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Checklist for the control of COVID-19 in agricultural facilities

Checklist for the control of COVID-19 in agricultural facilities that employ temporary foreign workers (PDF, 1 MB).

Agricultural facilities that employ temporary foreign workers (TFW) have an important role to play in helping to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19. This document is intended to assist in understanding how to fulfill that role, with a view to helping to protect the health and safety of all employees using a risk-based approach. This resource can be used to create a COVID-19 assessment and control plan for applying specific preparation, prevention, and management measures.

Throughout the course of this pandemic, employers, staff and TFWs are expected to follow the latest public health requirements of the province/territory in which they operate consistent with guidance from the Government of Canada. The employer is required to ensure that all occupational health and safety measures are in compliance with provincial/territorial and public health laws related to COVID-19 and that staff and workers meet those requirements. This includes new provisions in several jurisdictions for job-protected sick leave as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the information provided below, please ensure you check the Employment and Social Development Canada website for the most current guidance for temporary foreign workers regarding COVID-19 and the Public Health Agency of Canada for the latest information about COVID-19*.

COVID-19 assessment and control plan

It remains important that measures to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 continues after the quarantine period of temporary foreign workers ends. All aspects of the agricultural operation should be considered.

The purpose of this tool is to assess infection prevention and control (IPC) practices in communities where TFWs live and work in order to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The infection prevention and control (IPC) elements are based on accepted standards and best practices. Examples of these are workplace practices, IPC practices, employee education/knowledge assessment, physical environment and engineering controls in living quarters.

How the virus enters and spreads in a workplace

Agricultural work environments have been associated with increased transmission of the virus causing COVID-19. This may be due to such things as shared accommodations, gathering in areas where workers cannot avoid frequently touched surfaces, close contact with other employees or shared use of equipment. The most important control measure possible in congregate living and worksite locations is taking steps to prevent the introduction and spread of the virus. Factors that are believed to contribute substantially to the introduction and increased transmission of COVID-19 in workplaces include:

Close contact with an infected individual – A worker may come into close contact with a COVID-19 infected individual (symptomatic or asymptomatic) at a communal residence or at a worksite where physical distancing cannot be practised or other prevention measures employed. Additionally, a worker brought onsite from the community (e.g. through use of temporary staffing services) may introduce the virus to the temporary foreign workers on-site if measures to prevent this type of transmission are not in place.

Distance between employees – Employees often live and work closely with one another, such as when clocking in or out, during breaks, and as part of communal living.

Duration of contact – Employees may have long shifts where they have close contact with coworkers. Employees who live together, such as TFWs, may also have prolonged contact with their housemates and work crews. Continued contact with individuals infected with COVID-19 increases the risk of transmission.

How transmission occurs – Employees may be exposed to the virus through respiratory droplets in the air, for example, when someone in a greenhouse or bunkhouse who has the virus coughs or sneezes. It is also possible that exposure could occur when employees touch contaminated surfaces or objects, such as tools, field equipment, workstations, communal kitchens, washrooms or break room tables and then touch their mouth, eyes or nose before washing their hands. Shared spaces that increase close personal contact such as bunkhouses, break rooms and locker rooms may also increase risk. It is important to avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Other factors that may increase risk among employees include:

As the situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it is recommended that you consult the Public Health Agency of Canada for the latest information about COVID-19.

Table of contents

Section 1: Quarantine

Section 2: Assessment

Section 3: Control Plan

Section 4: Special considerations for shared housing

Section 5: Special considerations for shared transportation

This checklist can be used to reassess, update, and modify your assessment and control plan on a regular basis or as conditions change.

Section 1: Quarantine

Temporary foreign workers are screened under the Quarantine Act upon arrival in Canada, and are required to have an isolation plan in place for 14 days. Temporary foreign workers who do not abide by mandatory isolation requirements may face penalties under the Quarantine Act.

Employers are responsible for facilitating their employees' self-isolation. In parts of Canada, employers are also responsible for providing workers with appropriate housing. Employers who do not comply with their requirements are subject to penalties under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Employers must not prevent workers from meeting the requirements under the Quarantine Act in any way. This includes not making the worker interact with workers or others who are not in quarantine.

In most cases, the employer cannot authorize the worker to work during the quarantine period, even if requested by the worker. There are exceptions for those deemed as providing an essential service by the Chief Public Health Officer. In addition, the employer cannot ask the worker to perform other duties during that period, such as building repairs or administrative tasks.

For situations where workers become ill, please refer to the Managing COVID-19 infected workers section below.

