  • use signage, screen networks, information directories and public announcements to remind customers and visitors to practice regular hand washing, use hand sanitiser and practice good cough/sneeze hygiene.


You should put processes in place to regularly monitor and review the implementation of hygiene measures to ensure they are being followed and remain effective.


What do I need to consider when providing hygiene facilities?


You must ensure there are adequate and accessible facilities to achieve good hygiene and that they are in good working order, are clean and are otherwise safe.


You may need to provide additional washing facilities, change rooms and dining facilities. You must also consider whether there are an adequate number of hand washing and drying stations, in convenient locations, to sustain the increase in workers’ practicing good hygiene. You may need to provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser in appropriate locations, such as entry and exits, if there are limited hand washing facilities available.


In shopping centres, hand sanitiser should be available for use by customers and visitors at key locations such as entry/exit points, outside toilets, food courts and high traffic areas such as lifts, travelators, escalators and outside supermarkets and large retailers.


Washroom facilities must be properly stocked and have adequate supplies of toilet paper, soap, water, and drying facilities (preferably single-use paper towels). They must also be kept clean and in good working order.


When determining what facilities you need consider the number of workers on site, the shift arrangements and when access to these facilities is required.  If you had temporarily down-sized worker numbers in response to COVID-19 and these will now be increased, you must take this into account to determine the facilities you need before workers return to work.


I need to create a new eating or common area. What should I consider when creating these areas?


If creating a new eating or common area to enable physical distancing, you must ensure these areas are accessible from the workplace and adequately equipped (e.g drinking water, rubbish bins) and protected from the elements, contaminants and hazards. You should also consider opening windows or adjusting air-conditioning for more ventilation in common areas, and limiting or reducing recirculated air-conditioning where possible.


Why are paper towels preferred over hand dryers?


Paper towels are preferable as they can reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 by drying the hands more thoroughly than hand dryers. Hand dryers can still be used, however, there is an increased risk of transmission if hands are not dried properly.


I am providing paper towels in my workplace. What else should I do?


Providing paper towels to dry your hands after washing them is better than using hand dryers because they can dry your hands more thoroughly. If you provide single used paper towels at your workplace, remember:


  • the paper towels should be replenished as required, and

  • used paper towels should be disposed of in a waste bin that is regularly emptied to keep the area clean, tidy and safe.


Wastes (including used paper towels) should be double bagged and set aside in a safe place for at least 72 hours before disposal into general waste facilities.


What if I can’t provide paper towels?


If paper towels cannot be provided, then hand dryers may be used to dry hands. You must train workers on how to dry their hands. Placing posters near hand dryers may assist with communicating the need for hands to be dried completely. If hands are not dried completely, good hygiene will not be achieved, and the hand washing will be ineffective.


Frequently touched areas of the hand dryers (i.e. buttons to activate the drying mechanism of the hand dryer) and the entire body of the dryer should be cleaned regularly. Nearby surfaces (such as the sink and taps) should also be cleaned regularly to remove any germs that may have been spread when drying hands.


Resources and support


For more information on how we can help, select CONTACT US below or call toll free on 866 337 4734 to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced team members today.

Physical Distancing

There are current public health directions restricting business operations in some jurisdictions both in Canada and the United States. If you want to know what restrictions on business operations apply to your workplace, go to your relevant provincial or state government website. Businesses must only operate to the extent permissible in each province or state. The information provided below outlines measures which cover all aspects of services offered by the industry – depending on what is permissible in your jurisdiction, some sections may not be currently relevant to your business. 

 

If you want to know how OHS legislation apply to you or need help with what to do at your workplace, contact us on 1 866 337 4734 or through our online contact form.

What is physical distancing and how does it prevent the spread of COVID-19?


Physical distancing (also referred to as ‘social distancing’) refers to the requirement that people distance themselves from others. COVID-19 spreads from person to person through contact with droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets may fall directly into the person’s eyes, nose or mouth if they are in close contact with the infected person. A person may also be infected if they touch a surface contaminated with the droplets and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands.


Current health advice states that in order to reduce the risk of contact and droplet spread from a person, directly or indirectly, and from contaminated surfaces, people should maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres, practice good hand hygiene and engage in routine cleaning and disinfection of surfaces.


Physical distancing can also include requirements for there to be 4 square metres of space per person in a room or enclosed space, as well as limits on gathering sizes. These requirements differ between industries and between provinaces and states. For example, some provinces and states have updated public health directions to adjust physical distancing rules in line with local circumstances, such as revising the one person per 4 square metres rule to one person per 2 square metres in some circumstances. For more information about physical distancing requirements applicable to your business, go to your relevant provincial or state government website.


