Ask the Safety Expert: Can we add physical distancing, hand washing and cough etiquette to our committee inspection checklist?

Ask the Safety Expert: Can we add physical distancing, hand washing and cough etiquette to our committee inspection checklist?

​​​​Ask the Safety Expert: Itoro Affia​​

Q: Can we add physical distancing, hand washing and cough etiquette to our committee inspection checklist?

A: Thanks for the question. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation for workplaces in that the virus has become a new hazard to control. We recommend that you use Manitoba Health guidelines to help you determine the actions you should take to eliminate or minimize exposure to COVID-19 in your workplace. You can then use workplace inspections, which must take place at least once every 90 days, to check that COVID-19 prevention measures (which may include physical distancing, hand washing and cough etiquette) are followed. COVID-19 prevention measures that you can inspect for include (but are not limited to) the following:
 
  • Physical distancing: Check that the distance between work stations, and the distance between workers and customers, is at least two metres, except for brief exchanges. Ensure that signs about physical distancing are clearly visible. Ensure that physical distancing measures do not block emergency exits.

  • Physical Environment: Check that physical barriers like plexiglass are in place to prevent worker exposure, as necessary. Confirm that ventilation systems are in good working condition.

  • Hygiene: Inspect to see that work stations, door handles, elevator buttons, stair railings, physical barriers and other high-touch areas are frequently and properly disinfected. Ensure that hand-washing stations, alcohol-based hand sanitizers (with at least 60% alcohol) and disinfectants for cleaning are available and accessible.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): If PPE is required at your workplace, check that there is an adequate supply and that the PPE is being used and discarded properly. If your workplace is unsure if PPE is needed, Manitoba Health has some general guidance and the Government of Canada has information on how to complete a risk assessment.

  • Training: Ensure that workers understand COVID-19 control measures in the workplace. Ensure that COVID-19 prevention information on signs and posters is easy to understand and is clearly visible to workers and customers. Signs and posters should include images that encourage proper etiquette, including hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing into elbows, and proper use of PPE. Also, ensure that signs about one-way traffic flow are in place and visible, as well as signs at entrances asking people not to enter if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

​If you identify hazards related to COVID-19 during committee inspections, you must report the hazards to your employer, and make recommendations for either eliminating or controlling the hazards. It is imperative that workplace safety and health committee members receive proper training on inspections in order to perform their duties competently.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please ensure you regularly visit Manitoba Health's website.​

Itoro Affia is a Prevention Consultant in the Service Portfolio at SAFE Work Manitoba.


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