COVID-19 - Frequently Asked Questions

March, 2020 – The COVID-19 outbreak, which began last December, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The respiratory illness, which is caused by a never-before-seen coronavirus, has spread across the world.

WorkSafeNB is committed to keeping New Brunswickers safe at work. Here are some of the questions you've had for us since the province declared a state of emergency on March 19, 2020.

Due to the volatility of the COVID-19 situation and constantly evolving evidence, the responses provided will be updated as new information becomes available. Additional references are included in the answers. The reader is advised to give greater weighting to local or provincial guidance and follow the highest standard should there be difference.


 
New! COVID-19 FAQ

 This FAQ is available in PDF.

Business closures/essential businesses/workers

On March 19, 2020 a state of emergency was invoked in New Brunswick that mandated certain workplaces to close.   As time progresses, certain restrictions will be lifted, and the provincial government will phase-in business re-openings.  The declaration and guidance documents can be accessed on GNB’s website: COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses.

Employers who would like more information about which businesses can operate should contact helpaide@gnb.ca, or call 1-844-462-8387. 

(information as of October 29, 2020) 

WorkSafeNB does not determine which workplaces are deemed essential and which ones are not. To find out if your workplace is deemed essential, please consult the Government of New Brunswick’s website.

(information as of April 17, 2020)

WorkSafeNB does not determine who is an essential worker and who is not. Your manager or employer will make that determination.

(information as of April 17, 2020)

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Right to refuse

Employees in New Brunswick have the right to refuse work if they believe it presents an unsafe situation. When this happens, employers need to consider the work refusal on a case-by-case basis, depending on the situation. The same principles apply for managing workplace health and safety and work refusals during a pandemic as they do during normal conditions.

Our website has information on the process to file a right to refuse unsafe work and additional resources.

(information as of April 17, 2020)

Under ordinary circumstances an employee is required to be at their workplace to view the work before exercising their right to refuse dangerous work. Given the unique circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, WorkSafeNB will accept work refusals where the employee has not gone to the worksite. In those cases, the employer must agree to this process. If all parties agree to this new process then the matter will be addressed through phone calls, emails or other remote means. 

Note: If your employer requires you to be at the workplace to refuse work you believe to be unsafe and you do not attend, your protection from discriminatory action afforded to you during the work refusal process could be affected and your employer could take job action.

Additional information on the right to refuse unsafe work process is available on our website.

(information as of April 17, 2020)

Both the federal and provincial government have imposed travel bans with some exceptions. You and your employer need to check if these apply to your situation. If you believe your health and safety is endangered when asked to travel outside of New Brunswick during the COVID-19 pandemic you can refuse to do so by first advising your supervisor of your concerns. You should also explore with your employer alternative solutions to avoid travel while still carrying out the work. If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can raise the matter with your workplace JHSC, if one is established. If your organization does not have a JHSC or you are not satisfied with their response, please contact a WorkSafeNB health and safety officer at 1 800 999-9775 who will follow-up with your concerns.

More information on the right to refuse dangerous work is available on our website.

(information as of April 17, 2020)

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Joint Health and Safety Committee

If possible, the JHSC should continue holding meetings either by phone or web conferencing instead. If meeting in person is necessary, the JHSC can reduce the number of people attending the meeting to the strict minimum that is required for quorum, while ensuring representation from both the employer and employees. If your JHSC is unable to conduct meetings by phone or through web conferencing, it would be important to meet in a large enough room where you can keep two metres between people and ensure that the room is well ventilated. 

If these suggestions are not feasible during the pandemic situation, you will need to take reasonable measures to keep the JHSC worker reps or at least the worker co-chair informed of the health and safety issues at your workplace. Please note, COVID-19 is a serious health and safety issue and thus, the JHSC has an important role to play to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. It’s also important to note your JHSC must be consulted at Step 2 of the work refusal process if an employee is exercising their right to refuse. Your JHSC must consider how it will be able to perform this important function during the pandemic situation. 

(information as of April 17, 2020)

First, your employer needs to determine if they can operate under the state of emergency imposed by the Province. If they can operate, your employer must develop a Covid-19 operational plan. Since COVID-19 is a serious health and safety issue,  your employer needs to consult with the Joint Health and Safety Committee, the health and safety representative, or staff affected by the plan.  Providing instruction, training and supervision on the requirements of the plan is also required.

(information as of May 14, 2020)

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Contaminated workplace 

The answer to this question depends on if the worker has simply been exposed or has had close contact. Public Health is advising anyone who has been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 to self-monitor  themselves for 14 days. If the worker has had close contact, then they must self-isolate. In either case, if the worker subsequently develops symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, they should isolate and use the Government of New Brunswick’s assessment tool to assess their status and next steps.

Curious about the difference between self-solation and isolation (quarantine)? Visit Health Canada’s webpage, Know the difference : Self-monitoring, self-isolation, and isolation for COVID-19 on website for more information.

(information as of April 17, 2020)

The employee must immediately isolate themselves and follow guidance from the appropriate regional public health officials. Public Health will determine if there is a need to inform the employer of the test results. A visitor and employee log for access points and rooms where physical distancing is not possible must be shared with Public Health.