Do I need to implement physical distancing measures in my workplace?


Yes. It is your duty under work health and safety laws to manage the risk of a person in your workplace spreading and contracting COVID-19, including the risk that persons with COVID-19 enter the workplace. Physical distancing is one of the key ways to lower the risk of COVID-19 being spread or contracted at your workplace.


The risk of COVID-19 should be treated in the same way as any other workplace hazard – by applying a risk management approach. In consultation with your workers, including volunteers, and their representatives (e.g. health and safety representatives (HSRs)), you will need to assess the likelihood and degree of harm people may experience if exposed to COVID-19 and then implement the most effective control measures that are reasonably practicable to manage the risk. The control measures you implement should include outcomes that support physical distancing and operate alongside measures encouraging good hygiene amongst workers and others as well as regular and thorough cleaning of the workplace.


To meet your OHS duty you should be continually monitoring and reviewing the risks to the health and safety of workers and others, as well as the effectiveness of control measures put in place to eliminate or minimise these risks. You must also assess any new or changed risks arising from COVID-19, for example customer aggression, high work demand or working in isolation. You may also need to comply with physical distancing measures issued under public health directions in your province or state. Each province and state has directions that reflect local circumstances. For more information about physical distancing requirements, go to your relevant provincial or state government website.


How do the public health directions in my province or state interact with my OHS duty?


You must comply with your province or state’s public health directions that apply to your business. Your OHS duty is to do all that you reasonably can to manage the risks of a person contracting and/or spreading COVID-19 in your workplace. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to implement control measures in order to meet your OHS duty that go beyond the minimum requirements stated in public health directions or advised by public health authorities. For example, public health directions may state you can have up to 10 customers in your shop at any one time. However, in undertaking your risk assessment you may determine that due to the layout of the workplace and your work processes, having 10 customers in the store would not effectively support physical distancing outcomes. Instead, limiting your store to 8 customers at a time would ensure everyone can maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from each other.


How do I determine which physical distancing measures to implement to minimise the risk of COVID 19 spreading in my workplace?


To determine which physical distancing measures will be most effective in your workplace, you will need to undertake a risk assessment. A risk assessment is part of the risk management process which involves identifying where the risk arises in your workplace, assessing the risks (including the likelihood of them happening), controlling the risks and reviewing these controls regularly. These steps remain the same whether you are conducting a risk assessment in relation to work health and safety generally, or specifically in relation to COVID-19. In order to determine the most effective physical distancing measures you will need to:


  • identify all activities or situations where people in your workplace may be in close proximity to each other

  • assess the level of risk that people in these activities or situations may contract and/or spread COVID-19 in your workplace, and

  • determine what control measures are reasonably practicable to implement based on the assessed level of risk


Remember, you must consult with workers, including volunteers, and their representatives (e.g. health and safety representatives) on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19, including what control measures to put in place in your workplace.


What physical distancing measures do I need to implement in my workplace?


Below are suggested measures to ensure physical distancing is achieved in your industry. Certain activities may not be permissible or there may be specific requirements in your province or state at this time and therefore some of the proposed measures may not be relevant to your workplace. For more information about physical distancing requirements, go to your relevant provincial or state government website.


Remember, you must do all that is reasonably practicable to manage the risk of people contracting and/or spreading COVID-19. Also remember, you must consult with workers and their representatives (e.g. health and safety representatives (HSRs)) on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19, including what control measures to put in place in your workplace.


Some accommodation providers offer additional services, such as courtesy buses or other transport, gyms, sit-down dining, day spas and beauty salons. For physical distancing measures specific to those services, refer to the following pages:


  • Public Transport

  • Hospitality

  • Gyms and Fitness Centres

  • Beauty Salons and Day Spas


Public areas


For public areas you will need to implement measures to manage traffic flows and numbers of people congregating. Determine how many people are able to use particular areas at a time based on physical distancing requirements.


  • implement measures to monitor the number of persons in public areas

  • put signs around public areas, including corridors to remind people and workers of physical distancing requirements and create floor markings in areas where people may congregate that provide a minimum 2 metre guide. Consider whether signage in different languages or with pictures is needed to communicate with anyone for whom English is a second language

  • create specific walkways in public areas with one way traffic flows where practical and appropriate. Where possible place these walkways in areas furthest away from where workers are stationed. If possible, designate separate doors for guests and workers. You may also wish to have doors designated for entry to, and exit from, the building

  • spread out any furniture in public areas to maximise distancing and consider removing chairs and tables if adequate distancing is not able to be achieved

  • if changing the physical layout of public areas, your layout must allow for workers and the public to enter, exit and move about both under normal conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable


