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Live Entertainment

Live Entertainment

Both the Canadian and US governements have issued a statement on very high-risk environments, including nightclubs, dance venues and large unstructured outdoor events. This page includes resources for workplaces in the live entertainment industry on work health and safety, workers’ compensation and COVID-19.


The live entertainment industry is a service industry and involves workers (including performers, technicians and hospitality staff) and others (such as audiences and patrons). This guidance is aimed at live performances including performances by musicians, dancers, theatre performers, comedians, speakers and DJs. These may include venues such as:


  • theatres

  • amphitheatres and outdoor venues

  • pubs, taverns and bars

  • restaurants

  • clubs

  • concert halls and dedicated music venues

  • events, including weddings


We have also published information for Hospitality, Cultural Institutions and Cinemas.

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.

OHS Duties
Workers' Rights
Consultation
Risk Assessment
Vulnerable Workers
Emergency Plans
COVID @ Work
Health Monitoring
Physical Distancing
Hygiene
Cleaning
PPE
Masks
Gloves
Mental Health
Violence @ Work
Working from Home

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.

COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can acquire the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.


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.


Worker and client hygiene


You must direct your workers, patrons and others in 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 and dry them with clean paper towel. Everyone must wash 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. Good hygiene also requires everyone at the workplace to, at all times:


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

  • avoid touching their face, eyes, nose and mouth

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

  • wash their hands before and after smoking a cigarette

  • wash hands before and after interacting with patrons

  • clean and disinfect shared equipment and plant after use

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

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


You should implement processes to ensure workers and patrons do not attend the performance if they:


  • are experiencing symptoms linked to COVID-19 such as fever, cough or shortness of breath or

  • have been in close contact with someone who is confirmed as having COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms linked to COVID-19.


Inform patrons of these expectations when booking tickets. If patrons are booking over the phone, have a template written out for workers to read to the patrons. If booking online, add additional text to the booking confirmation setting out your expectations. You should also display signs at entrances to venues and events informing patrons of your expectations and not to enter if they or a close contact is unwell.


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

  • 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 and 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.)

  • if multiple performances will occur on a given day/evening consider alternating the available seats if possible to allow sufficient time for cleaning and increase the time between uses by different patrons.

  • back of house areas (that is, areas of the venue that are not accessible by the public) must also be cleaned frequently. For example, ensure the performance space and all the chairs, music stands, floors, microphones and any other equipment are cleaned after each use.

  • encourage performers to get ready at home or if that is not possible, discourage visiting dressing rooms of other performers.


Ensure cleaning practices extend to the dressing room and other areas used by performers and other workers.

  • if possible, consider having performers only use their own or allocated equipment, particularly equipment which performers breathe into such as musical instruments and microphones. Costumes and makeup should not be shared. Drink bottles must never be shared.

  • if possible, minimise the amount of equipment that is used to reduce the number of frequently touched objects for example limiting the number of props for a performance.

  • ensure all equipment such as speakers, sets/props, pulleys, rails or trolleys used to move equipment and any other equipment that is touched is frequently cleaned and disinfected. Refer to our cleaning webpage and cleaning guide for assistance.

  • if possible, consider having venue entry and exit doors kept open for example with a door stop, being operated by a staff member or using automatic doors to prevent doors being frequently touched.

  • encourage contactless payment where possible, including for mobile food, beverage and merchandise sales staff.

  • provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser in appropriate locations for workers and patrons to use, such as at the entry and exit points of the venue.

  • inform patrons with signs throughout the venue and notices on your website/social media of workplace hygiene standards that are expected when they come to the performance and reminding them to stay home if they feel unwell


This may include:


  • washing their hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser before arriving

  • encouraging patrons to minimise the number of items they bring to the venue and the number of times they touch their phone and other personal items as they could unintentionally transfer germs to the workplace

  • if reasonably practicable, you could encourage patrons to bring their own food to avoid queuing (in line with the venue’s rules about bringing in food)

  • if reasonably practicable, consider temporarily ceasing availability of all self-serve items (if any at your venue) or request that patrons only touch food/items that they intend to purchase, and

  • advise patrons to stay at home if they feel unwell or are required to self-isolate

  • provide additional cleaning for frequently touched surfaces e.g. doors, touchscreens


The following additional hygiene measures in each part of the venue may also help limit the spread of COVID-19. For workers working behind a counter (such as food and beverage service, ticket services, merchandise and the cloaking desk), in addition to the hygiene measures outlined above:


  • if reasonably practicable, consider allocating one cash register and POS machine per staff member per shift. At the end of the shift, all equipment should be cleaned and disinfected with a suitable product. If not reasonably practicable to allocate one cash register and POS machine per worker per shift, ensure disinfectant wipes are provided for the equipment to be wiped down before use by a different staff member

  • attempt contactless exchange of goods. For example, place food, beverage, merchandise or a cloaking token or item on the counter and step back behind an appropriate marking on the floor. The item can then be picked up by the other party. This will minimise the chance of incidental contact between peoples’ hands when exchanging items


When preparing for performances, in addition to the hygiene measures outlined above:


  • if possible, consider having performers do their own hair and makeup at home.

  • avoid sharing equipment, such as make-up tools, hairdressing or styling equipment and product, including shampoos and conditioners.

  • make-up artists and hairdressers/stylists should wear appropriate PPE.

  • make-up artists should ensure all sponges are disposable and use disposable lip liner brushes, mascara wands and other disposable items where possible.

  • performers should maintain their own equipment where possible. If other workers must tune performer’s instruments or undertake sound checks, they should use appropriate PPE such as gloves.


You can refer to our Hairdressers and Beauty salons pages for further information on measures that hair stylists and makeup artists can take. 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.


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 stations, in convenient locations, to sustain the increase in workers and patrons 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.


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


When determining what facilities you need, consider the number of workers and patrons on site, the shift arrangements and when access to these facilities is required. If you have 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 with increased numbers.


If creating a new eating or staff 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.


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.


Below are suggested measures to ensure physical distancing is achieved in venues and during performances. You will need to consider what measures will be most appropriate for your venue to minimise risks as far as is reasonably practicable. You should implement the most effective and reliable controls to support physical distancing. Controls that rely on your workers advising and reminding patrons of physical distancing are less effective and may introduce other risks, such as work-related violence and aggression. Physical control measures such as designated seating or some form of barrier to separate patrons are generally more effective.


Workers should be trained in processes and procedures to support physical distancing, including what to do if patrons do not follow these requirements (e.g. notify security or call police), and how to report incidents. You should consider the risks and whether security personnel may be required. You must review the effectiveness of control measures and adapt them or introduce additional control measures if existing arrangements are not effective and reliable.


