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Workplace Health and Safety Guidance during COVID-19

The following information is intended to assist the McMaster community in the planning process for the gradual return to campus while managing the risk related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to provide ease of transition and assist supervisors in the management of risks for a safe and successful return to campus.

COVID 19 graphic

McMaster’s Commitment – The University is committed to provide and maintain healthy and safe working and learning environments for all workers, students, volunteers and visitors. This is achieved by observing best practices which meet or exceed the standards to comply with legislative requirements. Our worker’s commitment to the University community is integral to the success of the institution. McMaster continues to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of the campus community.

Framework

The following information is intended to aid supervisors when addressing occupational health and safety concerns in the workplace related to COVID-19 in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements and restrictions and information provided by Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Ontario and Global Affairs Canada.

We recognize that the evolution of public health advice and government requirements will influence and restrict how the return to work will occur and workplace flexibility will continue to be required at this time. The guidance on this page is, therefore, dynamic and will continue to be regularly reviewed and revised.

In accordance with Ontario’s Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA), the University has the responsibility to keep a safe and well-maintained workplace and to take all reasonable precautions to protect workers from illness and/or injury by ensuring a work environment free from hazards. COVID-19 is a new hazard in the workplace requiring the University’s careful planning and implementation of all reasonable precautions for the protection of workers.

The following framework was developed by the University President and Vice-Presidents (PVP) to guide return to work decision-making across the University.

  1.  For the 2020/21 academic year, we will continue to deliver on the academic and research mission of the University, while prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of all members of our community.
  2. In doing so, we will remain focused on supporting and enabling the success of our students, delivering a high-quality learning environment and overall student experience.
  3. Our goal is to welcome new and returning students back to campus as soon as this can be done safely and in accordance with Public Health guidance and government protocols. Priority will be given to those programs where physical access is necessary in order to complete academic requirements and enable students to complete their courses and graduate.
  4. We will maintain our focus on research excellence and on supporting the work of our researchers across all disciplines, as well as enabling and advancing our long history of creativity and innovation.
  5. We will continue to uphold our core University values, principles and policies, including our focus on inclusivity, accommodation and respect for one another, and our collegial decision-making processes. Any revisions or updating of policies will continue to be developed through the University’s pre-existing governance processes.
  6. We will continue to make fiscally prudent decisions that support our ongoing stability and success as an institution, balancing risk with opportunity.
  7. We will continue to work together as a community to support our students, faculty and staff across the University and will ensure that information, plans and decisions are communicated clearly and promptly.

The University recognizes that important work has continued since public health and government requirements were first announced and applauds everyone in our community for continuing to advance their work remotely and through electronic devices. Working remotely remains the requirement for most roles on campus. As public health advice begins to ease, the University is planning for a gradual, phased return to campus, in keeping with the principles set out above. A University committee focused on operational requirements and recovery guidelines is convening regularly and will provide further guidance.

The information contained on this page is intended to be used for health and safety planning purposes in the initial phase (Phase 1) of the expansion of activities on campus. It is expected that these guidelines will continue to evolve as the University progresses through each phase of returning to campus.

Phase 1 does not signal a return for any reason other than to perform approved and critical functions that are impossible to perform in a remote manner. No individual should come to campus to take part in activities that such as group or individual meetings, regular office work, literature review, paper writing, grant preparation, thesis defense, comprehensive exams, etc.

McMaster’s phased approach will allow us to increase research and fieldwork activity while maintaining the health and safety of all personnel as well as the community in which we live. Read more about the various topics on the COVID-19 research website:

 

Workplace Preventative Measures for COVID-19: Hierarchy of Hazard Control

COVID-19 is a new hazard in the workplace. Hazard mitigation should always focus on implementing measures to eliminate or reduce the risk – which, in this case, is contact with COVID-19. For this purpose, the hierarchy of measures to control the hazard must be considered, as outlined below (modified to apply to the current circumstances).

Supervisor Requirements

Supervisors are required to:

Regularly check in with reliable sources of information, as new and evolving information becomes available regarding COVID-19:

  • All employees are potentially impacted
  • Recognize that, while no one is immune from COVID-19, there are groups of people who are more at risk than others, including:
    • those who are over 65
    • those with compromised immune system
    • those who have traveled internationally
    • those who have been in contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive

Following the guidance provided on this page, move through the hierarchy of control from the top to the bottom to evaluate the available measures to effectively protect the workplace.

  • Implement the measures you have evaluated to be effective and reasonable to protect the workplace
  • Take every reasonable precaution for the protection of the worker
  • Continue to regularly check in with reliable sources of information
  • As new information becomes available, reassess the applicability of the measures in place and evaluate if additional or modified measures are required

Workplace Checklists and Guidelines

Workplace COVID-19 Supervisor Checklist

Checklist to support supervisors in ensuring the health and safety of employees during COVID-19 (PDF) | PDF

Workplace COVID-19 Lab Worker Checklist

Checklist to support lab employees in ensuring their health and safety during COVID-19 (PDF) | PDF

Workplace COVID-19 Employee Checklist

Checklist to support employees in ensuring their health and safety during COVID-19 (PDF) | PDF

Guidelines for Fieldwork During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Guidance related to Fieldwork to ensure the appropriate COVID-19 health and safety considerations for the protection of all members of the McMaster community. | PDF

Guidelines for Research Lab Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Guidance related to Research Lab Use to ensure the appropriate COVID-19 health and safety considerations for the protection of all members of the McMaster community. | PDF

Guidelines for Travelling on Campus during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Guidelines related to Travelling on Campus to ensure the appropriate COVID-19 health and safety considerations for the protection of all members of the McMaster community. | PDF

Guidelines for Vehicle Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Guidelines related to Vehicle Use to ensure the appropriate COVID-19 health and safety considerations for the protection of all members of the McMaster community. | PDF

Guidance for Accessing/Working in Shared Studio Spaces during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Guidance related to Shared Studio Space to ensure the appropriate COVID-19 health and safety considerations for the protection of all members of the McMaster community. | PDF

Supervisor Inspection Forms

Supervisor Inspection Form – General

Joint Health and Safety Committee inspection form for supervisors in general locations. | PDF

Supervisor Inspection Form – Lab

Joint Health and Safety Committee Inspection Form for supervisors in lab locations. | PDF

Supervisor Inspection Form – Office

Joint Health and Safety Committee Inspection Form for supervisors for office locations. | PDF

Supervisor Inspection Form – Maintenance

Joint Health and Safety Committee Inspection Form for supervisors in maintenance locations. | PDF

Supervisor Inspection Form – Hospitality Services

Joint Health and Safety Committee Inspection Form for supervisors in Hospitality Services locations. | PDF