Plus new checklist, and French and English guidance documents to help protect forestry and mining workers
Recently, Ontario health and safety associations, in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD), released sector-specific guidance documents for employers to implement in their workplaces as they gear up for re-opening their businesses.
In Ontario, employers have a duty to protect workers from hazards in the workplace as set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, its regulations, and the directives coming from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Two new infographics set out best practices for the mining and forest products sectors
“These sectors are considered essential,” says Mike Parent, Vice President of Prevention Services at Workplace Safety North (WSN), “and guidance documents were developed in partnership with the Ministry, and posted on workplacesafetynorth.ca. These documents are text-based so we also created a visual reference to help explain key points.”
The mining and forest products health and safety infographics use images to depict key behaviours and aid with comprehension.
“Mining has particular challenges mainly around cage travel underground, as well as transportation to remote mines. Once you’re at work, you’re typically working alone and are physically distanced from other workers.
Highlights of the infographic include screening workers, staggered shifts and breaks, physical distancing, increased handwashing and sanitizing high-touch areas, increased communication, and personal protective equipment.
“For forest product workers, if you’re out in the bush using mechanical harvesting equipment, you’re okay in terms of physical distancing, but you still need to be cleaning mobile equipment and any other shared items for the off-shift operator or others,” says Tom Welton, WSN Prevention Services and Education Programs Director. “In the mill, you can consider staggered shifts, breaks and lunches, to enhance physical distancing.”
Highlights for forest products sector infographic include increased handwashing and sanitizing high-touch areas, cleaning equipment before and after use, staggered seating when travelling to a worksite, and screening workers.
Both logging and mining are high-risk occupations in terms of health and safety, and it’s important that these essential sectors follow strict protocols to protect workers.
Employers should have policies and protocols that educate employees on how the workplace will operate, and ensure supervisors and workers are aware of their responsibility to identify, report, and manage suspected cases of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
Employers should have an infectious disease preparedness and response plan that reviews levels of risk associated with the work site and specific tasks. The plan should also include how the organization will operate during a pandemic, including sanitization protocols, equipment and resources, how employees report illness, how to ensure physical distancing, and how work will be scheduled.
As the COVID-19 situation changes rapidly, Ontario workplaces should proactively change policies and protocols to ensure they can effectively operate in a safe and healthy manner.
Contact your local WSN Health and Safety Specialist - For help accessing resources, assessing risk in your workplace and making a prevention plan.