Public Health will advise anyone who has been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and identify any control measures that are required to be put in place.

For the management of cases and contacts, Regional Public Health will provide the direction for follow up and advise if there is a need for employer action.

Regional public health will lead the process of tracing the identity of other persons that may have been exposed. Public Health may require the employer's assistance in the process. As the employer, you are required to:

  • Cooperate with Health officials and adhere to their advice.   Additional information on the tracing process used is below.
  • If the case is confirmed positive by Public Health, the employer must report the exposure to WorkSafeNB by email (compliance.conformite@ws-ts.nb.ca) or by calling 1 800 999-9775.
  • With the guidance of Public Health, communicate with your staff and other workplace parties about measures they must take following the potential exposure.   Ensure this process respects individual privacy. Public Health will also identify if any communication is needed external to your workplace.
  • Follow Public Health's advice regarding closing or restricting access to the workplace to clean surfaces and equipment which the confirmed case was in contact with by following the guidelines developed by Health Canada for Hard-surface disinfectants for use against coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • If applicable, follow Public Health's advice before re-occupying the workplace.
  • Re-evaluate the workplace including the preventive measures and the screening process for employees re-entering to determine if changes are required.   You can consult the following WorkSafeNB resource for guidance.
  • If necessary, re-visit your business continuity plan and your operational plan.

Learn more:

Difference between quarantine (self-isolate) and isolate, Government of Canada

Self-monitor. self-isolate and isolate, Government of New Brunswick

Embracing the new normal, WorkSafeNB

New Brunswick Department of Health - Public Health Contact Tracing Information

All positive COVID-19 cases are reported to the appropriate regional public health office.

  • Public Health staff contacts the individual who tested positive the same day they receive the results to inform them of their test result, provide instruction, and determine who they have been in close contact with.
  • Public Health conducts a risk assessment based on a detailed interview with the individual.
  • Public Health staff contacts all close contacts (and the workplace if appropriate) to identify any control measures that are required to be put in place.
  • If one of these close contacts tests positive, then the contact tracing process begins for that individual.

As is the case for all contact tracing of cases, Public Health nurses and teams work daily with new cases to trace the contacts and have them self-isolate. If there is workplace exposure or exposure to the public, Public Health determines what communications are needed within workplaces or with the public or media outlets.

Every individual is entitled to privacy when it comes to Personal Heath Information and confidentiality is respected and adhered to during all aspects of the Public Health investigation. Note that employers cannot require employees to submit their personal lab results as a condition of absence or presence at work.

(information as of July 10, 2020)

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Contact with someone tested/confirmed

Employers are required to prohibit persons from entering the workplace if:

  • They have travelled for personal reasons, inside Canada but outside the Atlantic provinces in the previous 14 days.
  • They have travelled outside the country (for work or for personal reasons) in the previous 14 days.
  • They are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  • They have been directed by a physician to self-isolate.
  • They were in close contact within the last 14 days with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

These persons need to self-isolate for 14 days. If an employee who is not symptomatic was in close contact with someone being tested for COVID-19, the employee will need to self-monitor and check with their employer to find out if the employer prefers thatthey stay home.  If the person being tested is subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19, the employee will need to self-isolate.

 (information as of July 16, 2020)

If you are living with or coming into contact with someone who has returned from travel outside of the Atlantic provinces for personal reasons or outside of Canada and who is not symptomatic, you  may still go  to work, provided that the traveller complies with all self-isolation requirements set by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.  Furthermore, you and the traveller will both need to self-monitor for 14 days.  If you or anyone else within your household develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you will need to self-isolate until COVID-19 is ruled out.  If COVID-19 is confirmed, follow Public Health’s advice.

(information as of August 11, 2020)

You should assume that the test may come back positive and in the interim, clean and disinfect any areas where the employee had been in contact or isolate the affected area (s) until you are notified of the results. If possible, close off the potentially contaminated areas until the test is confirmed.  If the test is confirmed positive, follow the advice provided by Public Health.  If there were occasions when this employee was not able to maintain two metres distance with other employees or visitors within the workplace, you must share the log of these occasions with Public Health.   This will be important for contact tracing purposes.   As for your employee, she should self-isolate and wait for further instructions from the Department of Health. 

(information as of May 14, 2020)

The evidence shows that if a person is returning from 14 days of self-isolation and did not exhibit symptoms self-isolation, they should be considered healthy. A doctor’s note is not necessary in this instance provided that the employee confirms they are healthy and shows no symptoms of COVID-19.

(information as of July 10, 2020)

Public Health is monitoring all individuals suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in New Brunswick. Under the guidance of a medical officer, they will provide a letter to the worker and employer that the individual is able to leave self isolation and return to work or other public places. This documentation will not include details of any diagnosis or testing due to privacy legislation. 

(information as of April 23, 2020)

COVID-19 symptoms may resemble those of other illnesses.

The Public Health Agency of Canada lists cough, fever and difficulty breathing among the most common symptoms of the coronavirus. These can also be symptoms of the flu, common cold or any number of other ailments. If an employee is currently symptomatic, they must self-isolate and dial 811.  

