Ensuring COVID-19 Compliance with the MLTSD
As new variants of the COVID-19 virus make headlines across the globe, Ontario’s manufacturers should ensure that their existing health and safety standards are up-to-par, or face serious repercussions from the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skill Development.
Over the past two years, COVID-19 has been a major stressor in our lives, and manufacturing businesses nationwide have had to alter their production processes and operational activities in response to the pandemic’s impact. Greater vaccine availability and increased health and safety measures have played a role in keeping workers protected and productive, but, ultimately, business leaders are responsible for properly addressing the pandemic’s challenges in their workplace. Ontarian manufacturers must comply with both public health guidelines and the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skill Development’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, and need to ensure that they are taking the appropriate measures when adhering with this legislation.
The MLTSD requires employers to take all reasonable precautions when safeguarding their workplaces against COVID-19. As manufacturing facilities often require employees to work in close proximity to one another, the MLTSD has defined several actions that organizations must take to maintain health and safety standards. These include:
- Thorough and frequent cleaning and disinfection of the facility. Manufacturers are expected to establish a schedule to ensure that cleaning is performed at least twice as often as before the pandemic.
- Frequently-touched surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected several times per day (typically after usage and/or between shifts).
- Physical distancing, where possible, must be enforced. Where physical distancing cannot be enforced, protective eyewear is required.
- Medical-grade face coverings (which utilize multiple layers of fabric, ear loops, and a form-fitting structure) must be worn by all parties on-site.
- Employees must be screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms before entering their worksites.
- Resources for proper hand hygiene (including high-alcohol hand sanitizer, soap, hot water, etc.) must be provided and kept readily accessible at all times.
Each of these practices can help reduce and contain the spread of COVID-19. Employing a full spectrum of control measures will greatly enhance a business’s production efforts and ensure that they are in full compliance with legislative requirements. Identifying potential sources of COVID-19 infection within the workplace is key to employee safety. While many workers maintain strong health and safety practices at their posts, specific focus in areas where work isn’t performed, like cafeterias, break rooms, and washrooms should be considered. Precautions need to be followed throughout the facility, and leaders should ensure that their employees are provided the necessary information and resources for preventing viral contamination, no matter where they are. Areas which are frequented by members of the public — shipping bays, garages, and other spaces that see an influx of visitors from outside the company — are at high risk of bringing COVID-19 into otherwise well-protected locations. These areas should be given special consideration from the rest of a company’s operations and moderated to prevent breakthrough cases of infection. Maintaining high health and safety standards throughout all levels of an organization is vital, and these measures play an important role in the overall well-being of a manufacturing workforce.
By keeping their facilities safe, clean, and hygienic, manufacturers eliminate any chance of pandemic-related liability, and, most importantly, keep their employees healthy and happy.