General


  • ensure audience numbers allow for physical distancing and provide 4 square metres of space per person with at least 2 metres between patrons

  • consider moving performances to a larger space or outdoors if possible

  • provide access to additional facilities such as toilets if possible, for outdoor venues consider additional portable toilets to avoid congestion of patrons (e.g. during intervals or prior to or at the conclusion of a performance)

  • ensure foyers do not become crowded before performances or during intermission. For example opening doors earlier and encouraging audiences to go straight to their seats or allowing access to open areas such as gardens while they wait extending intermissions to facilitate the safe flow of audience traffic and access to facilities

  • staggering performance times so audiences for different performances are not concurrently using foyer space or facilities

  • ask patrons to provide their contact details at the point of ticket purchase and retain these records for the period required in your province or state (up to 56 days). If you have a membership program, keep member details up to date. This may assist local health authorities if contact tracing is required and may be legally required in your provinace or state under health and emergency directions

  • alternatively, scan QR codes or drivers licences/ID cards to collect attendee contact details

  • advise patrons about venue requirements in advance. Confirmation emails/letters for ticketed performances should include your measures for physical distancing, such as when the venue doors will be open, whether bars and cloaking services will be available and any new systems in place (such as electronic ordering)

  • how audience members will be asked to queue and exit the venue

  • that specific seating will be allocated for every ticket holder and must be unlocked before the event

  • seating maps, showing entry and exit points

  • any other relevant rules you will be asking them to observe

  • consider refunding ticket costs for those who cannot attend because of illness

  • ensure that any changes you make maintain disability access and safe thoroughfares for all patrons. This includes access when entering and moving through the venue, visibility of pathways and access to new instructions

  • limit backstage and green room access to essential personnel. For example, consider ceasing or changing the format of VIP meet and greet sessions to ensure performers can maintain physical distance from patrons

  • place signage about physical distancing around the venue. See our range of posters and resources to help remind workers and others of the risks of COVID-19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread. Clear, illustrated signage may assist communicating physical distancing requirements to patrons with language, hearing or literacy barriers

  • consider risks of work-related violence in response to new physical distancing measures (or for other reasons):provide patrons with information in advance and manage their expectations
    ensure signage and policies indicate work-related violence will not be tolerated
    see also our information on work-related violence

  • undertake contingency planning, including how to cancel the event or close the venue if the COVID-19 risk situation changes

  • 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


Entering, exiting and moving through venues


  • use signs at the entrance to the venue to indicate the maximum number of patrons permitted at a time. Additional signs should be used at the entry to spaces within the venue, such as separate function rooms and bathrooms

  • provide signage, floor decals and bollards to indicate distancing requirements wherever queuing might occur, including entrances to the building or performance areas and bathrooms

  • use signs to designate single-direction entry and exit points. You could use additional entry/exit doors into the venue if it is possible and safe to do so (for example, by using emergency exit doors or adding exits for outdoor venues)

  • if the performance is ticketed, tell patrons where to enter and exit on their tickets or by email

  • depending on the size of your venue and the expected size of the audience, you may need to open the building and performance area entrances earlier than usual to reduce queuing for entry and washroom facilities

  • consider asking audiences to exit the venue in an order that allows those closest to the exit to leave first. Provide signage at exits requesting patrons disperse swiftly to avoid crowding near exits

  • provide hand sanitiser stations at all entry and exit points and throughout the venue, particularly areas that may have high touchpoints or traffic flows

  • reduce crowding at ‘choke’ points or congregation points near amenities or food and drink facilities

  • minimise the need to touch door handles by chocking doors open with foot operated doorstoppers, where safe and appropriate for emergency exit doors

  • arrange any furniture to allow and encourage physical distancing (noting patrons are not required to distance from people from their family unit or household). Remove or tape-off furniture that is excessive to the venue’s adjusted capacity. Keep in mind that patrons with accessibility requirements may need priority access to furniture

  • ticket ripping should be eliminated to avoid contact– use scanners or sight tickets upon entry.

  • ensure adequate ventilation if the venue is indoors


Standing audiences


You should provide 4 square metres of space per person, even where audiences are standing and implement measures to keep workers, performers and patrons 2 metres apart. To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing:


  • implement measures to restrict audience size to allow 4 square metres per person

  • create and promote policies and procedures for the safety of any patrons who feel unable to physically distance due to the behaviour of other audience members

  • use floor markings and signage to indicate how much space audience members should allow each other

  • at ticketed events, consider a numbered grid to allocate standing areas to individuals or groups, similar to the way seats are allocated in seated venues. This could also facilitate control of traffic into and out of the venue allowing you to plan and stagger entry and exit to the venue, similar to plane boarding

  • consider the times when the bar, tickets and merchandise is available, to manage the movement of patrons

  • consider whether standing audiences or dancing patrons can adhere to physical distancing requirements and close the space if necessary


Seated audiences


Where performances take place in seated venues or alongside sit-down dining, implement measures to provide 4 square metres of space per person, with at least 2 metres between tables to keep groups of patrons apart from each other. To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing:


  • reduce the number of seats and tables available to enable them to be adequately spaced out, allowing for clear walkways for patrons and staff. If seats or tables cannot be removed, identify and label those that cannot be used to maintain physical distancing

  • remove flyers, magazines and other items that might be shared between patrons

  • if table service, bar services or refreshments are available, consider the use of electronic/app-based ordering systems to reduce interaction between patrons and staff

  • place limits on the size of patron groups, in line with activities permissible in your province or state

  • where larger communal type tables are used, consider changing to smaller tables where possible or implement measures to ensure each group of patrons are spaced at least 2 metres from other groups. Alternatively, use markings to show that individuals are unable to sit down in certain spots

  • consider a phased/staggered plan for seating patrons in the venue (similar to plane boarding) based on the specific configuration of your venue (e.g. Rows A-G, centre seats first). This may be aided by pre-queuing, foyer paging announcements, or instructions provided to audiences upon entry to the building

  • the layout of seated areas must allow for staff and patrons 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


For more advice about maintaining physical distancing in restaurants, bars and cafes, see our information on physical distancing in the Hospitality Industry.


Designated smoking areas


Designated smoking areas must be separated from other patrons. Individuals in smoking areas must maintain a physical distance of 2 metres at all times and should avoid blowing smoke toward another person. Place signage about physical distancing around designated smoking areas.