Lifts


Even if workers and the public only spend a short amount of time in a lift each day, they are still at risk of being exposed to COVID-19 when using a lift. There is no requirement to provide 4 square metres of space per person in lifts, however you must still ensure, as far as you reasonably can, that people maintain physical distancing in lifts and lift waiting areas. Safe use of lifts is best achieved through a combination of measures, determined in consultation with workers, other employers in the building and the building owner/manager. This includes:


  • if possible, reducing the number of workers and public who need to use the lift at the same time (e.g. by promoting use of stairs if safe to do so and encouraging people and workers to wait for the next lift, where possible). If possible you may also wish to consider allocating certain lifts for workers and others for the public

  • implementing physical distancing measures in the lift waiting area including queueing systems, floor markings and advising of passenger limits for each lift

  • ensuring that when in the lift people maintain physical distance to the extent possible and practice good hygiene including cough and sneezing etiquette and washing hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser after exiting the lift

  • displaying signage to promote physical distancing and hand hygiene measures

  • if workers or the public are to use the stairs or emergency exits as alternatives to using lifts, you must consider if any new risks may arise (e.g. increased risk of slip trips and falls) and consider how other existing OHS measures will be impacted (e.g. emergency plans and procedures. See also our information on Emergency Plans


Recreational facilities


If your workplace provides recreation facilities such as pools, tennis courts, games rooms, BBQ areas etc, you need to ensure that physical distancing is maintained by guests while using these amenities, unless they are from the same household.


Calculate the number of people that can fit in a shared enclosed area following the 4 square metres rule and place this number on a sign at the entrance. Spread out furniture such as pool tables and video game machines in games rooms, and chairs/tables in the pool area to maximise spacing and consider removing furniture if adequate distancing is not able to be achieved. Only permit groups that are staying together to use recreational facilities (except pools), including BBQ facilities, at one time and implement a booking system to manage this. Put signs around recreational facilities and install floor markings to identify 2 metres distance. Close recreational facilities while cleaning is being undertaken to maintain distancing between workers and guests.


Staff only areas


Direct workers to maintain 2 metres physical distancing from each other in back office or staff only areas. To help achieve this:


  • limit worker numbers by facilitating working from home for office/administrative staff, where you can

  • split or stagger workers’ shifts so that there is no overlap of staff arriving at and leaving the workplace

  • consider having work groups so that the same group of workers work and have their rest breaks together

  • put signs around staff areas and create floor markings to identify 2 metres distance

  • limit physical interactions between workers, and workers and other persons - e.g. by using contactless deliveries and limiting non-essential visitors

  • require workers to use other methods such as mobile phone or radio to communicate rather than face to face interaction

  • reduce the number of workers utilising staff common areas at a given time - e.g. by staggering meal breaks and start times

  • spread out furniture in staff areas, including workspaces or common areas to the extent possible

  • consider providing separate amenities for workers and others in the workplace - for example separate bathroom facilities for workers and guests


If changing the physical layout of the workplace, your layout must allow for workers to enter, exit and move about the workplace both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.


Staff gatherings and training


You should postpone or cancel non-essential gatherings, meetings or training. If gatherings, meetings or training are essential:


  • use non face-to-face options to conduct – e.g. electronic communication such as tele and video conferencing

  • if a non face-to-face option is not possible, ensure face-to-face time is limited, that is make sure the gathering, meeting or training goes for no longer than it needs to

  • hold the gathering, meeting or training in spaces that enable workers to keep at least 2 metres apart and with 4 square metres of space per person – e.g. outdoors or in large conference rooms

  • limit the number of attendees in a gathering, meeting or training. This may require, for example, multiple training sessions to be held, and

  • ensure adequate ventilation if held indoors, for example by limiting the use of recirculated air and/or opening windows and doors where possible


Deliveries and contractors attending the workplace


  • non-essential visits to the workplace such as non-essential maintenance work and non-essential deliveries should be cancelled or postponed

  • minimize the number of workers attending to deliveries and contractors as much as possible

  • delivery drivers and other contractors who need to attend the workplace, to provide maintenance or repair services or perform other essential activities, should be given clear instructions of your physical distancing requirements while they are on site

  • ensure handwashing facilities, or if not possible, alcohol-based hand sanitiser, is readily available for workers after physically handling deliveries

  • direct visiting delivery drivers and contractors to remain in vehicles and use contactless methods such as mobile phones to communicate with your workers wherever possible

  • direct visiting delivery drivers and contractors to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser before handling products being delivered

