Infection Prevention & Control for Businesses

Research indicates that COVID-19 transmission is predominantly associated with large droplets. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
  • touching something contaminated with the virus, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
  • overcrowding and close, prolonged contact in a poorly ventilated indoor space where physical distancing and masking is not in place

Understanding how COVID-19 spreads means that workplaces can take measures known to reduce spread to help protect staff and patrons. The information below can help businesses and employers to identify the infection prevention and control measures to put in place.

For more information on Public Health Guidance for Workplaces, click here.

When developing plans for your workplace, it is helpful to think of the hierarchy of controls, where the most important way to reduce exposure to COVID-19 is through physical distancing. Check the information below to see how you can eliminate and/or manage exposure in your workplace.

This information has been adapted from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institution for Occupational Health and Safety for the purposes of COVID-19.

Physical Distancing
Develop policies and practices that increase the physical distance among employees and clients as much as possible.

  • Encourage employees to work from home.
  • Offer phone or online services whenever possible.
  • Use contactless or curb-side delivery for mail or products.
  • Stagger staff shifts to reduce crowds during entry and exit to the workplace.
  • Develop maximum capacities or limits on the number of people allowed in the workplace and its spaces (e.g. lunchrooms, meeting rooms, break areas, waiting rooms).
  • Arrange floor space to support physical distancing. Post physical distancing signage at all entrances, staff rooms, elevators, and in public areas (e.g., cashiers, service counters, waiting areas).
    • Use visual markers and announcements to direct traffic flow and manage lines.
    • Remove unneeded furniture and supplies from rooms, waiting areas and walkways to allow ease of movement while maintaining physical distancing.
    • Use public announcement systems and/or assign employees to remind others to stay two metres apart.
  • Modify how you provide service to avoid prolonged close contact between people
    • Redesign workplace areas including waiting areas, commercial spaces, and common rooms.
    • Close waiting areas or restrict the number of people in an area if there is not enough space to support physical distancing.​
  • Install protective barriers (e.g. plexiglass) if there is close contact between staff or between staff and clients (e.g. check-out lines, registration desks, etc.)
  • Assign workstations to a single user whenever possible, or limit the number of users and ensure cleaning measures are in place in between use.
  • Find out if a building permit is required to install shields at counters
  • Use contactless payment instead of cash.
  • Use outdoor space when possible.

Adjusting the Workplace

  • Work from home and use technology to connect
  • When in person, keep a distance of two metres from others as required by City of Hamilton By-law 20-056
  • Restrict the number of employees onsite.
  • Manage traffic flow using floor markings.
  • Display signs with details of how to physically distance in the workplace and at the entrance.
  • Have a plan for communicating and reminding those in the workplace about physical distancing.

Adjusting Process

  • Implementing health screening of all employees and visitors.
  • Encouraging employees to practice good hand washing and hygiene techniques
  • Encouraging individuals to practice hand hygiene directly after contact with high touch areas.
  • Increasing cleaning and disinfecting.

Providing PPE

  • Wear face coverings or masks in enclosed public spaces as required by the Re-opening Ontario Act, 2020 and Hamilton’s Face Coverings and Masks By-Law
  • Have employees and visitors wear a face covering or mask while waiting outside in line
  • Educate staff how to put on, take off and properly dispose of PPE.

All workplaces are required to actively screen staff. Active screening means employers use information gathered to decide who can enter the workplace. Passive screening is when people decide their own risk and make the decision themselves.

Workplaces must screen all individuals (workers, volunteers, suppliers and contractors) daily prior to entering the workplace. Screening may be done in-person, online or verbally.

Workplaces must be able to demonstrate that they have implemented a screening system and that it is working as intended. An inspector will need to be able to determine compliance with the law. Workplaces can consider various ways of demonstrating that they are compliant with the screening requirements, including keeping a record of individuals who were screened.

Organizations and businesses required to screen patrons must use or ask questions similar to those found the Customer Screening Tool. Customers who do not pass screening should be advised that they cannot enter and advised to self-isolate and get tested. Records of screening do not need to be maintained.