Bar and merchandise services


Congregation of patrons for bar services, or to purchase merchandise or tickets, should be minimised to the extent possible, for example by allowing patrons to pre-order or order electronically and creating separate areas within your venue for these services. To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing:


  • promote the purchase of electronic tickets away from the venue

  • where possible, limit the number of workers behind service counters to comply with the 4 square metre ‘rule’

  • limit access to behind the counter areas, including any storage areas, to essential staff only. If reasonably practicable, consider separating staff into ‘groups’ according to where they work. For example, food and beverage counter staff should only interact with other food and beverage counter staff to the extent possible

  • implement measures to restrict customer numbers in service areas in accordance with 4 square metres per person. Ensure patrons can access bar areas while maintaining physical distancing and implementing customer queuing outside the service area with floor markings to identify 2 metres distance

  • consider assigning a staff member to manage queues and customer access and egress during busier times

  • use separate doors for patron entry and exit, if practicable, to avoid contact between people. If this is not possible, use other control measures, such as markings on the ground to direct the movement/flow of patrons

  • adapt menus and pricelists to avoid patrons having to share physical menus or congregate by posting online or by erecting large signs. Wherever possible, use electronic or contactless payment methods and consider allowing patrons to order and pay from their seat to minimise movement

  • if you offer online or phone ordering and payment, take extra steps to promote this option to reduce face to face interaction at the premises. Notify patrons only when their orders are ready for collection and request patrons do not arrive prior to that time

  • consider using physical barriers where possible, such as installing a plexiglass barrier at the counter and using stanchion and rope barriers to separate customers as they queue

  • set up different areas for ordering and collection – e.g. consider designating an order counter and pick-up counter

  • place signs around customer ordering and waiting areas and create wall or floor markings to identify 2 metres distance

  • if changing the physical layout of the service areas is part of your measures, your layout must allow for staff and patrons 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


For more advice about maintaining physical distancing between staff behind counter areas, see our information on physical distancing in the Hospitality Industry.


Back of house


‘Back of house’ or ‘rear of house’ is the term used to refer to the parts of a venue the public cannot access, such as the stage and backstage areas as well as make up, costume and dressing rooms.

Where it is not reasonably practicable to implement physical distancing measures, you will need to consider other measures to ensure the safety of your workers and others. Contact your provincial or state OHS regulator for advice. Limit contact between workers. For example, where possible:


  • make any reasonable adjustments to scripts or choreography to minimise contact between performers – for example, cease on-stage kissing, hugging, as well as lifts or othered partnered choreography which cannot be done safely while physical distancing

  • if onstage improvisation occurs, provide guidance and limits to ensure performers maintain physical distance

  • schedule rehearsals so performers can socially distance in rehearsal spaces, change rooms and facilities and allow sufficient time for cleaning

  • spread out or remove sets, props and equipment on stage, to increase distancing

  • set up instruments so that musicians can maintain physical distance

  • consider ‘grouping’ workers that will have the most interaction with each other together and advising the ‘groups’ to minimise interaction outside of their group. For example, group performers who appear together


In musical performances limit contact between workers by:


  • allowing sufficient space between equipment and instruments on stage to ensure performers can remain 2 meters apart while performing

  • use floor markings to assist performers to maintain distance

  • if the performance space does not allow appropriate performer distancing (for example, if performers would usually be in an orchestra pit), identify alternative spaces in the venue that can be used instead or an alternative venue that can be used


If you have technicians, such as audio and lighting engineers:


  • existing site inductions should be revised to include the physical distancing policies at your venue

  • if reasonably practicable, consider grouping bump in and bump out crew into smaller groups to set up and ‘close up’ the stage after the show or if not reasonably practicable, group all bump in and bump out crew together and encourage them to only interact with each other to the extent possible

  • encourage sound staff, lighting staff and others with designated areas and equipment where they carry out their role to stay in that area and not undertake non-essential interactions with other staff. Similarly, ensure only essential staff enter the sound and lighting areas


You must ensure your physical distancing measures do not introduce unsafe working conditions for crew. Consider other safety measures if possible, for example trolleys or lifting devices for heavy equipment. It will not always be possible for workers and others to keep 2 metres apart at all times at the workplace. For example, workers may have to work closely because of the nature of the task and some tasks require workers to be in close proximity to be carried out safely. If close contact with others is unavoidable, you must implement additional control measures to minimise the risks (e.g. rotating performers more frequently to limit the total amount of close contact).


Staff gatherings and training


You must provide workers with any training, instruction and supervision necessary to implement the safety measures you have introduced, for example physical distancing requirements. However, consider how this can be provided safely. If possible, postpone or cancel non-essential gatherings, meetings or training. If gatherings, meetings or training are essential:


  • use non face-to-face options – 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 it 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


Deliveries, contractors and visitors attending the workplace


  • non-essential visits to the workplace should be cancelled or postponed

  • contact your delivery suppliers and understand the systems in place for identifying if their employees are unwell and what actions are taken

  • develop a plan for deliveries to minimise the interaction of delivery drivers with workers and patrons and communicate this to delivery suppliers, drivers and employees

  • minimise 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 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 sanitised before use. For pens, you may wish to use your own


On-going review and monitoring


  • if physical distancing measures introduce new health and safety risks (e.g. because staff are delivering orders to waiting patrons in vehicles outside the premises or they impact communication or mean that less people are doing a task), you need to manage those risks too

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


My workers cannot maintain a physical distance of 2 metres when performing work. Does this mean they cannot perform work?


It will not always be possible for workers and patrons to keep 2 metres apart at all times at the workplace. For example, workers may have to work closely with each other or others because of the nature of the task and some tasks require workers to be in close proximity to be carried out safely, such as when moving heavy equipment, makeup artists applying makeup to a performer, or when more than one worker is required in a sound booth.


Working in close contact increases the risk of workers being exposed to COVID-19. You must consider whether the work task must be completed or could be rescheduled to a later date. If the task must be completed and your workers, others (such as patrons) will be in close contact, you must undertake a risk assessment to determine what control measures are reasonably practicable in the circumstances to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks from COVID-19. For example, if close contact with others is unavoidable, you must implement other control measures such as:


  • minimising the number of people within an area at any time. Limit access to the workplace or parts of the workplace to essential workers and patrons only

  • moving work tasks to different areas of the workplace if possible

  • considering separating workers into dedicated teams and have them work the same shift or work in a particular area, and

  • ensuring each worker has their own equipment or tools


Do I need to provide personal protective equipment to workers who are in close contact with each other?


You must ensure workers comply with physical distancing requirements where possible. In circumstances where the nature of the task requires workers and patrons or workers to be in close contact, you must put control measures in place that minimise the time workers spend with each other or with patrons in the workplace. You must also ensure workers and patrons are practicing good hygiene.


If you have a situation where, despite other control measures, workers will be in close contact with each other or with patrons for longer than the recommended time (i.e more than 15 minutes face-to-face cumulative over the course of a week or more than 2 hours in a shared closed space), consider the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and a mask. Workers must be trained in the proper use of PPE. Be aware of OHS risks that may arise as a result of workers using and wearing PPE.


