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Adjust Work Processes

Administrative Controls – Implement hand hygiene practices and/or make adjustments to other administrative processes such as staggered shifts, changing of work hours, etc.

These directions are provided as part of the hazard mitigation as outlined in the Workplace Preventative Measure for COVID-19: Hierarchy of Hazard Controls.

Hierarchy of Controls diagram

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.

Hygiene Practices

In combination with physical distancing, appropriate hygiene practices are a critical prevention measure for COVID-19.

Post the following in visible areas within the workplace and review hygiene expectations with employees before they enter the workplace:

Advise and enable employees to practice the following:

  • Self Assessment Tool
    • Instruct individuals to complete the province’s COVID-19 screening app no more than 1 hour before coming to the University, save a PDF copy of their outcome from the tool and email their direct supervisor to advise them of their result (whether they are clear to attend campus, or have been advised to get tested for COVID-19 or to isolate). For more information, refer to the step-by-step guide for Chairs and Employment Supervisors.
  • Hand Hygiene
    • Wash hands regularly, following proper handwashing hygiene techniques.
    • Encourage individuals to practice hand hygiene directly after contact with high touch areas.
    • In areas with no proximity to a sink, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ensure hand sanitizer is available in the work area).
  • Respiratory Etiquette
    • Cover coughs and sneezes (cough/sneeze into upper sleeve or elbow instead of hands).
    • Turn away from others when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid Touching the Face
    • Avoid touching their eyes, face and mouth.
  • Cleaning/Disinfection
    • Provide disinfectant wipes so that common touchpoints (door handles, light switches, desks, etc.) can be disinfected by individuals before each use.
    • Establish routine cleaning of high touch surfaces within the work area.
    • Avoid sharing of work tools and equipment. If necessary, develop procedures for doing so, which should include sanitization.
    • Assess the need for additional sanitization of work surfaces prior to beginning work in high traffic/high touch areas.
  • Lab Hygiene
    • Hand washing or sanitizing, where handwashing is not possible, is extremely important – washing hands at least 20 seconds with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Advise employees to wash their hands when entering and before leaving the lab.
    • Custodial staff will be increasing the frequency of cleaning highly. touched surfaces such as door handles, elevators and washrooms.
    • Cleaning within the labs is the responsibility of the occupants. Wipe down benches and equipment, sashes, knobs, etc. before leaving for the day.
    • Place signs or label shared equipment with reminders to wipe down prior to and after using.

In order to enable physical distancing, new rules or procedures may need to be established  to reduce the potential for contact with other people.  Examples of such adjustments may include:

Adjustments to Shifts or Hours of Operation

  • Introduce extended hours and staggered shifts, or evening, night, or weekend shifts to minimize the number of people present on campus at any given time. Please consult with Employee & Labour Relations or your Faculty of Health Sciences HR Consultant for guidance on notifying employees of changes to their schedules.
  • Schedule specific lunch and break times for individuals and restrict gathering in groups.

Adjustments to Work Tasks or Deliverables

  • Defer certain tasks that would increase the potential exposure to risk.
  • Some tasks/experiments may be limited or restricted during this time due to the physical distancing requirements.  Organize and plan accordingly.  Clearly outline what tasks/experiments cannot be performed.

Adjustments to Methods of Working

  • Pairing of researchers to include graduate students (this does not mean working in pairs) may be necessary to accomplish research projects if on-going experiments require working beyond designated shifts or scheduled times.  This pair must have a thorough understanding of the other’s research to be able to properly take over the on-going experiment – this should be highly documented.
  • Leverage technology for communication.
  • Shared infrastructure that is located either in a researcher’s lab or common space must also abide by the physical distancing rules and sanitized after each use. There should be mechanisms in place to book shared infrastructure/equipment.
  • Do not permit in-person meetings or gathering of groups.
  • Require employees to leave campus immediately once their essential tasks are completed.
  • Enable work from home wherever possible.

Restricting University-Related Travel

In Phase 1, there is no University-related international travel.

As we prepare to move through subsequent phases, the necessity of all University-related travel should be considered and evaluated. All travel requests should be reviewed by supervisors. As part of this review, determine if travel is restricted to certain countries or regions by Global Affairs Canada.

Global Affairs Canada risk ratings are dynamic and is the responsibility of the person travelling to check these ratings up to the proposed time of departure. If L3 or L4 ratings for the country are declared, travel plans may be cancelled or significantly altered.  Purchase of travel insurance is highly recommended to minimize loss of any funds.

Travel related to Student Placements outside of Canada, Field Research and Field Activity should follow the RMM 801 and Global Affairs Canada travel restrictions.


Establish Standard Operating Procedures

Develop standard operating procedures (“SOP”) that limit the number of individuals involved in specific tasks.

Ensure clear and adequate communication of standards and operating procedures (including training, housekeeping, equipment maintenance and personal hygiene practices).

Guidance documents are available for the development of SOPs of the most common tasks in Phase 1 and supervisors can modify and adjust based on unique departmental needs.  See the bottom of the Workplace Health and Safety webpage for these guides.