If 811 determines a person’s symptoms could indicate COVID-19, that person would be referred for appropriate testing. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, Public Health will provide them with clear direction. Public Health will determine if there is a need to inform the employer of the test results.  If the test result is negative for COVID-19, you may still consider asking the employees to stay home until their symptoms subside. 

(Information as of September 9, 2020)

 

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Pre-existing health condition

(Pre-existing Health Condition of Employee)

Your employer has a legal obligation under the Human Rights Act to accommodate any health condition you may have. This requirement existed before the COVID-19 pandemic began and continues even with the pandemic.

As for your situation with respect to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the New Brunswick Department of Health has developed guidelines for limiting the risk of contracting COVID-19 in both social and work settings. All New Brunswick employers are required to adopt these guidelines in their COVID-19 operational plan. If you have a concern regarding COVID-19 because of your personal health condition you should raise this with your employer. Depending on the circumstances at your workplace, your employer may be able to provide additional protection for you specifically. However, whether additional measures can be provided or not, so long as your employer takes reasonable precautions to ensure your health and safety then you are obligated to go to work as required.

If you are required to wear a respirator and based on your pre-existing condition you are not medically fit to do, then your employer cannot require you to wear that respirator.

Restrictions on respirator use will be identified through your employer's  code of practice on respiratory protection. Your employer then has the legal obligation to  find different work for you that is reasonably safe given your specific condition.

If this response does not address your specific situation, please contact the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.

(information as of May 14, 2020)

(Pre-Existing Health Condition of Household member for Employee)

While your employer is not legally obligated to protect the vulnerable person you are living with, your employer still has an obligation to follow the guidelines for limiting your risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. Given your specific circumstances, your employer may be willing and able to provide you with increased protection. You should exercise care to ensure you are following the guidelines to reduce the risk and use all personal protective equipment required in your job.

As long as your employer takes reasonable precautions to ensure your health and safety and prevent you from coming into contact with the virus, then you are obligated to go to work as required.

(information as of April 17, 2020)

It is important for you to discuss your concerns with your supervisor. It may be possible to modify your work to reduce your exposure to the public during this time. However, at a minimum, WorkSafeNB would expect that your employer is following the guidelines outlined by the Public Health:

  • appropriate protocols in place for cleaning of surfaces (perhaps even an increase in the frequency);
  • enough sanitary equipment (access to soap and water, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, etc.) for frequent and regular use;
  • training for staff on procedures and practices, especially in the event of a symptomatic customer

If you do not believe the proper precautions are in place, you can exercise your right to refuse by first letting your supervisor know of your concerns and if the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can raise the matter with your JHSC, if one is established at your workplace. If you are still not satisfied, please contact a WorkSafeNB health and safety officer at 1 800 999-9775 who will follow-up with your concerns.

More information on the right to refuse dangerous work is available on our website.

(information as of April 17, 2020)

 

As an employer, you are legally obligated under the NB Human Rights Act to accommodate any health condition your employee has, to the point of undue hardship.  Vulnerable populations to COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, those who:

  • Are over 65 years old,
  • Have underlying medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
  • Suffer from serious heart conditions.
  • Are immunocompromised.

If an employee discloses a pre-existing health condition that makes them vulnerable to COVID-19, first examine each of their tasks. Determine their risk of exposure to COVID-19 while performing each of those tasks. If the risk of exposure is high or medium, consider ways you can reduce their exposure. In your operational plan, you should have already identified controls to reduce exposure to all employees as much possible. These controls include screening people entering the workplace, ensuring physical distancing, installing barriers and providing personal protective equipment, such as a mask or respirator. An employee’s health condition may not permit them to wear respiratory equipment. You are legally obligated to consider other tasks that the employee could perform to reduce their risk. Discuss with the employee on how to reduce their exposure, as they may have solutions. Unionized employees may want union representation as well, and this should be permitted.

Be aware that some employees may reveal that they have a pre-existing health condition that you were not previously aware of, as it was not an issue for them until now. You have a duty to accommodate these employees. You do not need to know all the details of the employee’s diagnosis to accommodate them, just enough information to accommodate them properly.  Do not ask for a copy of their medical file or for general medical information, as this is considered private information.  For more information on the duty to accommodate, please contact the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission

(Information as of May 20, 2020)

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Guidelines to protect workers

You must follow all guidance and requirements contained in the State of Emergency and Mandatory Order, comply with the recommendation from the New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health, and implement any guidance issued by Public Health or WorkSafeNB with respect to your individual industry or occupation.

Further, you must have a documented operational plan that specifically addresses COVID-19. This requirement applies to all workplaces, whether you have continued to operate during the pandemic or are planning your re-opening. In order to create an effective operational plan, the employer must conduct a risk assessment to determine the feasibility of physical distancing (i.e. can 2 metres of separation be maintained between persons) as well as the engineering, administrative controls and/or Personal Protective Equipment  controls necessary to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure. The operational plan then documents the specific prevention controls that the employer has put into place. You can find more information on the requirements and guidelines recommended, prevention control measures, and an operational plan template in WorkSafeNB’s Embracing the New Normal guide.