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 workloads e.g. supermarket home delivery drivers doing more deliveries and longer hours

  • increased time at work e.g. additional shifts as production moves 24/7 to meet increased demands

  • increased workload e.g. because of increased cleaning requirements or reduction of workers in workplace due to physical distancing requirements

  • work required to adjust to rapid change e.g. buying new equipment or setting up new procedures


Low support and isolated work


  • working from home or isolation from others due to physical distancing or isolation requirements results in feelings of not being supported

  • reduction in number of workers at workplace completing physical tasks to maintain physical distancing requirements

  • failure (perceived or real) of employers not implementing new policies and procedure to address new working arrangements


Poor workplace relationships


  • increased risk of workplace bullying, aggression and harassment as pandemic continues

  • workplace racism, discrimination, or stigma, including towards those that have had COVID-19 or are perceived to be a greater risk to others

  • deterioration of workplace relationships as competing demands lead to less regular and effective two-way communication

  • decreased opportunity for workplace social connections and interactions


Poor organisational change management


  • lack of planning as a result of the pace of the pandemic

  • continual restructures to address the effects of COVID-19 and a corresponding failure to provide information and training, consulting and communicating with or supporting workers (eg. manufacturing companies making different products or redeploying staff to meet changes in demand)

  • insufficient consideration of the potential OHS and performance impacts due to COVID-19


Increased emotional distress


  • limitations on workers offering the same assistance to colleagues or clients they normally would or witnessing others’ distress in situations where they can’t access their normal services or support eg. a cancer ward in a hospital has restricted visitors to reduce the risk to patients. The nurses see their patients and family struggle with this isolation.


How can I eliminate and manage risks to psychological health?


You should manage psychosocial risks in the same way as physical risks. Eliminating or minimizing physical risks will also help to manage many psychosocial risks. See also our section about conducting Risk Assessments for COVID-19.


Tips for managing stress from COVID-19


  • regularly ask your workers how they are going and if anything is stressing them

  • where workers are distressed about the challenging conditions caused by the pandemic, acknowledge their feelings about the situation and reassure workers they are doing what they can in the circumstances  stay informed with information from official sources and regularly communicate or share this information with workers

  • consult your workers and representatives on any risks to their psychological health and physical health and safety

  • support innovations to address the psychosocial risks where you reasonably can

  • provide workers with a point of contact to discuss their concerns

  • make workplace information available in a central place

  • inform workers about their entitlements if they become unfit for work or have caring responsibilities

  • inform workers about their rights under OHS legislation, including the right to stop work in certain circumstances and the right not to be discriminated against or disadvantaged for raising work health and safety concerns in the workplace

  • proactively support workers who you identify to be more at risk of workplace psychological injury (e.g. frontline workers or those working from home), and

  • refer workers to appropriate work related mental health and wellbeing support services (such as employee assistance programs)


Non work-related causes of stress


There are things that may stress your workers during the COVID-19 pandemic which may not be work related. Even though you may not have legal obligations in relation to that stress, you should take this into account, and if you are able to, offer workers increased support and flexibility to get through this difficult time. These stressors could include some or all of the following:


  • financial stress e.g. from reduced hours, loss of employment (such as their own secondary employment or their partners)

  • balancing work and caring responsibilities e.g. from trying to work while also meeting the needs of children and others unable to attend their usual activities or care arrangements

  • concern for vulnerable family members/friends e.g. from concerns they might get the virus or increased emotional stress at not being able to visit and assist elderly relatives

  • change to activities that support good mental health e.g. reduced exercise because of closure of gyms, reduced holidays because of travel limitations and reduced social interactions


My workers are worried about catching coronavirus. What should I do?


You should talk to your workers and understand more about their concerns. Once you understand their concerns, ensure you are doing all you reasonably can to eliminate and manage those concerns. For some workers, being more informed about COVID-19 may help ease their concerns. Provide them with relevant information on COVID-19 and remind them of all the measures you are taking in the workplace to reduce possible exposure. You should also remind them of all the services that are available to them for support (e.g. your employee assistance program). It might also be helpful for them to talk to their treating medical practitioners, such as their GP.


What can I do about customer aggression and the stress it’s causing my workers?


See our information on Violence @ Work.


My staff are working from home. How do I look after their mental health?


The duties under the OHS legislation apply to all workplaces, including where a worker is working from home. When you consider the risks to your workers' psychological health and the control measures you will implement to eliminate or minimise those hazards, you need to do this for all your workplaces, including home workplaces. The same things may lead to stress working from home as at the usual workplace, but the controls you put in place may need adjusting (e.g. you might replace a regular staff morning tea, with a weekly email update or videoconference to keep people connected). Where workers are working from home you should consider the tasks you have asked workers to perform from home and whether doing these in relative isolation could cause stress, and what you can do to minimise that stress.


Before you implement any control measures for working from home, you must consult your staff about how they are going, anything that is stressing them and what you can do to minimise that stress. For those working from home, it might be particularly helpful to consult individually, although that may not always be possible. What is essential though, is that there is regular and meaningful communication with your staff, including by telephone and videoconference where you can. Make sure you frequently check in on how they are going and if anything has changed. You should also make sure they know who to talk to if they need additional support or are feeling concerned. See also our information on Working from Home.


What should I do about bullying, harassment and strained relationships in the workplace?


Talk to your workers, identify whether there is anything in their work that is causing strain, for example competing business demands. If possible, address the cause of the strain before it damages working relationships. If bullying, has occurred, follow your bullying policy. You can manage the risk of workplace bullying by taking a proactive approach to identify early, any unreasonable behaviour and situations likely to increase the risk of workplace bullying occurring. You should implement control measures to manage these risks, and monitor and review the effectiveness of these measures. This could include activities such as:


  • regularly consulting with workers and health and safety representatives to find out if bullying is occurring or if there are factors likely to increase the risk of workplace bullying

  • setting the standard of workplace behaviour, for example through a code of conduct or workplace bullying policy

  • designing safe systems of work by clearly defining jobs and providing workers with the resources, information and training they need to carry out their work safely

  • implementing workplace bullying reporting and response procedures

  • developing productive and respectful workplace relationships through good management practices and effective communication

  • providing information and training on workplace bullying policies and procedures, available support and assistance, and how to prevent and respond to workplace bullying

  • prioritising measures that foster and protect the psychological health of employees


Your provincial or state OHS regulator can provide support and advice on how to manage the risks in your business.


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.


Masks

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.

Both the Canadian and US government health departments does not generally recommend the wearing of face masks by healthy people in the community. However, there may be occasions when it is recommended that the general public wear face masks where there is community transmission and physical distancing is difficult to maintain. The main benefit of wearing a mask is to protect others. If the person wearing the mask is unknowingly infected, wearing a mask will reduce the chances of them passing the virus on to others.


