COVID-19 has had a monumental impact on all individuals worldwide. With no one left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic, it goes without saying that all workplaces have been affected. As such, the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) must ensure that it is aware of hazards associated with COVID-19 when completing workplace inspections.
The JHSC is trained in RACE: Recognizing, Assessing, and Controlling Hazards, and Evaluating the effectiveness of those controls. An effective JHSC will use the principles of RACE and apply them to the new hazards associated with COVID-19.
Recognizing the Hazards
Due to the rapid nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, the JHSC must be prepared to adapt quickly and address COVID-19 hazards. To recognize potential COVID-19 hazards, consider the following:
- Does your workplace service the public?
- Do you have screening measures in place? Are masks mandatory for staff, clients, or both?
- Do you provide hand sanitizer?
- Do you control the number of people allowed in the building?
- Is the workplace large enough to allow for appropriate physical distancing during regular work processes?
- Are there high touch-point areas, objects, or shared tools?
- What other PPE is required as a part of the regular work processes?
- Are there any shared materials or PPE?
- Are plexiglass partitions in use where applicable?
Assess the Hazards
Once the hazard has been identified, it must be assessed to determine the risk. To assess the risk, consider the likelihood and the severity of an injury, illness, or damage if the hazard were left uncontrolled.
The more likely an incident is to occur, and the more severe the resulting injury, illness, or damage, the higher the risk. The risk associated with COVID-19 is high, as we know COVID-19 to be potentially deadly and the likelihood of transmission high in the event of an exposure.
Controlling the Hazards
Once the hazard is identified and assessed, a temporary control must be put in place immediately to remedy the hazard and reduce the risk. In some cases, that control will be enough to permanently and effectively control the hazard. However, sometimes a temporary control needs to be replaced with a more effective permanent control. The JHSC can help make recommendations for effective COVID-19 hazard controls in the workplace, such as:
- Installing physical barriers
- Enforcing sanitization policies and processes
- Enforcing physical distancing in the workplace
- Limiting the number of people allowed to gather in common rooms, such as meeting spaces and lunchrooms
- Prohibiting unnecessary travel
- Conducting meetings and interviews remotely
- Allowing work from home where appropriate
- Redesigning of workspaces to encourage and enforce distancing
- Reduction of workforce present in the workplace, including staggered shifts
- Providing handwashing training
- Increasing cleaning protocols, especially in high touch areas
- Introducing employee screening programs
- Providing masks and making them mandatory in the workplace
- Delivering training through distance learning
Evaluating the Hazards
Without evaluation, controls may not be as effective as they should be. Be sure to evaluate the controls for effectiveness. As well, enforcement is key. Controls are only effective when workers are following new processes and wearing masks properly.
JHSC Training is Key
Get most from your JHSC by ensuring that all members are certified. JHSC training covers RACE extensively so that your JHSC is operating at maximum efficiency when they complete workplace inspections. JHSC that are trained can apply RACE to any workplace hazard, including those presented by the new COVID-19 pandemic.
Best Safety Training Can Help
Best Safety Training is a Chief Prevention Officer (CPO)-approved provider of JHSC training. We offer in-house and on-site JHSC Part One, Part Two, and Refresher training. We also offer JHSC training through distance learning for your safety and convenience, so employees can safely participate in training while maintaining a safe and healthy physical distance.
Let the Best Safety Training company take care of your training needs.
To ask questions about JHSC training, workplace inspections, or RACE, contact us online or call 226.777.7385. Visit us 24/7 on the web at bestsafetytraining.ca