Section 22 orders are in effect across Ontario.
Is your workplace ready?
You may have heard that Section 22 orders have been issued and are in effect in most municipalities across Ontario. But (like most of us) you may not be familiar with Section 22 and what it actually means.
Essentially, Section 22 has to do with communicable diseases. Under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, the MOH (Medical Officer of Health) can issue an order to “require a person to take or to refrain from taking any action in respect of a communicable disease”, and generally applies to commercial/business properties as well as common areas of multi-family dwellings and lodgings such as condos and apartment buildings. (You can read more about the communicable diseases section here.)
Different municipalities across the province have focused on different elements of Section 22, depending on the levels of coronavirus and COVID-19 cases in their area.
What does this mean for workplaces in Hamilton?
In Hamilton, the most recent guidance for workplaces under Section 22 includes the following:
“Every person who owns, operates, or occupies a workplace or persons responsible for a business or organization in the City of Hamilton, where employees or the public are regularly present, shall, unless excepted from this Order, comply with the requirements set out below.
1. If two or more cases of COVID-19 are identified in connection with your workplace premises within a 14-day interval, immediately notify Hamilton Public Health Services. To notify Public Health, call 905-974-9848, option 6 daily from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, or after-hours at 905-546-2489.
- When there are two or more cases of COVID-19 related to your workplace premises, or upon notification by Hamilton Public Health Services, you must ensure that the following steps are taken:
- Prepare the list of close contacts of these persons and provide the list to Hamilton Public Health Services, when requested;
- Notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board;
- Provide contact details of the most responsible decision-maker at the workplace premises and ensure that this person is readily available for contact by Hamilton Public Health Services to implement any additional measures immediately as required by Hamilton Public Health Services;
- Follow all Hamilton Public Health Services instructions pertaining to contact tracing and identifying workers who need to isolate, including ensuring that any instructions as specified by Hamilton Public Health Services are communicated to workers; and
- Cooperate with staff and representatives from Hamilton Public Health Services including allowing entry into the workplace premises for inspection and to support enhanced infection prevention and control measures and recommendations.
2. In addition to notifying Hamilton Public Health Services as soon as you become aware of two or more individuals who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14 calendar-day period in connection with your workplace, you must notify Hamilton Public Health Services as soon as you become aware of five or more individuals who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14 calendar-day period in connection with your workplace.
3. Owners, operators, occupiers or persons responsible for a workplace premises that has been closed by notice under this Order shall post the notice at the entrance in a manner that is conspicuous to the public in a form provided by Hamilton Public Health Services indicating the workplace premises is closed.
4. The worker requirements below shall be communicated by the owners or occupiers of a workplace premises or persons responsible for a business or organization to all workers impacted by a closure/mass dismissal notification pursuant to this Order.
During periods where:
The geographic area of the City of Hamilton is placed in the Grey – Lockdown zone under the Province of Ontario’s Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, and applicable Ontario regulations,
The Province of Ontario has enacted a Shutdown (“Shutdown Zone”) under applicable legislation, or
Under similar provisions in any successor legislation,
Hamilton Public Health will determine the extent of the closures:
- A full closure applies to an entire workplace premises.
- A partial closure may apply to a mass dismissal of a shift or work area.”
You can read the full text of the most recent guidance on the City of Hamilton website, here.
For most Hamilton-area workplaces, which are either partially open or preparing to emerge from lockdown in the next few weeks, what this really means is continued vigilance: Maintaining social distancing, encouraging mask-wearing in any indoor spaces where not everyone is fully vaccinated, and maintaining the high levels of disinfection and sanitization that they have been practicing for the past year or more. While the risk of workplace-based transmission is lower than it was a few months ago, it’s important to maintain standards until the data indicates that the majority of the population is fully vaccinated and there is only negligible risk from new variants.
Have questions? We can help.
If your workplace has been closed or partly closed for the better part of the year, you and your employees may have questions or concerns about what ‘safe’ looks like, and what cleaning, disinfecting and sanitization processes and products make the most sense for you. Please don’t hesitate to call or email us – we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about getting your workplace up and running, safely, again.