Some provinces and states have issued directions about wearing face masks in public and other specific settings. This is based on the local situation. It is important that you keep up to date with recommendations and directions that apply nationally, and in your province or state, and ensure that these are followed at your workplace.


Face masks, in combination with other personal protective equipment, can be an effective control measure for workers when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing from symptomatic people (for example, health care and aged care). The type of face mask used will depend on the setting. For example, respirator face masks (P2 or N95) are usually only required for health care workers when carrying out clinical procedures that generate aerosols. Wearing a face mask may also be appropriate in some non-health care settings or workplaces. For example,


  • in the cleaning industry if a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 is in the area to be cleaned (e.g. a hotel room), or

  • where directed or recommended by the province or state (e.g. under public health orders or in areas where there is community transmission)


Where face masks are provided at the workplace, workers must be trained in how to fit, use and dispose of them appropriately.


What are surgical masks?


Surgical masks are loose-fitting, generally disposable masks that form a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and the immediate environment. Surgical masks do not achieve a close seal to the wearer's face, however are useful in limiting the spread of large particles/droplets from an infected person (such as cough or sneeze spray). Single use surgical masks are designed for medical settings and are appropriate for most health care scenarios.


What are cloth masks?


A cloth mask is a nose and mouth covering made from a washable fabric such as cotton or denim. Cloth masks may be recommended for wearing by the general public where there is community transmission and where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing. It is recommended that cloth masks be properly constructed to ensure they provide adequate protection and are handled and washed appropriately.


What are high particulate respirator (P2 or N95) masks?


P2 and N95 masks are designed to help reduce respiratory exposure to airborne contaminants. They are used when there is a high probability of transmission from particles or droplets in the air. P2 and N95 masks must have a good facial fit to be effective. Workers must be trained in how to fit, use and dispose of P2 and N95 masks.


For COVID-19, P2 or N95 masks should only be used in health care settings in certain circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for P2 masks. This extra demand is leading to fake respiratory protective equipment entering both the Canadian and US market. Contact your local OHS regulator for key things to check to ensure that masks meet the required standards and what to do if you come across a mask that is not fit for purpose.


Do I need to provide masks to workers?


For most businesses, there will be no need to provide face masks. Both the Canadian and US government health departments does not generally recommend the wearing of face masks by healthy people in the community. In many cases, providing face masks as a control measure against COVID-19 is only required in health care and certain other settings. However, it may be recommended that the general public wear face masks where there is community transmission and it is difficult to maintain physical distancing. It is important that you keep up to date with the recommendations and directions that apply nationally, and in your province or state, and ensure that these are followed at your workplace.


If you decide you want your workers to wear face masks, you must provide them. You must also provide appropriate training and instruction on how to put on, wear, remove and dispose of the mask. Fit checking is very important to ensure that the mask is effective. Information about using a mask is provided by the manufacturer. It is also important to maintain good hand hygiene and physical distancing even if you choose to provide a face mask for your workers. If a worker has been provided training and instruction about using a mask, they must comply with that training and those instructions.


Single-use surgical masks or properly constructed cloth masks may be used. To ensure their effectiveness, surgical masks must be replaced frequently. Cloth masks must be regularly and thoroughly washed and dried.


Can I direct a worker to wear a face mask?


You can direct a worker to wear a face mask if you, in consultation with those workers, decide it necessary to minimise the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Both the Canadian and US government health departments does not generally recommend the wearing of face masks by healthy people in the community. However, there may be occasions when it is recommended that the general public wear face masks where there is community transmission and physical distancing is difficult to maintain. The main benefit of wearing a mask is to protect other people. If the person wearing the mask is unknowingly infected, wearing a mask will also reduce the chance of them passing the virus on to others.


It is important that you keep up to date with the recommendations and directions that apply nationally, and in your province or state, and ensure that these are followed at your workplace. Be aware that the inappropriate or incorrect use of face masks may increase the risk of COVID-19 and may result in new OHS risks. Workers required to wear a mask must be trained in how to wear, remove and dispose of masks, including performing good hand hygiene (washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds) before fitting the mask and before and after taking it off. Masks also need to be replaced frequently and if multi-use stored correctly, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.


You will need to ensure that appropriate facilities are provided if masks are used at the workplace. This includes appropriate hand washing facilities and a closed bin to dispose of used masks. Single-use surgical masks may be a good option for most workplaces. However, properly constructed cloth masks may be considered if they are replaced frequently and appropriate laundering arrangements are in place.

Masks on their own will not control the COVID-19 virus. As with all other PPE, masks must be used in conjunction with other control measures such as good hand hygiene (washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds) and physical distancing – keeping everyone at the workplace at least 2 metres physically apart.


Can I direct a worker not to wear a mask?


Both the Canadian and US government health departments does not generally recommend the wearing of face masks by healthy people in the community. However, there may be occasions when it is recommended that the general public wear face masks where there is community transmission and physical distancing is difficult to maintain. The main benefit of wearing a mask is to protect other people. If the person wearing the mask is unknowingly infected, wearing a mask will also reduce the chance of them passing the virus on to others. Some workers may want to wear a mask even if you decide that it is an unnecessary control measure for your workplace.


This is a stressful time for everyone and some workers may be wearing the mask because they feel unsure or anxious about their health. You should consult with workers on this issue and find out why they want to wear a mask at work. You should also inform workers of the control measures that have been implemented in the workplace to minimise the workers' exposure to the COVID-19 virus.


Whether you can direct an employee not to wear a mask will depend on whether the direction is permitted by the relevant OHS legislation or is otherwise lawful and reasonable. This will need to be determined on a case by case basis depending on the circumstances. However, if your worker is working on their own at home and using their own masks, it is unlikely the direction would be reasonable. Similarly, if the worker is a frontline health worker, you must not direct them not to wear an appropriate face mask.


The important thing is that you have actively considered whether a mask is an appropriate control measure in minimising exposure to the COVID-19 virus and have done so in consultation with workers, in accordance with any government advice, and in combination with other reasonably practicable, known control measures such as good hand hygiene (washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds) and physical distancing – keeping everyone at the workplace at least 2 metres physically apart.


How do I put on, remove and dispose of a face mask?


If a face mask is going to be used at the workplace, you must provide workers with instruction and training on how to use them safely. Instructions for effective use of a face mask will be provided by the manufacturer. You should always follow the instructions for use and storage of face masks. Disposable face masks should only be used once and then disposed of appropriately (refer to 'How to dispose of a face mask' below). They should also be replaced if they become soiled or damp. The manufacturer will provide details on how to put on and take off your face mask. If you do not have these, you can follow the instructions below. If workers are also wearing gloves, they will need to put their mask on before their gloves.


