Developing a COVID-19 Safe Work Plan
Academic labs and some work spaces are required to develop a COVID-19 Safe Work Plan to outline the procedures and expectations that are in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Supervisors overseeing work spaces that have specialized needs such as applied program delivery, client-facing services or if staff participate in activities that carry a higher risk are required to submit a Safe Work Plan in advance. Safe work plans guide the safety of our employees although student will benefit from these plans too.
There are a number of approved sector specific H&S guidelines that will assist in the development of the lab and/or workplace safe work plan. You may find a complete listing of all provincially endorsed sector guidance documents here.
Understanding the Risk
The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads in several ways, including through droplets when a person coughs or sneezes, and from touching a contaminated surface before touching the face. Higher risk situations require adequate protocols to address the risk.
- The risk of person-to-person transmission is increased the closer you come to other people, the amount of time you spend near them, and the number of people you come near. Physical distancing measures help mitigate this risk.
- The risk of surface transmission is increased when many people contact the same surface, and when those contacts happen in short intervals of time. Masking and effective hand hygiene practices help mitigate this risk.
Developing your Safe Work Plan
The key to developing a safe work plan is to understand the COVID-19 related risks associated to your lab/workspace and then to document how the risks will be mitigated.
Note that different protocols offer different protection. Wherever possible, use the protocols that offer the highest level of protection and add additional protocols as required. You may refer to the standard hierarchy of controls when developing your plans.
First level protection (elimination): Limit the number of people in your workplace where possible by implementing work-from-home arrangements, establishing occupancy limits, rescheduling work tasks, or other means. Rearrange workspaces to ensure that workers are physically distanced, according to public health measures, from co-workers, customers, and members of the public.
Second level protection (engineering controls): If you can’t always maintain physical distancing, install barriers such as plexiglass to separate people.
Third level protection (administrative controls): Establish rules and guidelines, such as cleaning protocols, telling workers to not share tools, or implementing one-way doors or walkways.
Fourth level protection (PPE): If the first three levels of protection aren’t enough to control the risk, consider the use of masks. Ensure masks are selected and cared for appropriately and that workers are using masks correctly.
COVID-19 Safe Work Template
This COVID-19 SWP template has been designed for your use to assist in the development of your Safe Work Plan. It can be used by academic labs as well as departments looking to add a COVID-19 SWP specific to their space and employees/students.
- Please save this download to your computer. To complete, open the file with Adobe Acrobat from the saved folder location.
- Save file as “COVID-19: Academic Lab/Activity/Department”
- Completed SWPs can be emailed by school chairs and department managers to email@example.com for review.
Approved COVID-19 Safe Work Plans
COVID-19 SWPs have been developed in collaboration with JHSC, lab technicians, faculty, support staff and management.
These SWPs should be kept in a location central to the work being performed and readily available to the workforce. In addition, all academic lab COVID-19 SWPs should be added to the lab’s Safety Information Board.
Effective March 15th
All Sutherland building occupants and activities must include a procedural mask. Procedural masks are recommended and will be required as per the SWPs at other campuses.