PPE & Workplace Safety

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), requires that employers take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of their workers. To ensure that you are meeting this obligation, employers must assess their workplaces to determine what is needed to protect their workers and reduce the risk of spread from COVID-19.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that customers maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from others, and wear a face covering inside their business as well as outside if waiting in a line-up to enter.

Regulations also require all businesses that are open to develop a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan. Fines can result from not having a safety plan prepared, posted and available for inspectors to view.

  • 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. Minimum recommendation of 2 metres squared and ideally 4 metres squared, for each person (i.e. employees and clients) in the workplace.
    • 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.
  • Ensure staff wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects the eyes, nose and mouth (masks and eye protection) while providing services that require the staff to come within 2 metres of a person not wearing a mask (e.g. restaurant server)
  • Ensure you have supplies on hand. If personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks or hand-sanitizer are needed for the workplace, check the list of Ontario workplace PPE suppliers.
  • Be aware of and follow physical distancing and face covering by-laws and regulations
  • Remind other employees and/or clients to distance from others, as required.

Face coverings are required to be worn in enclosed public spaces. Read the Re-opening Ontario Act, 2020 and Hamilton’s Face Coverings and Masks By-law to learn:

  • When and where staff and clients are required to wear masks or face coverings.
  • Businesses that are exempt.
  • Customer/client exemptions and how to address.
  • If physical distancing is difficult to maintain, physical barriers (e.g. Plexiglass) are recommended in addition to face coverings or masks.
  • Non-medical/cloth/homemade masks are designed to protect others from droplets exhaled by the user (this is known as source control).
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends a three-layer non-medical mask. If you have 2-layer non-medical masks, you can continue to use them. If you are making or buying more masks, consider the 3-layer mask for improved protection.
  • Where individuals are likely to come into close contact with someone who is not wearing a mask, surgical masks, also known as procedural or medical masks, are recommended over non-medical masks.

Learn more about face coverings and masks.

Learn more about using masks in the workplace.

Did you know that during an inspection of your workplace, a ministry inspector may ask about your COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan?

The Re-Opening Ontario Act, 2020 requires that all businesses, places, facilities or establishments that are open have a safety plan that can be made available to any person for review on request. The safety plan must be posted in a visible place where it is most likely to come to the attention of individuals working in or attending the location.

Developing a safety plan

It is possible that someone in your workplace will contract COVID-19. Hamilton Public Health Services (HPHS) can support you and provide resources to help respond to such a situation.

Resources required to develop a safety plan are provided by the Ministry of Health. Six questions in the safety plan are outlined below to help with development of your plan:

  • How will you ensure all workers know how and are able to keep themselves safe from exposure to COVID-19?
  • How will you screen for COVID-19?
  • How will you control the risk of transmission in your workplace?
  • What will you do if there is a potential case of, or suspected exposure to, COVID-19 at your workplace?
  • How will you manage any new risks caused by changes to the way you operate your business?
  • How will you make sure your plan is working?

Click here for more information from the City of Hamilton on COVID-19 Safety Plans. This webpage provides support for developing your safety plan and contains sample answers, or factors that should be taken into consideration, for each question.

The provincial government also has resources available to you and your business to assist with the development of a COVID-19 workplace safety plan. Click here to learn more.

The City of Hamilton Public Health Services issued a Health Promotion and Protection Act Section 22 Class Order, to break the chain of transmission within local workplaces where COVID-19 or its variants are determined to be spreading.

The Order is now in effect.

The order will require:

  • Employers to notify Public Health Services if two or more cases of COVID-19 are identified within a 14-day period among those who attend the workplace by calling the Public Health Services COVID-19 Hotline at 905-974-9848, option 6, daily 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or after-hours at 905-546-2489.
  • Employers must also notify Public Health Services when five or more cases of COVID-19 are identified within a 14-day period among persons who attend the workplace.
  • The closure of certain workplaces, or parts of workplaces, where five or more confirmed COVID-19 cases are confirmed within a 14-day period and where cases could reasonable have been acquired through infection in the workplace.
  • A workplace closure to be in effect for a minimum period of 10 calendar days.
  • Workplaces subject to closure to post signage provided by Public Health Services at all entrances to the premises.
  • Workers at the closed workplace, or parts of workplaces, to self-isolate where exposures and potential transmission are considered widespread.

These measures may include the full or partial closures of workplaces. Certain workplaces may be exempt from the full closure requirement.

Click here for full details on the Section 22 Class Order including owner/operator requirements and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Ontario is releasing safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy.

These resources are available for different sectors. They will help employers and workers better understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Click here to read the available guidelines.

Visit the Ontario Workplace PPE Supplier Directory or access a local list below of businesses in the Hamilton area who are producing PPE and other tools that monitor and enforce compliance with COVID-19 health protocols.

AED4Life/BERRN Consulting Ltd: A local provider of PPE (face masks, gloves, gowns, shields) with a focus on Canadian-Made.

