OHS Canada Magazine

Preparing to reopen, Ontario releases workplace safety guidelines

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April 30, 2020
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Human Resources Legislation COVID-19 Economy ontario Reopening Workplace Safety

Practical measures meant to keep staff, customers safe: premier

Ontario’s post-shutdown guidelines include physical distancing and changes to workplace environments. (Adobe Stock)

The Ontario government released workplace safety guidelines on Thursday, as the province prepares for an eventual reopening of the provincial economy.

The guidelines intend to provide direction to those working in manufacturing, food manufacturing and processing, restaurant and food service, as well as the agricultural sector.

They build on more than 60 guidelines developed by Ontario’s health and safety associations in response to COVID-19 for various sectors such as retail, health care, construction, transportation, police services, firefighters and transit employees.

“We all want to reopen our businesses, services and favourite places across the province, but we must do it in a safe and responsible way,” said Premier Doug Ford in a news release.

“That’s why we are providing clear guidelines to employers, with practical measures to help them keep staff and customers safe while preventing the spread of COVID-19. By taking these steps, we will be prepared to get people back to work when the time is right.”


The guidelines include:

  • ways to ensure appropriate physical distancing, such as eliminating pay-at-the-door options, holding team meetings outdoors, staggering shift times and using ground markings and barriers to manage traffic flow
  • changes to the workplace, like installing Plexiglas barriers, increasing air intake on building heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to increase air flow, and using boot sanitizing trays
  • promoting proper workplace sanitation, providing personal protective equipment, substituting dry dusting with vacuuming, ensuring customer-facing staff are given hand sanitizer, providing a place to dispose of sanitizing wipes, and enforcing handwashing before and after breaks.

Employers are able to download posters such as the above through the province’s website. (Ontario.ca)

The government is also issuing posters to promote a variety of useful safety tips, downloadable here.

The province has pledged to work with Ontario’s health and safety associations to bring forward additional workplace safety guidelines for more sectors in the near future.

Starting this week, 58 new inspectors will join the hundreds of existing provincial labour inspectors on the ground.

The inspectors, which include workers from the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) and the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), will be tasked with communicating COVID-19 safety guidelines to essential workplaces or enforcing emergency measures, including physical distancing and the closure of non-essential businesses.


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