Table of Contents
To ask the risk of exposure to a pandemic and facilitate the continuation of essential services and/or business functions during any pandemic emergency.
“Pandemic” refers to a virus or disease prevalent over a whole country or the world. A pandemic can affect a significant number of employees at any given time, removing them from the workforce for a variety of reasons.
Those who become ill may be incapacitated for days or weeks. Other employees will choose to stay home to care for sick family members or may have difficulty with childcare due to schools and daycare closures. As a result, ABC Company may be unable to maintain services during this period of time.
When a pandemic occurs, ABC Company will conduct a risk assessment to determine the company’s level of exposure and risk to the pandemic. ABC Company will,
- Describe areas which persons could come in contact with the pandemic
- Review our work process to determine if gaps in controlling the pandemic are present
- Identify the action/response to each concern shown on the assessment
- Assess current hazard controls to determine if they are adequate, if they need to be improved, or if safe work instructions are needed
- Train our workers in those job steps and hazards associated with the job, inclusive of the information contained within Appendix 4
Once the risk assessment has been completed, our company will develop a Safety Action Plan that will define how we will protect our workers, customers and contractors from exposure to identified infectious disease. All workers will be required to complete a screening questionnaire, as shown in Appendix 8.
Appendix 9 contains the risk assessment form that will be used in the event a pandemic occurs
Appendix 10 outlines a Safety Action that will be the established standard that will be used as our company endeavors to protect our workers against a pandemic.
Critical Business Functions
A critical business function is that function or those functions that must be performed in order for the organization to remain in business/operation until the situation returns to normal.
- Appendix 1 details ABC Company’s Critical Business Functions.
The following staffing resources/alternatives exist which may maintain ABC Company’s operation with an estimated 30 to 50 percent reduction in staffing levels.
- Appendix 2 identifies the essential/core services and their functions that must be performed in priority order
- Appendix 3 identifies the minimum staffing levels, and the respective priority needed to maintain the services in a pandemic situation
ABC Company will Identify and consider various temporary alternatives and sources for maintaining staffing levels and essential/core services.
Cross-Training of Staff
Having identified the critical business functions that must be performed in your business over a minimum of a six to eight-week period, the following will be done:
- Identify all the staff that could perform those critical business functions.
- Identify all staff that have been cross-trained on the critical business function.
- Note any people that have left your business unit and are still employed in your organization who might be utilized if not required in their current position.
Cross-training systems/contingency plans are important to establish long before a pandemic occurs, especially in areas that have very limited staffing, such as at our development sites. Try and establish as many options as possible and consider how we will support those critical business functions.
Statistics indicate that employers should be prepared for staff reductions of at least 30/35 percent during the waves of a pandemic outbreak. It is likely that staff shortages may actually reach upwards of 50 percent for 2 to 3 weeks at the peak of a pandemic wave. Staff reductions of 30/35 percent would translate into similar or higher staffing levels than at the peak of yearly vacation scheduling. However, it should be noted that supervisors stagger the number of people in their business units that will be on vacation at one time and ensure that cross-trained staff can pick up the slack, whereas this may not be possible in a pandemic outbreak.
Infection Countermeasures and Education
Staff awareness is a big part of the first stage of pandemic planning. It is important to educate employees in the various ways that they can protect their own health and the health of others.
- Appendix 4 can be used to educate staff on the various ways to protect themselves and others.
If a pandemic has broken out in other parts of the world, our current staffing levels will be evaluated, and plans for each critical business function in each business unit will be developed using the appendices attached.
Take your staffing plan (Appendices 2 and 3) that identifies your critical business functions and now consider the situation of the individual employee that performs each critical business function. Work up a plan for each person, considering the following alternate service delivery options: (See Appendix 3)
- Does the employee have school-aged children and/or responsibility for elderly parents? If the answer is yes, make contingency plans to cover their position for periods of time during the pandemic wave as it is anticipated that schools may close during a pandemic, and the elderly may require assistance.
- Can the critical business function be performed from home, or can the employee be based from home rather than the office? Staff may only need to come into the office once a week for files and supplies.