(information as of May 13, 2020)

There are several things you can do to keep common areas safe. Here are some suggestions:

  • Limit the number of people to each common area to ensure those using the space can maintain a distance of at least two metres apart from each other. Staggering breaks, limiting the number of chairs and organizing seating to ensure two metres between each chair are examples of limiting the numbers. 
  • Remove objects that cannot be easily cleaned (newspapers, magazines, fabric furniture, etc. ).
  • Increase frequency of environmental cleaning throughout the day.
  • Unless regularly performed by designated cleaning staff, require employees to disinfect any surface or object in the common area they may contact. 
  • Unless performed immediately by cleaning staff, require employees to clean the surfaces and objects they may contact during their breaks. 
  • Ensure handwashing facilities and/or hand-sanitizing products and disinfecting and cleaning supplies are readily available in the common areas.

Finally measures taken needs to be documented in the operational plan. For more information on an operational plan, please review WorkSafeNB’s Embracing the New Normal guide.

(information as of May 13, 2020)

The most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to ensure employees and customers practise physical distancing. This requires maintaining at least two metres of separation between employees, customers, and visitors.

If an employer cannot consistently maintain a two-meter separation between people due to work activities, this guide provides recommendations for workplaces that cannot maintain two-metre distancing. WorkSafeNB encourages all workplaces to think outside of the traditional work environment and consider alternate working arrangements, such as working remotely, flexible hours, staggered start times, and the use of virtual meetings rather than in-person.

(information as of May 13, 2020)

 

Employers must have a documented operational plan that specifically addresses prevention controls related to COVID-19, based on the exposure risk faced by employees. To create an effective operational plan, the employer must conduct a risk assessment to determine the engineering, administrative controls and/or PPE controls necessary to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure. You can find more information on the operational plan, prevention control measures, and an operational plan template in WorkSafeNB’s Embracing the new normal guide. In this context, tradespersons should consider the following when developing their operational plan: A tradesperson must first inquire if anyone in the home is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (refer to the screening questionnaire for a list of symptoms) or if they have been advised to self-isolate. This should be verified when the homeowner requests a service call. If the client is ill or has been advised to self-isolate, determine if the work is urgent or essential. If it is urgent or essential, request that anyone who is ill or must self-isolate remain in another room during your visit and that high touch surfaces are sanitized before you arrive.

If the client advises you that everyone on site is healthy and when you arrive someone is coughing or appears ill, leave the premises immediately and inform them you will do the work later. When in a house or outdoors, stay two metres away from others, wash your hands often, avoid touching surfaces and clean and sanitize tools between clients. Depending on your work, you may be required to wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks and eye protection.

Please note that workers must be actively screened before agreeing to provide service to a client. If the worker is experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or has been advised to self-isolate, they must not carry out the work.

(information as of May 22, 2020)

 

Every effort must be made to avoid having employees travel in the same vehicle during work activities. The employer should consider implementing alternate transportation options (for example, the use of personal vehicles).
  • If more than one person must travel in the same vehicle, consider installing physical barriers (such as plexiglass) inside the vehicle. Before installing a physical barrier, ensure that it can be installed without introducing additional hazards - such as restricting the driver’s field of vision or inhibiting escape in the event of an accident. Ensure that the barrier is made of a material that is easily cleaned.
  • If installing a physical barrier is not possible and employees must travel together, they must be actively screened before entering the vehicle.
  • Maintain a log of employees travelling together. This must be made available to Public Health for contact tracing purposes if it’s identified that a person who tested positive for COVID-19 was present in the vehicle.
  • Limit the number of persons traveling together to:
    • 2 people for small - medium size vehicles and trucks (normally seat 4 to 5 people) 
    • 4 people for large vehicles such as SUVs normally seating 6 or more people and large trucks that normally seat 5 or 6.
    • 8 people for 15 passengers vans
  • Employees must keep as much space between each other as possible. Persons must not sit directly beside each other, and a passenger must sit in the back seat diagonally across from the driver if traveling in a medium-small vehicle. Employees must keep their same seats throughout the day.
  • The use of non-medical or fabric face coverings is mandatory if a distance of 2m cannot be maintained. Note that special precautions must be taken when such coverings are used.
  • At a minimum, the vehicle must be cleaned and disinfected at the start and end of the shift. It will need to be cleaned and disinfected more often if it is used to transport other employees and/or used for other activities (such as lunch breaks). Controls must be in place to ensure that vehicle sanitization is maintained.
  • When employees are speaking inside the vehicle, they should look straight ahead in order to limit direct face-to-face interaction.
  • Remember that proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette is key to reducing the transmission of the virus. Ensure hand washing or sanitizing supplies are available at all times.
This information may be modified as the Covid-19 outbreak evolves in NB.
(Information as of  September 9, 2020)

Cubicle walls may serve as physical barriers if:

  • They are a minimum of 137.2 cm (54”) or high enough to provide a shield when workers are seated in their workspace. If cubicle walls are less than 54 inches and are not high enough to provide a shield when the worker is seated, another approach to achieve adequate physical distancing is a staggered or ‘checkerboard’ placement of employees at workstations. Additionally, ensure that employees are not facing each other in the adjusted configuration.  
  • They are constructed of a material or are of sufficient thickness that prevents droplets from passing through the wall.
  • They are covered in a material that allows for easy disinfecting. In the event of a positive case of COVID-19 in the workplace, if cubicle walls are fabric it is recommended that they be disinfected according to the manufacturer instructions. If the instructions do not include specific guidelines in respect to COVID-19, the fabric should be covered by a material that can be easily cleaned or replaced.
  • The seating configuration within the cubicle should not position the worker to face the opening (this increases risk of potential exposure through the opening).
  • Supplies are provided for the cleaning and disinfection of work surfaces.
  • Surfaces are cleaned and disinfected at least twice daily by designated employees (employees may be tasked to clean and disinfect their own work area). 