  • Temperature checks are not required or recommended as part of screening.
  • Employees and customers should not enter a workplace if they have symptoms of COVID-19. They should be advised to book an appointment for COVID-19 testing at www.hamiltoncovidtest.ca
  • If employees develop symptoms while at work, they should notify their supervisor and return home. Employees should follow guidelines for what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Signs should be posted at the entrance reminding ill employees, clients or customers not to enter the workplace if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

Employers:

  • Provide proper resources and supplies to ensure employees can follow recommended practices
    • Educate staff on the importance of proper handwashing and covering their cough.
    • Ensure proper supplies, such as tissues, waste bins, garbage bags/liners, hand sanitizer, soap and paper towels are in washrooms, lunchrooms, break and common areas.
    • Provide hand sanitizers (70-90% alcohol) in high-traffic areas, such as store or business entrances, in waiting and change areas, near cash or pay stations and common areas used by staff or customers.
    • Remind staff of requirements during in-person meetings, in staff updates, within email/intranet updates and through posted signage.
  • Discourage physical contact between staff (e.g., handshakes or social gatherings) during or outside of work.

Employees:

  • ​Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; after touching your cell phone or contact with frequently touched surfaces.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, then throw the tissue in a lined waste basket.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Employers:

  • Follow cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
  • Increase cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as point of sale transaction equipment, elevator buttons, keyboards, mouse, phones, desks, computers, door knobs, light switches, seating areas, lunch tables, kitchens, and washrooms.Create an enhanced cleaning schedule to disinfect frequently touched surfaces and common areas.
  • If an employee feels unwell at work and needs to go home, disinfect the area and surfaces the employee may have come into contact with as soon as possible.
  • Use cleaners and disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19. These will have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) and be approved by Health Canada. View a list of cleaners and disinfectants.
  • Ensure proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn when using these products.
  • Ensure that cleaning staff:
    • Check the expiry date of products used.
    • Always follow the manufacturer’s instruction for use.
    • Review the required contact time for the product to work. Contact times should be between 3-5 minutes ideally. Products that take longer may require a second application.
      • For most products, the contact times are mentioned in the fine print label and they are usually 10 minutes (Lysol, Clorox, etc.).
      • For hospital/institutional/commercial grade products the contact times are highlighted on the front label.
  • Cleaners used on surfaces that may come into contact with food and drink should be identified as safe for food surfaces.
  • Wash hands with soap and water immediately after cleaning or disinfecting.

Employees:

  • Clean and disinfect your own workstation and common items, including:
    • Common or shared equipment and tools, such as cashier’s stations, machinery, debit stations, keypads, self-serve kiosks
    • Electronic equipment such as computers or cell phones.
  • When cleaning:
    • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for use of a cleaner or disinfectant and the cleaning of electronic equipment, including the length of time before removing;
    • Ensure good ventilation when using products (e.g. open windows/doors, use fans);
    • Wear proper personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves and/or mask), as required;
    • Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water right after cleaning or disinfecting

The risk of COVID-19 increases in enclosed and crowded spaces. Having proper ventilation in place is an important public health measure since properly ventilated spaces are less likely to be linked to virus spread.

  • Ensure ventilation meets industry guidelines and standards. For more information about whether your HVAC system meets provincial requirements, contact the building manager.
  • Building operators should make sure their HVAC systems are well maintained by scheduling regular inspections and tune ups by certified technicians.
  • The Ministry recommends these additional steps:
    • Using portable air cleaners
    • Keeping windows and doors open where possible
    • Continuing ventilation and air exchange after regular business hours
    • Using outdoor space when possible (e.g. for meetings, breaks and client interactions such as curbside pick-up)

For more information, see Public Health Ontario’s COVID-19: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems in Buildings and Use of Portable Air Cleaners and Transmission of COVID-19

Employers:

Employees:

  • Employees returning from anywhere for business or leisure purposes, or employees entering Canada as essential workers from other countries, are required by federal order to mandatory quarantine for 14-days upon their return.
  • People in higher risk zones in Ontario should avoid travel to lower risk areas (e.g. from red to orange, from yellow to green) except for essential reasons
  • Employees are required to work from home for all tasks that can be done remotely.
  • Where possible, operations are conducted virtually, including client services.
  • Contactless processes have been implemented where possible, including during curbside pickup and delivery.

Employers:

  • Clearly communicate changes to policies in practices to protect employees and customers against COVID-19.
    • Update employees on the expectations to follow policies and carry out required workplace health & safety practices. Use signage, emails and in-person communications to reinforce measures taken.
    • Communicate expectations and policies to clients through email, website updates, store signage, and in-person communication.
  • Plan for employee illness/absenteeism and possible supply chain interruptions.
    • Identify essential business functions and job roles, and critical elements within supply chains (e.g., raw materials, suppliers, subcontractor services/products, and logistics).
    • Decision making should be guided by public health advice and your own internal business response plans.

For Guidance Documents, Financial Resources, Posters & Signage, resources translated in other languages, and tips to protect the mental health of your employees, visit the City of Hamilton’s COVID-19 Resource Page.

Returning to work after self-isolating