- If the employee must perform their duties in the office, do they take transit to work? (There may be transit interruptions and taking transit will expose the employee to more people). If the answer is yes, consider whether the employee could work shift work (5:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.) to reduce the face-to-face contact in the office and to have the person travel on transit at off-peak periods. As well, consider if there are carpooling opportunities within the organization for this employee.
- If shift work is an option in your department/Region, work with your staff to identify which shift works best for them while still maintaining coverage for the services delivered by your area.
For each employee that provides a critical business function and must perform their duties in the office (Appendix 3 previously completed) will have outlined alternative staffing service delivery options if required.
Immediately upon the outbreak of a pandemic, contact any major stakeholders to determine the nature of the outbreak, who or what is affected, what is being done about it, and what we need to do. Communicate the appropriate information to employees, tenants, and other key stakeholders.
- Virus/disease notifications should be posted in lunchrooms and other areas to raise staff awareness of applicable symptoms (Appendix 5).
- Ask staff to discontinue sharing cutlery, plates, cups, magazines, etc.
- Encourage staff to bring their lunch, stagger their lunch hours and to eat at their desk or away from others (avoid the lunchroom or crowded restaurants).
- If face-to-face meetings with people are unavoidable, minimize the meeting time, choose a large meeting room and sit at least one meter away from each other if possible; avoid shaking hands or hugging. Consider holding meetings in the open air if weather permits.
- Encourage staff to avoid recreational or other leisure classes/meetings etc. where they might come into contact with infectious people.
- Encourage people to use on-line services or the telephone to conduct their business where possible.
- Where possible, reduce exposure between staff and the public.
Consider amending human resource policies to allow more flexibility for staff to be able to cope with health, family and other pandemic related challenges.
Monitor the health status of employees. If a person feels ill, or if someone observes that another person is exhibiting symptoms of illness at work, they should notify the ill employee’s manager or supervisor. The manager/supervisor should take action to send the employee home and to disinfect their work area.
Additional public health measures for community-based disease control will be considered. The trigger for these measures will depend on the way in which the pandemic unfolds. Decisions on implementing these measures will be made by the Health Authorities, the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments to ensure consistency. Some measures have been assessed as being effective as a community-based strategy. Samples of these measures can be found in Appendix 7.
Once the pandemic wave has passed, ABC Company will evaluate the impacts and begin recovery operations.
Complete this assessment for each critical business function position
|Critical Business Function Position|
|Employee(s) responsible for function|
|Critical functions performed|
|Other staff who are cross-trained|
|Cross-training on other positions|
|Other staff, temps or retirees who could perform the duties|
|Does the current incumbent have school-age children at home?|
|How does the current incumbent travel to work (i.e. transit, carpool, taxi)|
|Does the employee(s) work allow for shift work (i.e. 6:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or 2:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.)? If so, identify which shift would work better.|
|Software that may be needed to perform the job.|
- For your Organization/Department, list each core service in Column A.
- Remember to consider core services that may be seasonal (e.g. Month/year-end procedures or snow removal).
- List Company the functions associated with that core service in Column B.
- Using the following planning criteria categorize each function in Column C:
|Priority 1||Potential to affect the health and safety of the public or is legislated or required by law.|
|Priority 2||Major inconvenience to the Client but does not affect health and safety.|
|Priority 3||Minor inconvenience to the Client; service probably not missed or could be deferred over the short term (6 weeks).|
- In Column D, enter your assessment of the potential increase in demand for this service during a pandemic.
- Those service activities listed as Priority 1 are considered Essential Services that must be maintained during a pandemic.
|Service||Function||Priority||Potential for Increased Demand (Low, Medium, High)|
Priority 1 Functions/Services
- In Column A – List the Priority 1 & 2 functions (identified using Appendix 1 from column B).
- In Column B, List the current number of staff performing this service.
- In Column C, List the assessed the minimum number of staff that could perform this service.
- In Column D, calculate the pandemic staff reduction by multiplying column B by 65% (the worst-case planning assumption is 35% staff off).