(Information as of May 5, 2020)

The Public Health Agency of Canada has stated that there is no known evidence of COVID-19 spreading through contact with mail or parcels as they generally take days or weeks to be delivered.  However, you can take these precautions to prevent exposure:

  • Sanitize any parcels and envelopes that have a plastic coating with disinfectant approved by Health Canada for COVID-19.
  • Envelopes and parcels that cannot be sanitized should be set aside for a minimum of 24 hours. Designate a location to keep them isolated.
  • When handling envelopes, open the envelope, remove the contents (ensuring that they do not touch the outside of the envelope) and place the contents on a clean surface.
  • Discard packaging material.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when handling mail.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly immediately after handling mail.
  • Remember to allow physical distancing for mail service personnel (whether they are picking up mail or delivering it to you).

(Information as of May 20, 2020)

Active screening is done by an organization’s designated individual(s). The designate asks the screening questions to everyone entering the workplace. If a non-contact thermometer is available (infrared) temperature checks must also be done.     

At a minimum, employees must be screened at the beginning of their shift. 

Active screening is required when:

  • It is not possible to maintain 2 metres distance between workers, clients and/or visitors within the workplace at all times.
  • Co-workers must travel within the same vehicle.
  • A resident from outside the Atlantic provinces has been approved to work on site after submitting a self-isolation plan to WorkSafeNB. These workers must be actively screened for the first 14 days after entering the province. In this case, they may perform temperature checks on themselves and the screening questions may be asked by telephone.

Please note that with active screening, it is also possible to use an electronic system to ask the screening questions if the person is prompted to respond to the questions and the system records the answers. 

Passive screening, on the other hand, is when individuals are asked to screen themselves before entering the workplace. Typically, a sign is posted at the entrance to the workplace listing the screening questions (same questions used when conducting active screening). People must answer the questions before entering the workplace (they are permitted to enter if they answered no to all the questions).  In passive screening, the answers are not recorded and temperature checks are not conducted. 

Passive screening is conducted when it is possible to maintain 2 metres distance at all times between workers, clients and/or visitors within the workplace.  Employees must screen themselves at the beginning of their shift.

In both cases, any person exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 may not enter the workplace. They must self-isolate, dial 811 and follow instructions provided by Public Health. 

(information as of August 20, 2020) 

You are permitted to continue to work in an Orange level zone. However, employers and workers should restrict travel to Orange level zones as much as possible.  If you must work in an Orange level zone, you must follow all Orange level Public Health measures while in the zone.  The following measures have been developed for workers for the 14 days after exiting an Orange level zone:

  • Wear a mask when in public. This includes public and common areas of workplaces, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Be vigilant in self-monitoring for symptoms and get tested as soon as possible if they develop.
  • Limit your contacts to your one-household bubble.
  • Avoid visiting people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, including those in nursing homes and other adult residential facilities.
  • Wash your hands or use sanitizer frequently.
  • Maintain a two-metre distance from others.
  • Avoid gatherings.

Workers living in an Orange level zone and working in a Yellow level zone must follow the same measures outlined above. 

(Information as of November 20, 2020)

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Cleaning

WorkSafeNB recommends following specific guidelines developed by Health Canada for Hard-surface disinfectants for use against coronavirus (COVID-19), including:

  • use the right disinfectant product
  • follow the directions on the label and consult with the supplier data sheet (SDS) if available
  • ensure employees have been instructed and trained on the safe use of the product
  • If the supplier requires personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and goggles, the employee should be trained in how to use and the proper removal to prevent cross-contamination.

For high-touch surfaces such as door handles and phones, Health Canada recommends cleaning these often with either:

  • regular household cleaners or
  • diluted household bleach - sodium hypochlorite (5.25%) (diluted bleach prepared in a ratio of 1 teaspoon (5 mL) per cup (250 mL) OR  4 teaspoons (20 mL) per litre (1000mL)).

Health Canada has approved several hard-surface disinfectants for use against COVID-19

(information as of April 17, 2020)

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First aid

No. Some of the content in the required first aid course modules must be delivered in a classroom setting.  For example, the module on Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation and choking requires the participant be able to perform correct artificial respiration and chest compression methods on adult casualties with different injuries or illnesses such as cardiac arrest and choking emergencies. Furthermore, adult learning principles indicate that instruction is most effective when the participant gets hands-on experience, repetition and practice. Coaching (observation and correction) by the instructor ensures that the participant can correctly apply the lifesaving techniques.

