Q&A: How the LCBO is coping through COVID-19
Tanya Bismayer discusses Ontario chain's prevention measures
By Marcel Vander Wier
Health & Safety
In March, companies across Canada were confronted with an unprecedented pandemic.
Here’s how Tanya Bismayer, manager of workplace health and wellness at LCBO in Toronto, has been leading her team through it.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
OHS Canada: What measures did you put in place at your organization to protect staff?
Tanya Bismayer: Across the organization, we’ve increased the frequency and requirements of our cleaning services in our warehouses, offices and stores and made sure all are supplied with hand sanitizer.
We also developed custom health and safety signage across each area of the business, which includes floor markings to help maintain physical distancing and posters to remind employees of best practices, such as frequent hand washing and sanitizing. To provide additional support, we have created a compassionate leave to provide financial support of up to four days of paid leave to all active LCBO employees, waived medical-note requirements, developed and made available a variety of health and well-being resources and created a dedicated COVID-19 employee safety website with the latest information available.
As our stores are our highest traffic areas, we’ve taken many steps to protect our frontline retail employees and customers. This includes the installation of Plexiglas barriers at open cash registers in more than 660 stores, providing retail staff with protective face shields and gloves and limiting the number of customers in-store at a time.
We also reduced store hours and operational days and allow employees to wear their own non-medical masks, if they wish to do so. Across our LCBO retail service centres and depots, we introduced a body temperature screening process with plans to implement this in other areas of the business as well.
What changes did you make to protect the health and safety of your customers in-store?
TB: To promote physical distancing and manage traffic flow, we created new signage and floor decals, and are limiting the number of customers in our stores at one time. We have also increased our cleaning practices and availability of hand sanitizer, including dedicating an employee to cleaning at stores where possible and sanitizing shopping carts before and after each use.
We have continued to leverage our social-media channels and consumer website during this time to share information with customers and remind them of the safety measures in place. We have been focused on providing customers with more shopping options including the expansion of our same-day pickup program where customers can purchase online and pick up in store, which limits the amount of time spent in-store.
Additionally, any customers who are sick, in isolation or returning from travel have been asked to refrain from visiting LCBO stores. If a customer self-identifies as in this category or makes remarks of having COVID-19 symptoms, staff have the right to refuse service and ask customers to leave the store.
Where did you look for guidance on establishing policy?
TB: The LCBO has been following recommendations of public-health agencies at the various levels of government — municipal, provincial and federal — to inform our decisions and establish new practices and policies. For additional best practices and guidance, we also look at other provinces, the Retail Council of Canada and similar retailers.