Avoiding COVID-19 Outbreaks at Work
Posted: Sep. 16, 2020 • By Kevin Kohler
An outbreak is any sudden rise in the number of cases of a disease. New clusters of COVID-19 are referred to as “outbreaks” by health authorities. Under prevailing health orders, outbreaks can result in additional restrictions being imposed on institutions, businesses, or geographical areas, in order to reduce the spread of the disease. Identifying and controlling outbreaks is an important tool in “flattening” the growth curve of new cases of COVID-19, so that our health system is not overrun.
In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic it is possible that some of our employees, despite everyone’s best efforts, become infected. It is important that we have systems and processes in-place to reduce the possibility of individual infections and ensure that an individual infection does not become a workplace outbreak.
Consequences of Workplace Outbreaks
A workplace outbreak is obviously a very undesirable event. Outbreaks at work can:
- Adversely affect the health of employees, clients or the public
- Spill over into families and the community
- Trigger health orders and business closures
- Affect our reputation and relationships
COVID-19 Management Plans (CMPs)
Our InUnison COVID-19 Management Plans (CMPs) and our infectious disease Emergency Response Planning (ERP) are designed to prevent workplace COVID-19 outbreaks by:
- Conducting Hazard and Risk Analyses to establish appropriate infection controls
- Communicating the preventative measures to be used by all employees to avoid becoming ill
- Using active screening measures to prevent sick or exposed employees from reporting to work
- Identifying, communicating and implementing proper hygiene practices and the use of PPE or masks where appropriate.
- Practicing enhanced cleaning protocols and environmental controls
- Employing a rapid response strategy to identify, isolate and safely remove employees who become ill.
- Maintaining records that will facilitate contact tracing of exposed individuals
- Working with the health and safety authorities to follow disease control requirements, report illnesses and take additional measures as directed
Government and health authorities may require a formal CMP for you to operate your business or institution and demonstrate that you can comply with any COVID-19 related health and safety orders.
We are likely to be exposed to COVID-19 infections for some time yet. It is critical to have a system in-place that addresses disease prevention as well as the immediate steps to be taken to prevent individual illnesses from becoming an outbreak. A CMP works within our Emergency Response Planning to control the hazards posed by COVID-19 in the workplace.
Have a plan and stop the spread
The following material was either used in the preparation of this newsletter or can be accessed if you require additional information:
Government of Canada, How businesses and employees can stay safe while operating during COVID-19
InUnison COVID-19 Management (Sector) Plans
InUnison Heath and Safety Manual, Emergency Response Planning – Infectious Diseases
Please contact your InUnison safety representative if you require any assistance with your COVID-19 Management Plans or your health and safety system.
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