WorkSafeNB has approved first aid training providers who offer blended learning (combination of

computer based and practical training) to re-certify designated first aid providers.  The in-class portion must continue to be performed in-class.

Please note that currently:

  • Students cannot practise on each other or another person during the classroom portion
  • First time certification of new first aid providers can be obtained through blended learning.

(information as of July 10, 2020)

Subsection 8(7) of Regulation 2004-130 - First Aid Regulation requires that a designated first aid provider receive six hours of practice on first aid skills each year during the period they hold a valid certificate. The intent of this provision is to ensure that first aid providers maintain their skills during the three-year certification period.

Please review the legislative interpretation that explains how to accomplish this.  During the pandemic, because of physical distancing restrictions, the six hours of practice can be 6 hours of first aid virtual refresher training, (with or without instructors) provided that the training is delivered by an approved first aid training agency.  

(information as of July 10, 2020)

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Well-being

Do not go to work if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as a fever, coughing, and a general feeling of being unwell. Please note that COVID-19 symptoms vary between individuals and for some, symptoms are mild whereas they may be more severe for others. If your symptoms are consistent with COVID-19 symptoms (please refer to the Government of New Brunswick's assessment tool to assess your status and determine next steps.

(information as of July 10, 2020)

Employees in the workplace may be affected by the anxiety and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 situation. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and to take measures to support mental well-being.

Everyone reacts differently in stressful situations. It is normal to feel sad, anxious, confused, scared or even angry during a crisis and these feelings will change over time.

We encourage you to share tools to help employees cope with their feelings. The Canadian Mental Health Association and many Employee Assistance Programs offer toolkits and resources that can help.

Here are some resources that can help with maintaining mental health in the workplace during this time.

(information as of April 17, 2020)

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Working from home

As workplaces try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, employees may find themselves working from home. While working from home has clear advantages, it’s important to remember that new workspaces can pose concerns. Where you work and how your work is important to your health and safety. That’s why WorkSafeNB developed a tool to help. Visit Working safely from home as we navigate COVID-19 for more information.

It is also important that if you feel discomfort in your home setup, address it as soon as possible. Check out our education material on the topic, Office Ergonomics– Guidelines for Preventing Musculoskeletal Injuries. For more information, please call 1-800-999-9775 and ask to speak to a WorkSafeNB ergonomist.

(information as of July 10, 2020)

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

With a potential shortage of NIOSH approved N95 particulate respirators, a review of the General Regulations, 91-191 and the cited standard for respiratory protection CSA Z94.4-93 was completed. The CSA standard is not restrictive to NIOSH performance standard and therefore other product classification may be adopted.  Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 3M’s evaluation of alternative respirators, WorkSafeNB deems the following as equivalent respirators:

  • KN95 from China;
  • P2, P3 from Australia;
  • PFF2, PFF3 from Brazil and Europe;
  • DS/DL2, DS/DL3 from Japan;
  • Special, 1st class from Korea; and
  • N95 from Mexico.

It is important to note that a fit-test is still required for each of these respirators and they should not be used unless the employee has passed the fit-test. For more information on regulatory requirements for respirators visit the respirator topic page on the OHS App Guide.

Important notice:

Health Canada has determined that certain KN95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators (“respirators”) being made by manufacturers listed on the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) website and possibly being imported to Canada, pose a health and safety risk to end users. Manufacturers of concern are only those that failed to meet 95% filtration specifications.

Learn more:

List of manufacturers, NIOSH; Recall notice, Health Canada

Information clearly identifies models of KN95 having filtration and quality control problems. Certain KN95 respirators are earloop devices and cannot be successfully fit tested. NIOSH has not approved any earloop devices.

Please note: The NB Chief Medical Officer does not recommend the use of surgical masks or N95 respirators as protection from COVID-19 by people outside the health care sector who have no symptoms of respiratory infection (unless under isolation precautions as directed by Public Health). It is NOT necessary to wear an N95 respirator or a surgical mask if you are well and not exhibiting any symptoms. Improperly worn, they may actually increase your risk of infection. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are urgently needed for our health care workers.

For Healthcare:

Health Canada, the regulator for medical devices in Canada, accepts the NIOSH certification as an appropriate quality standard for N95 masks used by health care providers. Health Canada states that equivalent alternate standards are also acceptable.

It is recommended that you consult with Health Canada for their opinion on the list of equivalent respirators provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Learn more:  Center for Disease Control; 3M Science Applied to Life™

(information as of May 26, 2020)

Following discharge of patients with suspect or confirmed COVID- 19 the room must be cleaned using PPE which includes:

  • Surgical or Procedural mask
  • Isolation gown
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection (goggles or face shield)

(information as of May 13, 2020)

It is necessary to have the employees fit tested before they are required to use a respirator, including a disposable N95 respirator.  Fit testing helps ensure a proper seal so that air breathed in is adequately filtered.  It is essential to explore different brands and sizes to achieve the proper fit.  Any facial hair that is in contact with the respirator will prevent a proper seal from being achieved. Therefore, it is necessary to be clean shaven where the respirator seal is to stick to the skin.