How to put on a face mask


  1. clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water (for a minimum of 20 seconds) or hand sanitiser before touching the mask or removing it from its packaging. Dry your hands and make sure you do not touch any surfaces (like opening a door) before you handle the mask

  2. remove the mask from its packaging and make sure the mask has no obvious tears, holes or faults. Avoid touching the front of the mask

  3. identify the top of the mask (generally it has a stiff bendable edge that will mould to the shape of your nose) and the front of the mask (normally a mask is coloured on the front) with the white side towards your face

  4. if your mask has ear loops, hold the mask by the ear loops and place a loop around each ear. If your mask has ties bring the mask to nose level and place the ties over the crown of your head and tie with a bow (leave the bottom set of ties at this time)

  5. if your mask has a band, hold the mask in your hands with the nose piece or top of the mask at your fingertips, the headbands will hang loosely below your hands, then bring the mask to your nose level and pull the top strap over your head to rest on the crown of your head, then pull the bottom strap all the way over your head to rest at the nape of your neck

  6. pinch the stiff nose piece to the shape of your nose

  7. if your face mask has ties take the bottom ties (one in each hand) and tie at the nape of your neck with a bow

  8. adjust the bottom of the mask over your mouth and under your chin


How to remove a face mask


  1. clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water (for a minimum of 20 seconds) or hand sanitiser before touching the mask. Dry your hands and avoid touching the front of the mask

  2. if you are wearing gloves you should remove your gloves and wash your hands before removing your mask. See our information on Gloves for how to remove your gloves

  3. only touch the ear loops, ties or bands

  4. if your mask has ear loops hold both of the ear loops and gently lift and pull the mask away from you and away from your face

  5. if your mask has ties untie the bottom bow first (at the nape of your neck), then untie the top bow and pull the mask away from your face as the ties are loosened

  6. if your mask has bands lift the bottom strap over your head first, then pull the top strap over your head and pull the mask away from you and away from your face

  7. appropriately dispose of the face mask (refer below)

  8. clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water (for a minimum of 20 seconds) or hand sanitiser


How to dispose of a face mask


Unless contaminated, masks can be disposed of with the general waste, preferably a closed bin. A closed bin is a bin with a fitted lid. Where the mask is contaminated it should be disposed of in a closed bin, preferably one that does not need to be touched to place a contaminated mask inside. A bin with a foot pedal or other hands-free mechanism to open the lid would be appropriate. The bin for contaminated masks should contain two bin liners to ensure the waste is double bagged. Double bagging minimises any exposure to the person disposing of the waste.


A mask would be considered contaminated if it:


  • has been worn by a symptomatic worker or visitor to the workplace, or

  • has been worn by a close contact of a confirmed COVID case, or

  • is visibly soiled or damp


Where a closed bin is not available, the contaminated mask should be placed in a sealed bag (e.g. a ziplock bag) before disposal into the bin.  The sealed bag and a single bin liner are considered equivalent to double bagging. It is important to follow good hand hygiene after removing and disposing of your mask. If you have a case of COVID-19 in the workplace, your province or state health authority should provide you with advice on what you need to do in your workplace. Follow their instructions.


Can face masks that are past their shelf life date be used?


Generally it is recommend not using face masks that are past their shelf life. However, if there is low supply and high demand, masks can be used by if they are past their shelf life if:


  • the ear loops, ties or bands are intact

  • there are no signs of visible damage, and

  • they can be fit tested


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.


Working from Home

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.

You should check any relevant advice from your province or state regarding working from home in response to COVID-19. Whether working from home is reasonably practicable will depend on the specifics of the workplace, the facilities available for workers to work remotely and the ability for workers to do their work safely from home.


In deciding whether working from home is appropriate for your workers, in consultation with workers and their representatives, you should consider:


  • the individual worker's role

  • whether the worker is in a vulnerable person category for contracting the virus (see our information on Vulnerable Workers)

  • suitability of work activities

  • workflows and expectations

  • workstation set up

  • surrounding environment such as ventilation, lighting and noise

  • home environment, such as partners, children, vulnerable persons and pets

  • communication requirement such as frequency and type

  • mental health and wellbeing of the worker

  • safe working procedures and training requirements, and

  • potential risk of infection on journeys to and from the workplace


Under OHS legislation, each employer has a duty of care for the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace. This duty extends to identifying and managing the risks of exposure to the COVID-19 virus and putting appropriate controls in place in every workplace where the employer engages workers to carry out work or directs or influences workers in carrying out work. If work can be completed at home, and the risks that arise from working remotely can be effectively managed, encouraging or directing workers to work from home may be the best way to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19.


Any existing workplace policies on working from home would apply to arrangements implemented as part of the COVID-19 response. You may need to vary your policies to reflect the broader requirements of the COVID-19 situation such as the ability to work from home while also caring for children. As with all work health and safety matters, you must consult with your workers and any elected Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) on working from home arrangements.


Whether working at the office or at home, a worker has the right to stop or refuse unsafe work when there is a reasonable concern of exposure to a serious risk to health and safety from an immediate or imminent hazard. In some circumstances, this could include exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Any concerns about health or safety should first be raised with you or the HSR. A worker may also contact a union for advice. If a worker decides to stop work as it is unsafe, they must notify you as soon as possible and be available to carry out alternative work arrangements.


What must I do when workers are working from home?


OHS legislation still applies if workers work somewhere other than their usual workplace, for example, from home. You have duties to ensure the health and safety of your workers, even if they are working from home. What you can do to minimise risks at a worker's home may be different to what you can do at the usual workplace. However, in consultation with workers and their representatives, you should:


  • provide guidance on what is a safe home office environment, including what a good workstation setup looks like, why workers should not be sedentary all day and how to avoid this

  • allow workers to borrow any necessary work station equipment from the office to take to the home as agreed

  • require workers to familiarize themselves and comply with good ergonomic practices, consistent with any workplace policies and procedures, for example requiring workers to complete a workstation self-assessment checklist and provide their responses to you

  • maintain regular communication with workers

  • provide access to information and support for mental health and wellbeing services. You may have an existing employee assistance program (EAP) you can promote, and

  • appoint a contact person in the business who workers can talk to about any concerns related to working from home


You must also think about, and consult your workers, on how your existing policies and procedures apply when working from home, including:


  • notification of incidents, injuries, hazards and changes in circumstances

  • consultation and review of work health and safety processes, and

  • attendance, timesheets, leave and other entitlements and arrangements


If necessary, employers may consult workers for an inspection of the worker’s home work environment to ensure it meets health and safety requirements. This can be achieved through virtual means such as photos or video to avoid the need for a physical inspection.


In many cases, given the types of risks associated with the activities to be undertaken, an inspection will not be required. Depending on the complexity of the potential risks involved, you may need to engage the services of a health and safety professional to assess the risks to a worker working from home.


What are the OHS risks of working from home?


