Ontario COVID-19 Workplace Safety and Public Health Measures Gradually Lifting

Ontario is moving through the graduated Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term. Workplace safety measures and public health measures under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act (ROA) are gradually lifting, in the absence of concerning trends.

• Masking: As of March 21, 2022, masking will only be required for public transit and certain health care and congregate care settings. Masking requirements will be lifted for all other settings.
• Screening: As of March 21, 2022, screening of workers, patrons or clients is no longer required. This includes both active screening of workers or other individuals prior to entering the workplace (e.g., questionnaires) and passive screening (e.g., signage in your business).
• Safety Plans: As of March 21, 2022, employers are no longer required to develop or post written safety plans.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) employers have broad responsibilities to ensure workplace safety.

OHSA requirements for all employers include:

• ensuring workers know about hazards by providing information, instruction, and supervision on how to work safely,
• ensuring supervisors know what is required to protect workers’ health and safety on the job,
• creating workplace health and safety policies,
• ensuring workplace parties follow the law and the workplace health and safety policies and procedures,
• ensuring workers wear the right protective equipment and are trained on how to use it,
• taking all precautions reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from hazards including the risks of being hurt or getting a work-related illness.

 

Employers should determine what kind of information is appropriate with respect to COVID-19 controls. This may include provision of information about respiratory infections in general, signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and polices about what to do if a worker is sick, including “stay home if sick policies”.

There may be circumstances which arise where additional measures are required. For instance, if there was an outbreak at the workplace or a cluster of cases which shows that COVID-19 may be spreading among the workers, an employer may need to take additional measures to protect workers. In these circumstances, the precautions that are reasonable in the circumstances may include the additional layering of controls that were previously in place, such as re-introducing active screening, ensuring workers are physically distanced or re-introducing masking for workers in all or parts of the workplace.

Employers should continue to assess the workplace, and in consultation with the joint health and safety committee determine what they need to do to protect the health and safety of their workers.

MLTSD inspectors enforce the minimum requirements under the OHSA, and the regulations made under the Act. While the OHSA addresses the minimum requirements, an employer may choose to maintain COVID-19 precautions that exceed these minimum requirements. For example, an employer may choose to maintain masking requirements in certain situations or a modified version of their COVID-19 Safety Plan for the workplace.

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