- In Column E, calculate the possible staffing shortfall by listing the difference between Column C and Column D(the difference between staff remaining after applying 35% reduction and the minimum required to perform the service).
|Priority 1 Function||Current Staff||Minimum Staff (Consider level needed for cavitation coverage)||Pandemic Staff Reduction (B x 65%)||Potential Pandemic Staff Shortfall|
NOTE: This table provides basic information as a basis for planning. More detailed planning is required. Within a staff complement, there will be positions that may be identified as more critical than others because of the number and/or qualifications, and these should be examined more closely.
- Hand washing
- Hands can play a significant role in acquiring and transmitting a virus from one person to another. Good handwashing habits are more likely to prevent infections than excessive cleaning and disinfection. Most people do not wash their hands for long enough or in the correct manner.
- Before, during, and after you prepare food
- Before you eat, and after you use the washroom
- After handling animals or animal waste
- After using tools or equipment that are shared with others
- When your hands are dirty, and
- More frequently when someone in your home is sick
- Touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Try to refrain from touching your face unless you have just washed your hands. It is especially important when using contact lenses that your hands have been washed well.
- Cough etiquette
- Turning your head and coughing or sneezing into a disposable tissue or the inside of your elbow will assist in reducing the spread of germs. Remember that you are contagious and spreading germs before you ever start feeling the symptoms of the flu. Also, use disposable tissues once and ensure that you place them in the garbage right away so that they do not contaminate surfaces.
- At the washroom sink
- Use a paper towel to turn off the tap in the washroom after you have washed your hands so that you don’t contaminate your hands again. Use the same paper towel to open the door of the washroom and other doors that you may have to open to get back to your work area.
- Hand Sanitizer
- use alcohol-based waterless sanitizers where water basins are not possible. Hand sanitizers don’t clean visibly soiled hands, but they do kill germs on hands. Hand sanitizers should not be confused with anti-bacterial soaps, where concerns have been raised about their possible role in antibiotic resistance. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not pose this risk.
- Shared work areas
- If you share a workspace or other equipment such as tools, forklifts, etc., with others, ensure that you clean telephones, keyboards and other surfaces that may be touched by many people. Office Services provides wipes that can be used for this purpose.
- Maintain a good diet
- Try to get adequate sleep, a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water.
- Knowing the difference between the virus/disease symptoms and those of more common illnesses
|Symptom||Virus/Disease Concern||Common Illnesses|
Hand Sanitizing Stations
Consider setting up hand sanitizing stations for staff at all of the office facilities and provide front-line staff with their own bottles of sanitizer. Hand sanitizer gel would not be provided to staff to replace handwashing with soap and water. However, there are times when it may not be convenient or practical to get to a sink to wash your hands, and the hand sanitizing stations will allow staff to kill germs without water.
Medical Threat (Virus, Disease, Other)
To reduce the spread in this workplace, the following actions are required from all employees:
Do not come into work if you have any or all of the following symptoms:
- If some of the above apply to you, please go home and wait until you have recovered before returning to work.
- If you have recently arrived from overseas or returned from overseas, please advise your Manager/Supervisor.
- If you start to feel ill at work, PLEASE DO NOT leave your work area.
- Call your Manager/Supervisor and advise them that you are feeling unwell.
During a pandemic, additional measures to minimize the transmission of the virus through environmental sources, particularly hard surfaces (e.g., sinks, handles, railings, objects and counters) will be implemented. These additional measures will be determined based on the nature of the threat and the recommendations from local health officials.
Cleaning of environmental surfaces with a neutral detergent followed by a disinfectant solution is recommended. Surfaces that are frequently touched with hands should be cleaned often, preferably daily. The table below suggests the appropriate choice and concentration of disinfectants:
When a person with the suspected threat is identified and has left the workplace, it is important that their work area/office, along with any other known places they have been, are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected immediately.
- Individuals who are ill will be asked to stay home from public locations. Adults recommended for self-isolation should remain home for a minimum of 14 days, what is recommended by public health if different than 14 days, or until symptoms have resolved, unless they need to visit a health care provider. During this period, people should avoid close contact with unexposed household members. “Close contact” is defined as face to face exposure within one meter (three feet) of another individual. Frequent disinfection of household surfaces should be practiced.