Working from home may change, increase or create work health or safety risks. You must consult with workers before you implement control measures to address these risks. It is also important to review and monitor whatever arrangements are put in place to ensure that these arrangements do not create any additional risks.


Some key considerations that may affect the OHS risks of workers working from home or remotely include:


  • pre-existing injuries the worker may have

  • communication frequency and type between the employer and worker

  • management of the work program, workload, activities and working hours

  • surrounding work environment

  • workstation set up, such as desk, chair, monitors, keyboard, mouse and computer

  • work practices and physical activity

  • mental health and wellbeing of the worker, and

  • other responsibilities the worker may have such as facilitating online learning for children or a caring role


You must do what you reasonably can to manage the risks to a worker who works from home. However, workers also have health and safety obligations to minimise risks when working from home including:


  • following procedures about how work is performed

  • using equipment provided by the workplace as per the instructions given and is not damaged or misused

  • maintaining a safe work environment, such as designated work area, moving furniture to ensure comfortable access, providing adequate lighting and ventilation, repairing any uneven surfaces or removing trip hazards

  • managing their own in-house safety, such as maintaining electrical equipment and installing and maintaining smoke alarms

  • notifying the employer about risks or potential risks and hazards, and

  • reporting any changes that may affect their health and safety when working from home


Mental health risks and working from home


The COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful and uncertain time for everyone. Working from home, particularly for the first time, can create additional risks to mental health. The OHS duties apply to both physical health and mental health. This means that employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure the mental health of their workers and protect their workers from psychological risks.


Working from home can have psychological risks that are different to the risks in an office or your regular workplace. A psychosocial hazard is anything in the design or management of work that causes stress. Some psychosocial hazards that may impact a worker’s mental health while working from home include:


  • being isolated from managers, colleagues and support networks

  • less support, for example workers may feel they don’t have the normal support they receive from their supervisor or manager

  • changes to work demand, for example the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a move to working at home may create higher workloads for some workers and reduced workloads for others

  • low job control

  • not having clear boundaries between home-life and work-life

  • fatigue

  • poor environmental conditions, for example an ergonomically unsound work station or high noise levels, and

  • poor organisational change management, for example workers may feel they haven’t been consulted about the changes to their work


Working from home may also impact a worker’s mental health in other ways, such as from changed family demands. For example, home schooling school-aged children who are learning from home, relationship strain or family and domestic violence.


Looking after the mental health of workers at home


You must eliminate or minimize the risk to psychological health and safety arising from work as far as is reasonably practicable, including when your workers are working from home. You must consult with workers and HSRs on psychosocial hazards they may face and how to manage them. Workers often know what the issues are and have ideas about how to manage them. You must also review how you’re managing the risks to check your policies and processes are effective.


Good communication with your workers is especially important when they are working from home. It is important that you have regular and clear communication with your workers to set realistic and clear instructions on workloads, roles and tasks, to monitor work levels and to check that work can be successfully completed from home without creating any additional safety risks. Adjust any work tasks and ways of working as appropriate.


Steps you must take to manage risks to your workers’ mental health where reasonably practicable include:


  • providing information about mental health and other support services available to your workers (you may have an existing employee assistance programs you can refer workers to)

  • maintaining regular communication with your workers and encouraging workers to stay in contact with each other

  • staying informed with information from official sources and sharing relevant information with your workers and HSRs as it becomes available

  • offering your workers flexibility, such as with their work hours, where possible

  • making sure workers are effectively disengaging from their work and logging off at the end of the day

  • responding appropriately to signs a worker may be struggling, e.g. changed behaviour

  • informing workers about their entitlements if they become unfit for work or have caring responsibilities

  • eliminating or minimising physical risks, and

  • providing workers with a point of contact to discuss their concerns and to find workplace information in a central place including HSRs


Who is responsible for ensuring that my workers have a safe workstation set up to work from home?


Under current OHS legislation, you have a duty of care for the health and safety of your workers and others at the workplace. This includes where your worker is working from home. You must consult with workers and take all reasonable steps to ensure their workstations are correctly setup to reduce potential musculoskeletal injuries.


Workers also have a duty to take care for their own health and safety, which includes while working from home, and must follow any reasonable policies or directions their employer gives them. You and your workers share responsibility for ensuring a safe workstation set up. To ensure your workers’ workstation set up is safe, you should:


  • provide guidance on what is a safe home office environment, including setting up an ergonomic workstation, why workers should not be sedentary all day, and how to avoid this

  • require workers to familiarize themselves and comply with good ergonomic practices, for example by requiring workers to complete a workstation self-assessment checklist and provide their responses to you

  • provide a health and safety checklist for working from home for workers to use, for example checking for trip hazards in the work space

  • consider organizing a workstation assessment by a competent person where practicable, allow workers to borrow equipment, such as chairs, monitors, keyboards and mouses, from the office or reimburse them reasonable costs for purchasing any required equipment, and

  • have ongoing discussion with your workers regarding their workstation set up


Workers must follow reasonable policies or directions set by you. This may include completing workstation checklists and following any other reasonable safety policies and directions you give them. As with any other work environment, workers must inform you of any work-related incidents or injuries that occur while working at home and are encouraged to report health and safety concerns to you and their HSR.


What do I need to do about home workstation setups?


You must eliminate or minimise risks to the health and safety of your workers, so far as is reasonably practicable. While you have less control over a worker’s home, you must still consult with workers and HSRs and take steps to reduce work health and safety risks of workstations as much as possible (with available and suitable solutions). To minimise the risk of a worker sustaining a musculoskeletal injury while working from home, you could:


  • organize a virtual workstation assessment

  • have ongoing discussion with your workers about their workstation setup

  • provide a health and safety checklist when working from home for your workers to use

  • provide a workstation self-assessment checklist and health and safety checklist for your workers follow

  • provide your workers with information on setting up an ergonomic workstation, and

  • allow workers to borrow equipment, such as chairs, monitors, keyboards and mouses, from the office or reimburse them reasonable costs for purchasing any required equipment

  • monitor to ensure the workstation set up is not creating additional risks and the need for any additional equipment, and

  • in undertaking safety checks you should ensure workers have access to first aid based on an assessment of their duties and home work environment


Am I required to provide my workers with equipment to enable them to work safely from home?


You must identify and manage any risks to workers working from home. Undertaking a risk assessment will assist you to determine what is reasonably required to keep workers safe. It may not be reasonably practicable to conduct a physical inspection of your workers’ home, but there are other ways you can assess the risks, including by requiring workers to complete a workstation and health and safety checklist that you may discuss with them.