Temporary foreign workers entering Canada follow obligations related to mandatory quarantine

Additional criteria for employers who provide quarantine accommodations

Section 2: Assessment

The Public Health Agency of Canada's risk mitigation tool for workplaces/business operating during the COVID-19 pandemic can provide information on assessing risk factors and determining appropriate mitigation measures to prevent/reduce these risks.

Consider the characteristics of your region, worksite, space, and job tasks that may impact assessment and control of COVID-19

Monitor federal, provincial, and local public health communications about COVID-19

A workplace coordinator responsible for COVID-19 assessment and control planning is identified

Section 3: Control Plan

3.1 Screening and monitoring workers

Policies and procedures for screening workers for COVID-19 signs and symptoms are developed

There are uniform policies and procedures for screening workers for COVID-19 signs and symptoms as well as potential exposure to others (i.e. contact of a case). Anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should not be allowed to enter the worksite. (see section below)

Workers who have symptoms know to self-isolate and contact a healthcare provider or local assessment centre

Personnel performing screening activities are protected

3.2 Managing COVID-19 infected workers

The employer is asked to monitor the health of workers. If a worker becomes symptomatic at any time, the employer is required to immediately provide accommodations that enable the worker to be isolated from others, including a private bedroom and private bathroom and also contact local public health officials.

Employers must ensure they have a clear plan to isolate, monitor and test symptomatic possible cases/COVID-19 infected workers/and workers who are contacts of possible cases.

All actions with COIVD-19 infected workers must be performed under the direction of local public health

Please consult:

Monitoring and management of sick workers

Protect personnel managing sick workers

Action plans are in place for workers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19

If there is a COVID-19 infected worker in employer-furnished housing:

3.3 Engineering / Built environment controls

Physical distancing policies and practices are established

Workers are provided with the tools needed to practice good hygiene. This includes access to facilities that enable them to wash their hands often with soap and warm water, providing soap, and providing an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly soiled.

Surfaces in the accommodations are cleaned and disinfected regularly. Surfaces in bathrooms, kitchens and common areas are cleaned and disinfected daily, or more often as required, and that a record maintained. Workers can do this, as it constitutes essential care. The services of a professional cleaner can also be used, if desired. Regardless, cleaning materials should be provided (e.g. paper towels, household cleaning and disinfection products, dish soap and laundry soap).

3.4 Personal hygiene; cleaning, disinfection, and sanitation

Promote hand hygiene

Cleaning and disinfection

Information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 should be posted in the accommodations, in easy to understand language, including information that outlines best practices for workers in maintaining bathroom and other washing facilities. It is suggested that such information be posted in bathrooms, kitchens and common areas, and that it be posted in the language of the worker. Several resources are available on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Awareness resources. In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada has some materials available in several languages for use.

This risk mitigation tool for workplaces/businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic provides examples of mitigation strategies (e.g., staggered breaks) based on risk factors (e.g., physical proximity, handling of common equipment).

Note: the goal is to promote understanding by all workers so it is suggested information be provided in a language and format the worker understands. Consideration should be given to providing this information in writing and/or orally (for example by phone), as appropriate.

Several resources are available online. In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada has some materials available in several languages for use.

3.5 Administrative controls

Restrict non-essential travel and site access

COVID-19 training, that is easy to understand, is provided in preferred languages, and at appropriate literacy levels. Workers should receive training about:

Leave and sick leave policies

Promote physical distancing

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends and encourages wearing non-medical masks or cloth face coverings* to protect others as an additional protective measure in addition to physical distancing. This is particularly important when a consistent, two metre distance is not easily maintained or is unpredictable, as in crowded spaces.

* Non-medical masks and cloth face coverings should not be placed on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

3.6 Personal protective barriers

If non-medical masks or cloth face coverings are worn in the workplace because social distancing of 2 metres is not possible:

Personal protective equipment

Training should include the following:

Section 4: Special considerations for shared housing

Resource(s):

Note: all guidance / direction provided by local / provincial public health for shared housing must be followed.

Special considerations for shared housing

Enhanced sanitation and cleaning plans are developed and implemented.

Living quarters, cooking and eating areas, bathrooms, and laundry facilities are cleaned and disinfected

Physical distancing in shared housing is maintained

Daily health checks are conducted at shared housing

A plan is established for responding to residents with suspected or confirmed COVID-19

Section 5: Special considerations for shared transportation

Sharing transportation such as ride-share vans, shuttle vehicles, car-pools, and public transportation may increase risk among employees.

Special considerations for shared transportation

Resources

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