  • use, and ask delivery drivers and contractors to use, electronic paper work where possible, to minimise physical interaction. Where possible, set up alternatives to requiring signatures. For instance, see whether a confirmation email or a photo of the loaded or unloaded goods can be accepted as proof of delivery or collection (as applicable). If a pen or other utensil is required for signature you can ask that the pen or utensil is cleaned or disinfected before use. For pens, you may wish to use your own


Ongoing review and monitoring


  • if physical distancing measures introduce new health and safety risks (e.g. because they impact communication or mean that less people are doing a task), you need to manage those risks too. Consult with workers and their representatives in relation to measures to manage any new risks. For example, changes to processes to maintain physical distancing may cause stress and anxiety among guests that may increase the risk of work-related violence. You can manage this risk by ensuring all signage indicates that work-related violence in response to new physical distancing measures (or for other reasons) will not be tolerated

  • put processes in place to regularly monitor and review the implementation of physical distancing measures to ensure they are being followed and remain effective


Do workers need to practice physical distancing when on a lunch break or when travelling to and from work?


Yes. Workers must always comply with any provincial or state public health directions or orders. This includes maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres between people. In some provinces and states there are strict limitations on gatherings in public places. This means that in some circumstances, workers cannot eat lunch together in a park or travel together in a vehicle to and from work. You should refer to your provincial or state health authority for further information on specific restrictions in place under public health directions or orders in your province or state.


My workers need to travel in a vehicle together for work purposes. How do they practice physical distancing?


You must reduce the number of workers travelling together in a vehicle for work purposes. You should ensure that only two people are in a 5 seat vehicle – the driver and a worker behind the front passenger seat. Only one worker should be in a single cab vehicle. These measures may mean:


  • more of your vehicles are on the road at one time

  • more workers are driving and for longer periods than usual (if driving by themselves)


Because of this, you should review your procedures and policies for vehicle maintenance and driver safety to ensure they are effective and address all possible OHS risks that arise when workers drive for work purposes. If workers are required to travel together for work purposes and the trip is longer than 15 minutes, air conditioning must be set to external airflow rather than to recirculation or windows should be opened for the duration of the trip. You must also clean vehicles more frequently, no matter the length of the trip, but at least following each use by workers. See also our information on Cleaning.


Resources and support


For more information on how we can help, select CONTACT US below or call toll free on 866 337 4734 to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced team members today.


Mental Health

There are current public health directions restricting business operations in some jurisdictions both in Canada and the United States. If you want to know what restrictions on business operations apply to your workplace, go to your relevant provincial or state government website. Businesses must only operate to the extent permissible in each province or state. The information provided below outlines measures which cover all aspects of services offered by the industry – depending on what is permissible in your jurisdiction, some sections may not be currently relevant to your business. 

 

If you want to know how OHS legislation apply to you or need help with what to do at your workplace, contact us on 1 866 337 4734 or through our online contact form.

OHS legislation cover risks to psychological (mental) health too. This is a stressful time for everyone, and you must do what is reasonably practicable to eliminate and reduce the psychological risks to workers and others at the workplace.


Under OHS laws, you must eliminate or minimize the risk to psychological health and safety arising from the work carried out by your business as much as you reasonably can. To determine what measures to put in place, you should carry out a risk assessment and consider all the risks to psychological health in your workplace. You must also consult your workers and their representatives. Workers often know what the issues are and have ideas about how to manage them.


Once you have consulted workers, determined appropriate measures and put them in place, continue to review how you are managing the risks to check your measures are working. This is an unprecedented time for all employers and workers. You may wish to seek professional advice on your OHS duties and how to meet them in your particular circumstances. The OHS regulator in your province or state may also be able to provide further advice.


What causes psychological injury? What are psychosocial hazards?


A psychosocial hazard is anything in the design or management of work that causes stress. Stress is the physical, mental and emotional reaction a person has when we perceive the demands of their work exceed their ability or resources to cope. Work-related stress if prolonged or severe can cause both psychological and physical injury. Stress itself is not an injury. For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced and increased a range of psychosocial hazards in the workplace, at a time when a range of other non-work related psychosocial risks are also occurring (uncertainty about future employment, social isolation etc.). Psychosocial hazards arising from COVID-19 include:


Exposure to physical hazards and poor environmental conditions


  • concern about exposure to COVID-19 at work

  • poor management of OHS risks, lack of equipment and resources, such as insufficient appropriate PPE

  • exposure to poor conditions such as heat, cold or noise in temporary workplaces


Exposure to violence, aggression, traumatic events and discrimination


  • increased work-related violence, aggression and incivility from patients, customers and members of the public

  • serious illness or death of colleagues or clients e.g. nursing home deaths due to COVID-19

  • racism, discrimination or stigma stemming from COVID-19

  • self-isolation as a result of suspected workplace exposure


Increased work demand


  • increased w