You may determine that it is practicable to allow workers to borrow equipment from the office or reimburse reasonable costs. You and your workers must discuss what equipment may be required for the worker to safely carry out their work as early as possible during the workstation set up and continue to monitor their ongoing equipment needs throughout the time they are working from home. If you are not satisfied that a safe workstation can be created, it may not be reasonably practicable for the worker to work from home. In these circumstances, alternative arrangements may need to be made. This could include setting up a safe office space for the worker in the office and flexible work hours to minimize contact between workers.


What are my obligations to my workers to ensure that they have suitable breaks and work reasonable hours while working from home?


You must ensure workers continue to access their workplace entitlements, including breaks, standard hours and any agreed to flexible work arrangements. You should consider whether any existing workplace policies and procedures need to be revisited in light of the COVID pandemic and increased working from home arrangements.


I have workers working from home who are also caring for, and educating, their school aged children who are unable to attend school. What are my obligations towards these workers?


Good communication between you and your workers is especially important when workers are working from home. You should ensure your workers are aware of any working from home and carer policies that apply to your workplace. Workers may also wish to discuss their entitlements to carers leave and other relevant forms of leave. Workers may wish to share tips on balancing work and caring responsibilities with others. Tool box discussions and team meetings can be a great place to share this information in a friendly environment. This might include tips on how workers have managed to balance their caring arrangements with their partner, where available.


How can I support my workers who are finding working from home stressful and it is negatively impacting their mental health?


You must eliminate or minimize the risk to psychological health and safety arising from work as far as is reasonably practicable, including when your workers are working from home. Good communication with your workers is especially important when they are working from home. You must consult with workers and HSRs on psychosocial hazards they may face and how to manage them. Workers often know what the issues are and have ideas about how to manage them. You must also review how you’re managing the risks to check your policies and processes are effective.


There are a range of resources available to workers to support workers’ mental health. These include:


Canada


Government of Canada - Mental health tips for working from home

Mental Health Commission of Canada - Mental health and wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic

Canadian Mental Health Association - 6 tips to respond to employee anxiety about COVID-19

Canadian Mental Health Association - COVID-19 and mental health

Canadian Psychological Association - Working from Home During COVID, With and Without Children

MyWorkplaceHealth - COVID-19: How to cope with social distancing and working from home


United States


American Psychiatric Association Foundation - Working Remotely During COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Coping with Stress - COVID-19

American Psychiatric Association (APA) - APA Coronavirus Resources

American Medical Association (AMA) - Managing mental health during COVID-19

Mayo Clinic - COVID-19 and your mental health


There are also a number of practical steps that can help. These include:


  • ensuring workers have the contact details for the relevant Employee Assistance Program

  • maintaining regular communication

  • supporting flexible work arrangements, where available, and

  • ensuring workers effectively disengage from work and log off at the end of the day.


One of my workers has contracted COVID-19 while working from home. What should I do?


If you have a worker who has contracted COVID-19 you will need to follow the health advice provided by your public health authority. You should discuss leave arrangements with your worker and determine if the worker has had contact with any other workers while they were infectious. Workers who have been isolated after having tested positive for COVID-19 can return to work when they have fully recovered and have met the criteria for clearance from isolation. The criteria may vary depending on circumstances of the workplace, the province or state as they may manage clearance from isolation differently. Clearance may be by the public health authority or the persons treating clinician.


It is possible that a worker with COVID-19 could potentially work from home, if for example, they have no or minor symptoms. This would be subject to the advice from the relevant treating clinician and discussions with the worker. For example, a doctor may recommend reasonable adjustments, including reduced working hours or changes to a worker’s workload. Contact your province or state helpline for further advice.


When should workers return to the workplace?


Before workers return to their usual workplace you must ensure your proposed arrangements are consistent with the latest advice from public health authorities. You will also need to undertake a risk assessment and consult with workers and HSRs before workers return to the usual workplace. This risk assessment will need to include consideration of current national, provincial and state government on physical distancing and whether your workplace can support all your workers returning at the same time while meeting those requirements.


You may consider options for staging a return to the workplace, to ensure that physical distancing requirements are met in accordance with Government advice. As part of your risk assessment you must consider vulnerable workers and ensure that they are not put at risk by a direction to return to the workplace. Pending your risk assessment, it may be that vulnerable workers should remain in a working from home arrangement for a longer duration that those workers who are not vulnerable. You are also required under the OHS legislation to consult with your workers and any HSRs about any direction to return workers to the workplace. Finally, you should keep up to date with the latest health and national, provincial and state government advice on COVID-19.


Can I direct my workers back to the usual workplace?


Whether or not you can reasonably direct workers back to the workplace will depend on a number of factors, including public health requirements and the individual circumstances of the worker working from home. Workers must follow any reasonable policies or directions you put in place in response to COVID-19. You must consult with workers and HSRs prior to decisions being made to return to the workplace. You must also ensure return to work arrangements adhere to relevant national, provincial and state government advice (eg. physical distancing requirements).


Where circumstances change, for example it is no longer safe for a worker to continue working from home due to a change in the worker’s home situation or the ability of the worker to continue working from home effectively, the worker may after appropriate consultation be directed to return to the workplace.

Before requiring workers to recommence work at their usual workplace you must, in consultation with workers and HSRs, have a plan to ensure the safe return to work for all workers.


Resources and support


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Cleaning

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.

COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can acquire the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.


A key way you can protect workers and others from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is by implementing appropriate cleaning and disinfecting measures for your workplace. A combination of cleaning and disinfection will be most effective in removing the COVID-19 virus. Workplaces must be cleaned at least daily. Cleaning with detergent and water is usually sufficient.  Once clean, surfaces can be disinfected. When and how often your workplace should be disinfected will depend on the likelihood of contaminated material being present. You should prioritise cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that many people touch.

Alternatively, you may be able to do a 2-in-1 clean and disinfection by using a combined detergent and disinfectant.


How to clean and disinfect


Cleaning means to physically remove germs (bacteria and viruses), dirt and grime from surfaces using a detergent and water solution. A detergent is a surfactant that is designed to break up oil and grease with the use of water. Anything labelled as a detergent will work. Disinfecting means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. It’s important to clean before disinfecting because dirt and grime can reduce the ability of disinfectants to kill germs. The following disinfectants are suitable for use on hard surfaces (that is, surfaces where any spilt liquid pools, and does not soak in): alcohol in a concentration of at least 70%, chlorine bleach in a concentration of 1000 parts per million, oxygen bleach, or wipes and sprays that contain quaternary ammonium compounds. These chemicals will be labelled as ‘disinfectant’ on the packaging and must be diluted or used following the instructions on the packaging to be effective.


As long as you use a disinfectant of the types described above, in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions, they will be effective. Cleaning should start with the cleanest surface first, progressively moving towards the dirtiest surface. When surfaces are cleaned, they should be left as dry as possible to reduce the risk of slips and falls, as well as spreading of viruses and bac