- At the very early stages of a pandemic, contacts and individuals linked to exposure sites may be quarantined in an effort to slow transmission in the community. This measure would only be applied if there were sporadic infections or clusters in the Region and not if there was an efficient virus spread in the general population.
- Closing schools and daycare facilities may reduce transmission or delay the spread of the disease, particularly if the pandemic is causing high attack rates in school-aged children. This control measure will have an effect on the parents and caregivers and could divert essential workers to childcare responsibilities. School boards or daycare administrators may choose to independently close their facilities based on their own criteria for safe facility operation.
Restriction of Large Gatherings
- This would involve the closing of indoor gathering places for people. Gatherings may include sporting events, theatre, conferences as well as mass public transportation services. Because the effectiveness of this measure is not documented and the difficulty with the sustainability of cancelling or restricting indoor gatherings, this measure is not recommended in the Canadian pandemic plan as a broad public health measure. However, this measure remains an option for targeted events to reduce transmission.
- Once a pandemic has arrived in a community, people should use “social distancing” as a way to reduce the risk of being exposed. The Health Authorities will provide advice. Some strategies for social distancing include:
Avoid “close contact” with individuals (i.e. within 2 metres or other distance as recommended.)
- Minimize visitors to homes.
- Cancel family gatherings.
- Avoid shaking hands, hugging, or kissing people as greetings.
- Stock up on groceries and shop less frequently.
- Work from home, if possible.
- Minimize contact at work by teleconferencing.
- Utilize means other than public transit.
Use of Masks by Healthy Individuals
- This measure is not recommended in the Canadian Pandemic Plan as a community-based intervention. It is assessed that it is not likely to be effective in reducing disease spread in the general population. It is recognized that wearing a surgical mask properly at the time of exposure may provide a barrier if used with other infection control measures. If masks are used, they should only be used once and must be changed if they become wet (because they become ineffective when wet). As well masks must be removed properly to avoid contaminating the wearer. It is not feasible to wear masks for the duration of a pandemic wave, and there may be supply problems. Again, advice will be provided by the Health Authorities.
Hand Sanitizing Stations in Public Settings
- Frequent hand washing is an effective infection control measure. However, the Canadian Pandemic Plan does not recommend establishing sanitizing stations in public settings such as public transit stations. It is assessed that this would not be effective in significantly reducing the spread of the disease in the general population. Compliance would not be assured, and these stations would require human and financial resources to maintain. Hand washing must be encouraged, and existing public washrooms should be appropriately stocked with supplies at all times. People should consider carrying their own travel-size bottles of handwashing gel.
- Because the virus can survive on environmental surfaces (up to 48 hours on hard surfaces), frequent cleaning can reduce the spread of the virus in the home or at workstations. Cleaning should take place using common household disinfectants. In-office settings, the building cleaners should not be relied upon to do this level of cleaning. It is best to allocate time for staff to thoroughly clean their own areas, especially if they share workspaces or work in areas where the public is served. See Appendix 6 for suggested disinfectants, recommended use and precautions.
- Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms or a combination thereof?
- Sore Throat
- Muscle aches
- Runny Nose
- Difficulty Breathing in severe cases
- Pneumonia in both lungs
- Have you been out of the country with in the past two weeks?
- Do you have any person in your household or persons that you have been in contact with that are showing signs/ symptoms as above, or have travelled out of the country within the past two weeks?
- Do you know anyone in our workplace that may have symptoms of COVID-19?
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, then you may be required to quarantine, self-isolate for 14-days, or attend an assessment center.
By signing below, you understand and acknowledge that if you begin to feel unwell, you are to notify your supervisor and immediately go home and self-isolate for 14-days. You also understand that if you observe another worker or person who is not following our COVID-19 safety measures, you must notify a supervisor or manager immediately.