Arrow Health Supplies: Offering Face Masks (3-ply, KN95 and fabric), Face Shields, Hand Sanitizer (2oz -1 Gallon), Sanitizer Dispensing Stations, Floor Markings and more. All items are currently in-stock and most are shipped the same day they are received.

Art Aggregate: Creating scrub caps, masks and ear savers for personal use.

Battlefield Advertising, powered by PROforma: Has a number of PPE items in-stock to help companies open back up safely: KN95 masks, 3-ply disposable masks, reusable masks, IR thermometers, hand sanitizer, acrylic barriers, nitrile gloves, face shields and social distancing floor graphics.

Beatties: Has Face Shields, Floor Markings, Hand Sanitizer, Masks, Gloves, Gowns, Table Top Shields and more available for purchase.

Benefect: Supplier of Botanical Disinfectants & Cleaners for the Insurance Restoration Industry.

Cintas: As your doors open, make sure you’re prepared with essential products and services from Cintas to help keep your business clean, well-stocked, and safe. Offering top products & services such as: face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, and more.

Collective Arts: Producing and selling hand sanitizer with 100% of the proceeds going back into the production of sanitizer for essential services and frontline workers.

Crescent Oil: Supplier of hand sanitizer, KN95 masks, Surgical masks and Face Shields.

Fast Signs: Germ prevention signs and Health & Safety signs to protect your employees, customers and business.

FELLFAB: Providing non-medical masks, gowns, scrubs, shelters and mattress covers available for purchase.

Forsythe Health Care: Canadian-made hand sanitizer and disinfectants. Manufacturing both gel and liquid USP grade hand sanitizers, available in 250ml, 500ml, and 4L jugs.

GermFree by Ecosuds: Providing disinfecting and sanitizing products, microbe shield protection, and deodorizing services.

Grand & Toy: Selling one-stop shopping for “Return To Office” safety products, including PPE such as: face masks, sanitizers, disinfectants, signage, plexiglass guards, and more.

Greeter: An automated attendant that uses advanced artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to monitor and measure compliance with PPE and social distancing measures. It actively reminds people when they aren’t wearing masks or are too close to other people around them.

GT French: Supplier of Janitorial and Sanitation products.

Hauser’s Pharmacy & Home Healthcare: Hauser’s is pleased to offer a local business PPE support program to help with your business re-opening needs, including surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. Contact Phil at info@hauserspharmacy.com

INCOM Manufacturing Group, Ltd.: Producing and distributing COVID-19 safety signs & floor markings including: safety message floor tape, anti-slip floor signs, outdoor ground graphics, precautionary signs, a-frame standing floor signs, area closed barricade tape, floor marking conformable tape, and more.

Just Direct Promotions: Offers blank and personalized masks, shields and hand sanitizer. They also offer floor and wall graphics. Ask about back to business PPE kits aimed at making restarting safe and simple.

Mabel’s Labels: Producing and selling non-medical grade masks for adults and children, as well as Face Shields and Social Distancing Stickers.

Modern Cleaning Concept: Offers a comprehensive suite of services (janitorial, disinfection, sanitization, pressure washing etc.) and products (cleaning supplies, equipment and PPE such as masks, gloves, disinfectant, hand sanitizer etc.). Order online, free delivery in Hamilton.

Ogena Solutions: Supplier offering cleaning and disinfecting products including: Prevail disinfectant (Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide), sprayers, disinfectant dilution stations, foaming guns, ion generators and floor cleaning systems that eliminate the need to use mops and buckets.

Rubicon Safety Inc.: Producing social distancing barriers for industrial type settings. Read the tech sheet.

Shehoma Production: A Canadian based registered manufacturer and distributor of high quality medical / surgical masks Level 1, Level 2 & Level 3 and non-medical masks as well. We aim to fulfill the high demand needs for the Canadian and global market.

SHJ Source: Providing non-surgical masks and hand sanitizer. Email sjhsource@outlook.com or call (416)804-3660.

Speedpro Imaging: Offering floor decals for businesses to promote social distancing and hygiene. Call Bryce for more info (289-656-0336).

SteriRight, N95 Disinfection for ReUse: Utilizing state-of-the art technology, SteriRight offers services that reduce contamination risk in a safe, effective and accessible manner. SteriRight comes to you, so whether your organization needs N95 respirator reprocessing or Electrostatic Disinfection of office hard surfaces, our team of trained technicians are ready day one.

Tik Tok Print & Design: Offering floor decals for businesses to promote social distancing and hygiene.

The Cleaning House: Supply small businesses with cleaning supplies and machine rentals. PPE available: masks, gloves, face shields, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, plus the knowledge on what your business needs to re-open.

WalterFedy: An architecture and engineering firm available for consulting and designing changes to your facility, to comply with COVID-19 distancing standards. Learn more.