OHS Canada Magazine

WorkSafeNB outlines four-step approach, tips for employers to safeguard against communicable disease spread

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November 28, 2023
By OHS Canada

Workers Compensation Communicable Diseases COVID-19 New Brunswick worksafenb

In response to the ongoing threat of communicable diseases, WorkSafeNB has unveiled a detailed plan to guide employers in safeguarding their workplaces across New Brunswick.

The Communicable Disease Prevention Plan: 4-Step Approach and Template is an initiative aimed at ensuring the health and safety of employees across various industries in the province. The agency also released Working Safely Amid COVID-19 and Other Communicable Diseases.

The plan, rooted in the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, demands that employers take every reasonable precaution to protect their workforce.

It lays out a four-pronged strategy: assessing risks specific to each workplace, implementing tailored measures and policies, communicating these effectively to all stakeholders, and continuously reviewing and updating these strategies to adapt to changing circumstances and risk levels.

Four step-approach

Assess the risk: Employers are advised to assess the risk of communicable disease transmission in their workplace, considering factors like job roles, workplace population, vaccination rates, and level of ventilation.


Implement measures, practices, and policies: Based on the risk assessment, employers are to develop a set of measures, practices, and policies, such as maintaining hygiene, adequate building ventilation, and implementing measures as directed by Public Health.

Communicate measures, practices, and policies: Keeping everyone informed is crucial. The plan advises on how to inform managers, supervisors, and all workers about the preventative measures and their responsibilities.

Continually evaluate and update the plan: The document emphasizes the importance of continually monitoring the risk of communicable diseases and revising the plan as necessary.

Working safely among communicable disease

The document Working Safely Amid COVID-19 and Other Communicable Diseases: Guide for New Brunswick Workplaces is a comprehensive resource aimed at guiding employers in New Brunswick to maintain safe working environments during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The guide, with its first version released on March 8, 2022, covers various aspects of workplace safety in the context of communicable diseases.

Key elements of the guide include:

Adapting to the pandemic: The guide acknowledges the significant changes brought about by COVID-19, emphasizing the need for workplaces to adapt to new norms like masks, physical distancing, and remote work.

Employer responsibilities: It reiterates the responsibility of employers to ensure the health and safety of anyone working in or visiting their workplace, including assessing risks and implementing appropriate measures.

Developing a communicable disease prevention plan: WorkSafeNB recommends every workplace to have a plan addressing prevention and response to outbreaks, with a four-step approach and template provided for assistance.

Involving staff: The guide stresses the importance of involving staff, health and safety committees, or representatives in developing and communicating the prevention plan.

Risk assessment: Employers are advised to continually assess the risk of communicable disease exposure and transmission in their workplace, considering factors like job roles, workplace population, staff vaccination rates, and ventilation.

Continual monitoring and adaptation: The guide emphasizes the need for ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of the prevention plan and adapting it as necessary.

Mental health support: Recognizing the mental health impacts of the pandemic, the guide advises employers to update staff regularly about health and safety changes, support time away from work for health needs, and provide access to counseling resources.

Workers’ rights and compensation: It covers the right of employees to refuse work they consider unsafe and the conditions under which COVID-19 or other communicable disease infections may be covered under Workers’ Compensation.

Resources and support: The document lists various resources and support systems available to workplaces, including WorkSafeNB, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.


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