Notes about this Risk Assessment
This risk assessment is to be completed to ensure that the risk has been identified and the required prevention measures have been implemented. The rigorous application of these measures is to limit the risks of contracting and/or spreading COVID-19 and to take action quickly when identifying non-conformities. The primary purpose of applying such measures is to protect the health of workers.
|Assessor Name(S)||What is Your Role Within the Business?|
|List Area(s) and/or Item(s) Where Workers Could be Exposed to COVID-19|
|Area and/or Item||Yes||No||Area and/or Item||Yes||No|
|Chairs and stools|
|Brooms and mops|
|Do you have any customers or contractors that may be expected to enter your business?||Have reception or someone stop each worker, contractor or visitor before they come into the workplace and ask them questions from the screening sheet: record phone numbers, email or both.|
|If yes to the above, do you ask them if they may be infected or been around those who may be infected?||If yes, you should have them read the screening questionnaire. They need to sign in, indicating that they are not a risk to your staff. This should include a phone number in case you need to contact them. Workers may need to don PPE|
|Communications to workers explaining what social distancing is and its importance have been communicated. Is it posted?||Do a safety talk in small groups (1 to 3) about what it is and what your policy states.|
|Have workers been out of the country?||Ask during the screening of persons coming into the building. Any worker who has been out of the country may need to self-isolate.|
|Does everyone have to come to work? Can you have workers work from home?||Assess which jobs can be done off-site and if you can transition to this.|
|Can you add a shift to split the staff to keep as little people in the building as possible?||Ensure that if you are adding an additional shift that all the rules and procedures that would apply on days also applies to other shifts.|
|Can you organize the work that would separate workers?||This may see machines moved to separate workers. Also, consider if the workflow can be changed so that groups of workers are not working so close together.|
|Do you have rules in place to have workers sanitize their work areas as often as needed? If yes, do you have enough supplies to allow workers to sanitize the work area? This would include sanitizing tools before work begins (beginning of the day and after each break, and end of the day)||If you have workers that will handle the same tools and equipment, sanitizing the tools and equipment should be considered between worker usage. For example, if multiple workers are using a forklift, pallet walkie etc.|
|If workers are required to work closely together, what kind of controls can you put in place?||This is a problem if workers are required to talk to each other as part of the work process. Is there a way of changing the way we communicate? Let’s get creative!! Consider: Physical barriers between workers (plex glass, panels etc.)Workers wear face shields, face masks and latex glovesNo talking to each other Do not use fans to blow air away from workers!|
|Can workers eat their meals, coffee breaks and maintain the 2 M distance? (remove seats, have designated sitting areas?) Can scheduling breaks minimize worker contact with each other?||If workers are sharing things like microwaves, sinks, tables and chairs, disinfecting these must happen often. Who will be responsible for doing this?|
|Where social distancing of 2 metres between persons cannot be maintained, work process, meetings, offices, etc. are workers wearing PPE?||See above, “if workers are required to work closely.”|
|Do workers follow the social distancing rules- Handshaking and close greetings are not practiced||Some workplaces may have staff that do not see the seriousness of these controls and choose not to follow the rules. Workers should be encouraged to report workers not following the rules. Supervisors should take a strict adherence to the rules. Tell workers that if they do not follow the rules, they are putting mgmt. In an awkward position where they will be required to take action.|
|All personnel are practicing handwashing at the start of the shift, after washroom breaks, prior to and after breaks, and at the end of shift||This may be a new rule that may need to be put in place. It will be different for most workplaces. It will be a challenge to ensure this is done.|
|Are water stations available, are disposable cups available? Washing dishes at work is not recommended.||It is not recommended that workers are allowed to bring in their own coffee cups or water bottles as droplets could land on the area that they put their mouths on.|
|Soap dispensers with bacterial soap available in washrooms and clean-up facilities and maintained||Don’t forget to sanitize the area of the soap dispenser that the bare hands touch.|
|Anti-viral Hand sanitizer (at least 60-99% alcohol and no alcohol substitute) distributed throughout the workplace and high use areas?||This may be a challenge to acquire hand sanitizer. Hand washing is the second option.|