Fit testing can be conducted internally if there is a competent person trained in your workplace to do so and you have the equipment required to conduct the tests. You can also complete the training virtually if you are unable to find someone to deliver the training in your workplace There are two types of fit testing: qualitative and quantitative.  The qualitative test relies on the user’s sense of taste or smell, or reaction to an irritant to detect a leakage. Quantitative test measures the actual amount of leakage into the facepiece.  

Learn more about fit testing and other requirements of a code of practice for respiratory protection.

(information as of April 17, 2020)

The use of face masks is mandatory in all indoor public spaces in New Brunswick. Indoor public spaces include workplaces where employees interact with patrons, customers, clients or the general public. Face masks are also mandatory in common areas of all workplaces, such as hallways, washrooms, stairways and elevators. The following guidance applies to non-common areas of workplaces into which the public is not admitted:

If employees in the workplace cannot maintain at least two-metres  distance, all applicable requirements in the Embracing the new normal guide must be addressed in the employer’s operational plan and  meet compliance standards. This includes (where possible) the installation of physical barriers.  If physical barriers are not possible, workers must wear face masks.   Face masks may be composed of paper or cloth, must be at least two layers thick, cover one’s nose and mouth and fit snug against the sides of one’s face and under the chin. Face gaiters, scarfs, and bandanas cannot be used instead of a face mask as they are not as effective at preventing the transmission of viruses.   Additional requirements include active screening, an employee and visitor log, and enhanced hygiene and cleaning practices.

Public Health states, the purpose of face masks is to protect the people around the user. Face shields are designed to protect the user.  Therefore, shields should not be used as a substitute to face masks unless a mask introduces a hazard to the worker. This must be demonstrated by a risk assessment and be part of the employer’s COVID-19 operational plan. One example where face masks must be worn are those occupations that deal directly with the public. For example, servers in a restaurant setting would not be allowed to wear a face shield. Whereas, if there exists a heat stress hazard to kitchen staff due to the hot work environment in the same restaurant, kitchen staff would benefit from wearing a face shield for their own protection.

If a face shield must be used it should extend below the chin and to the ears and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield’s headpiece. For added protection, it is possible to wear a face shield over a face mask.

Other examples of when a mask can introduce a hazard are highly flammable environments or corrosive environments, extreme wet, hot and cold environments, etc.

Please note that the Canadian Lung Association, the Canadian Thoracic Society, and Asthma Canada all support public health recommendations on mask use. There is no evidence that wearing a face mask will aggravate an underlying condition. If an individual experiences challenges with wearing a mask, it is recommended that they be advised to develop strategies to address these challenges and to look for different types and styles of face masks that they may find more comfortable.

For information on wearing face masks, please consult the Government of New Brunswick’s website.

Please also note that this guidance applies to workplaces in the yellow phase. Should your workplace operate in a zone under a different phase, additional requirements might apply.

For healthcare workers:

  • Use of a face shield is an added protective measure when working within two-metres of others to help reduce exposure to a splash, spray, or droplets from those who may be infected.
  • Face shields can substantially reduce the short-term exposure to large infectious aerosol particles, but smaller particles can remain airborne longer and flow around the face shield more easily to be inhaled.
  • Potential disadvantages of wearing face shields continuously include the potential for self-contamination, altered clarity of vision, or discomfort.

(information as of October 19, 2020)

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Privacy

Employees must give informed and voluntary consent before an employer can take and record their temperature.

To help ensure that their temperature is taken accurately, consider asking a trained medical professional to take temperatures if one is available on site. The medical professional may also train others to take temperatures. The training should be documented. 

If there are no trained medical professionals on site, the employer should designate one or more management-level personnel to take temperatures.  This individual should review the directions to use the thermometer or scanning equipment to ensure proper use. That individual should also be trained, and the training process should be documented.

If the temperature is being recorded, employees may also be concerned about the privacy of this data.  Only record the information that is necessary. The information collected when taking the temperature must be kept confidential and in a secure location. Access to the information should be limited to those who need the information to make decisions. Employees should be informed that employers may need to disclose the information to Public Health, if the employee’s temperature is above 38oC. Employees should also be informed of the process to access their records. It is best to keep a digital copy of the data with secured access.  The information should be destroyed once the outbreak is over. Communicate the steps taken to keep the data private with employees.

Despite these efforts, an employee may refuse to have their temperature taken. Though the employee has this right, the employer must ensure that they are taking every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of all employees in the workplace. The employee should be informed that if they refuse to have their temperature taken, the employer can refuse their entry into the workplace. The employer would not be obligated to pay an employee after such a refusal.

(Information as of May 8, 2020)

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Border issues

There are four scenarios under which workers entering the province for work purposes are not required to self-isolate for 14 days before attending work.

  1. The worker and the work to be undertaken fulfill one of the exemptions defined by the Government of New Brunswick, such as work that is unplanned, urgent, and where services are not available in New Brunswick. For more information see the GNB Travel Information website.
  2. A worker that resides in one of the three other Atlantic provinces is coming to work in New Brunswick.
  3. A New Brunswick worker is returning from work in another Canadian province or territory.
  4. A worker from outside of Atlantic Canada is coming into New Brunswick to perform work under the approved isolation components of an operational plan.

