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The Next Normal

Nov 11, 2021 | COVID19, Health and Safety, HR Canada, Workplace

The Next Normal . . .

(Questions, Questions Questions related to workplace health & safety during the COVID-19 Pandemic)


The above represents a foundation for every business.

People make it possible to have a business. They represent all sides of your equation as they are consumers, contributors or constituents within your business. What would your business be without People?

Ultimately, your business is looking to get back to its Purpose (what your business is set out to do) and engaging your internal Process(es) to get the work, product services etc. done. Profit is a result of managing the financial components so that at the end of the day, there is a surplus that can be reinvested, saved, shared or otherwise allocated to the likely “why” that put the business into place, in the first place!

With our current pandemic and the fact that many businesses are getting back to some level of the “Next Normal” the people side is evident with respect to ensuring their protection. This brief will focus on the internal People of your business.

“Your workplace priorities are essential for Everyone’s Protection!”

There are a number of questions that will assist you in working towards doing what is right!

What are your workplace safety risks? There are likely many responses to this question, and it is vital that you have a handle on being able to clearly state your Health & Safety risks. As part of your response to answering this question, also state your reasons the particular risk is identified

As part of the Employer’s obligations in Health & Safety, meeting legal requirements must rank highly and remember, there are multiple sources of the applicable legislation that would apply. As an Employer you are expected to know what legislative requirements apply and that the associated legalities (as a minimum) are met.

Ensuring functional applicability to the legislative needs – how can I make this work for my people & business – is also an important factor.

Your employees/workers make your business tick. Worker confidence in leadership’s ability to manage Health & Safety as well as all other requirements of your successful business is vital.

Include Mental Wellness factors – Direct & Indirect Impact. The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely impacted most people from a psychological perspective. That too has a lingering and present-day impact on their psyche. Be aware that also has an impact on respective performance and concentration. That forms part of aspects of risk that must also be considered.

“Common Areas” Usage and maintaining Social Distancing are likely aspects with which your workplace will have to deal.

As an overall consideration, here is another question that needs attention; What factors affect the transmission of this virus?

Among some of the responses to this question, considerations of the above points may also come into play. Here are just a small portion of responses that may apply and can be studied:

· Workplace access and potential contact with workplace parties. – Distancing

· Co-mingling during entry & exit – Distancing

· Meetings. Lunch, washroom, Coffee etc. – Distancing

· Common areas – reception, shipping/receiving sales counters, lunchrooms, washrooms etc.

· General workplace personnel movement/circulation – Distancing

· Traditional office environment

· Maintenance activities including custodial/janitorial activity

· Information sharing/education – meetings, gatherings

From this foregoing question and responses, the next big question may likely be; What can be done to manage these factors?

As you can imagine, responses would be numerous and have to take into consideration all the factors you would have provided to all the previous questions. Among the responses to the points raised, the “How” questions you raise and respond to will start to provide assistance in the right direction that your workplace will take to ensure the Health & Safety of all concerned.

Identify “How” to manage these.

Ultimately, Workplace Worker and Supervisor Education / Information Sharing will have to follow.

Workplace Rules, Guidelines, Policy, Safety Talks, PPE, etc. will need to be addressed and the following is a sample list of considerations:

• Worker anxiety/trust / concerns (On and off-the-job)

• Passive or active screening to access the workplace

• Staggering start times breaks, lunches to assist in physical distancing

• Changing meeting/lunchrooms to enable physical distancing

• Evaluate front and service counters, how will this impact AODA accessibility issues.

• People flow through the workplace, barriers, signage

• Disinfection of TouchPoints (CCOHS) –

• Evaluate office set up to have barriers or 2-meter (6 foot) distancing.

• Regular cleaning plan vs. a confirmed Covid contamination

• Washroom logistics

• Signage, and issues with people not “seeing” signage

• Ergonomics for those working at home

• Overall effectiveness of all controls

• Training – how do we do with physical distancing smaller classes and online potential.

• Coaching, follow up

• Anticipate Questions / Complaints / Refusals – Work with your Leadership Team to be Prepared to Respond / Take Action

• “…Take every precaution reasonable under the circumstances…” – Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act

• Ensuring at least minimum legislative requirements are met.

• Your Workplace Rules are Enforceable by Legislation

You are not alone and there is support available to you.

The last question you can ask yourself; Where can you find information to help you manage your risks?

Here is a list of resources that are available with reliable information*:


· Ontario MOL

· WSIB –

· Local Health Unit –

· Workplace-specific H&S Association for Ontario Workplaces

o Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA)

o Public Sector Health & Safety Association (PSHSA)

o Workplace Safety North (WSN)

o Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS)

· Related Industry Associations

· Outsourced professional services


* The above are mainly related to Ontario-based workplaces. There are respective links for every Canadian Province and Territory – Please contact your respective authority for your jurisdiction.

Getting it together . . .

answering and addressing all the previous questions and answers should contribute to assisting your workplace to be able to properly address the following main points:

o Health & Safety Factors

o Planning & Communication

o Training & Monitoring

o Dealing with Potential & Actual Covid Cases

o Screening

o Cleaning, Disinfection, Sanitization & PPE

o Workplace Layout

o Distancing in Production Areas

o Distancing in Common Areas

o Additional Business Factors

o Operation Plan (includes H&S)

o Financial Plan

o All H&S Plans

o Execute, Monitor & Refine

o Conduct Daily & Weekly Reviews

o Continuous Improvement

o Review, Revise & Repeat

At the end of the day, evaluating the effectiveness of your efforts to address the requirements will allow you to adjust, fine-tune the requirements and lead you to be successful in your business and taking care of your people. The resulting outcome is closely tied to making your clients see you as a business that has “it all together” and doing “the right things for the right reasons” ultimately, for the benefit of all.

Meeting legislative requirements, is good for business, in oh so many ways!

— Dan Suess