|Disposable paper napkins and sanitizing wipes are available for use in eating areas||Self-explanatory|
|Trash cans are placed near toilet exit doors||Self-explanatory|
|Disinfectant wiping products are available and distributed widely around common areas||Self-explanatory|
|Increased cleaning of the toilet block (seats, levers, tanks, sink, counters)||How often does your business clean its washrooms in a day? How often do washrooms get cleaned in a restaurant? Washrooms should be cleaned often. Most businesses do not have someone assigned to do this. You may need to address how this will be done at your workplace.|
|Staff members performing cleaning and garbage collection are wearing disposable gloves for all tasks in the cleaning process||The policy must clearly state that when handling trash or cleaning areas that gloves are worn. This would include wearing gloves when you are sanitizing tools and equipment.|
|Hand sanitizers are available in washroom and clean-up areas||Self-Explanatory|
|Are supervisors watching workers ensure they are following safe work procedures?||Supervisors may be sympathizing with workers and may not want to be the heavy hand and enforce the rules, especially if they seem silly. They must be told it is their job to enforce.|
|Hand washing method posters displayed (Public Health Agency of Canada) in washrooms and clean-up facilities||Posters can be downloaded off the net.|
|Posters reinforcing COVID19 Signs and Symptoms and actions to be taken are posted||Self-Explanatory|
|Rate the following 1=low 5=high How seriously do you think your workers are taking this? How seriously do you think MGMT is taking this?||1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5||If it is felt that workers and mgmt. will not take this seriously if so, you will need to figure how you will deal with this. You may also find that some may not think you are doing enough for their protection.|
|Will the business be laying workers off?||If job protection is a concern to workers, you may wish to pay attention to the mental health of workers. A distracted worker may not be paying attention to the task at hand.|
|Rate the following 1=low 5=high Do you think workers are worried, scared and emotional?||1 2 3 4 5||As stated above, if workers are worried, stressed or scared, they may be experiencing some strong emotional feelings. These may cause workers to become distracted by the job at hand. Distracted workers are at a higher risk of accidents & incidents.|
|Is the business keeping workers up to date as to how it is dealing with the COVID 19?||During these difficult times, none of us have experienced these kinds of things. Employers, managers and supervisors are struggling to keep up to the events going on. Workers are scared and confused, as well. Not communicating with them may cause more stress and worry to workers. There is nothing wrong with communicating to the staff that you are not sure how you are going to handle the situation at hand and that once we have developed a plan, they will be brought up to speed. Have discussions with front line supervisors what information can be communicated to workers and what is to be considered as confidential.|
|Have you interviewed staff to find out what their feelings are about what is going on? What do they think the company should be doing? How would they feel if you were to put some of the controls in place?||Workers not knowing what is going on may not trust what the company is trying to do. Talking to workers during this assessment allows them to feel what they think matters. You may find that giving them a bit of a heads up as to some of the controls that may be implemented, may make implementing those controls easier/ smoother. If you ask the question, “what do you think if we were to do……” And they answer in a positive manner; it may be a smoother transition for the company.|
Safety Action Plan
Based on the risk assessments conducted, the following procedures and safe work instructions will be implemented.
- Define how you will educate workers
- Safety talks
- Screening of persons coming into our workplace
- Define how our company will sanitize the workplace;
- Eating areas
- Change rooms
- Tools and equipment
- Cars & vehicles
- Offices and common areas
- Stairways (handrails)
- Define how you will keep workers distant
- For areas that workers cannot maintain distance, how will you protect those?
- Define what Personal Protective Equipment will be required to be worn
- Latex gloves, N-95 masks, face shields, safety glasses, Tyvek suites etc.
- Define any specific safe work instructions that workers must follow;
- Hand washing
- Maintaining distance
- Wearing PPE
- Define which jobs can be moved out of the workplace (working from home)
- May need to include how those workers would come into the workplace if they need to.
- Define how workers are to report possible exposure to the disease both at work and during off-work hours, including out of city/ country travel. Define if they will be required to self-quarantine.
- Define who is responsible for enforcement of policy and consequences if the policy is not followed.
- Define any training requirements