Entry into New Brunswick under any other scenario will require the worker to self-isolate for 14 days before attending work. Please note that any travel into New Brunswick is subject to the Government of New Brunswick traveller registration system.  

(information as of July 16, 2020)

Answer:  New Brunswick residents performing work in another Canadian province or territory are not required to self-isolate upon return to New Brunswick and are permitted to continue to work in New Brunswick under the conditions described in the employer’s operational plan. 

(information as of July 16, 2020)

Answer:  As an employer, you have two options.  The first option is to provide accommodations and necessities to them while they self-isolate for 14 days before attending work and to ensure they remain at their accommodations during the self-isolation period.  In this first option, the workers are not able to go to work right away. The second option is to submit the isolation components of your operational plan to WorkSafeNB 15 business days before the workers’ planned arrival.  With an approved application, the workers will be permitted to enter the province and attend work as soon as they arrive. The workers must follow all requirements described in the employer’s isolation plan, including, but not limited to, travel only to and from accommodations and/or worksite, self-isolation while off work, and strict adherence to infection prevention control measures while at work and while travelling. You, as the employer must provide oversight and supervision to ensure that the rules are being followed during work and off duty during the first 14 days. To  submit the isolation components of your operational plan for review, please visit WorkSafeNB’s webpage Safely entering New Brunswick to work amid COVID-19.

(information as of July 16, 2020)

Answer: If you have been outside of Canada, you must complete self-isolation for 14 days as stipulated by the Federal Quarantine Act. For more information on entry into Canada and Canada-U.S. border restrictions, visit the Government of Canada webpage and the Canada Border Services Agency webpage or call 1 800 461-9999.

(Renseignements au 16 juillet 2020)

Workers entering from another country must complete self-isolation for 14 days as stipulated by the Federal Quarantine Act.   However, there are certain exemptions to this self-isolation requirement, depending on the work being done.  For more information on entry into Canada and Canada-U.S. border restrictions, visit the Government of Canada webpage and the Canada Border Services Agency webpage or call 1 800 461-9999.

Important Note: If your workers are found to be exempt from self-isolation under the Federal Quarantine Act, you still need to comply with the provincial entry and self-isolation requirements. Therefore, you need to submit the isolation component of your operational plan to WorkSafeNB as described above.  

(information as of July 16, 2020)

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Safety measures for out-of-province workers

The following questions pertain to workers entering New Brunswick for work purposes from outside the Atlantic provinces.  Isolation elements of the COVID-19 operational plan must be submitted and approved by WorkSafeNB before the workers enter the province.

 

Out-of-province workers must continue to maintain two metres distance among each other outside of regular work hours. Therefore, occupancy must be limited to one worker per room unless two metres of distance can be maintained.

In addition, sharing of washrooms and common areas is only permitted when following effective cleaning and sanitizing procedures. After use of a common area, it must be sanitized with one of the hard-surface disinfectants for use against COVID-19 approved by Health Canada. 

Workers who live in the same household in their home province are permitted to share accommodations without maintaining two metres distance. 

(information as of October 23, 2020)

Out-of-province workers may stay at hotels, motels, rented houses, campers, etc. as long as they can ensure that physical distance of two metres can always be maintained from others (workers and the public) at those accommodations. 

They must make reservations in advance and check in must be contactless.  Out-of-province workers must not use common areas, such as a breakfast area or fitness room, where other guests may be present.

(information as of October 23, 2020)

 

Out-of-province workers are not permitted to enter stores, restaurants, or use drive-thrus for their first 14 days in New Brunswick. Out-of-province workers must get food and other necessities using a non-contact method. Contactless methods include:

  • Order meals and have them delivered to their place of work and/or accommodations.
  • Order meals, groceries or other items and arrange for curbside pick-up.

 

Arrangements must also be in place to identify a designated contact person in New Brunswick in case unanticipated, necessary goods need to be delivered to the place of work and/or accommodations.

(information as of October 23, 2020)

The isolation plan must include the name and contact information of a person responsible for establishing contact with the out-of-province worker during non-working hours to ensure that he/she remains in isolation. This can be anyone within the business.  When possible, the contact should be made through a landline or audio/video chat program.  Alternatively, a call can be made on a cellphone with a method to verify the location of the worker (such as a cellphone tracking application or photo). 

At a minimum, the out-of-province worker must be called once per day during non-working hours.  The person responsible for making the calls should record the dates and times of calls and if they spoke to the worker. Supervision must continue during weekends and holidays.

(information as of October 23, 2020)

Conduct active screening by a designated individual on site at the beginning of the out-of-province worker’s shift.  COVID-19 screening questions may be asked by a New Brunswick worker who is at the same workplace as the out-of-province worker.  Alternatively, the questions related to COVID-19 symptoms may be asked by phone by a designated individual at the company outside of the Atlantic provinces. Active screening can also be done using an electronic system that prompts the worker to respond to the screening questions while the system records the answers. 

The temperature of the out-of-province worker must be taken on site if a contactless thermometer (such as infrared) or another acceptable device is available. If a contactless thermometer is not available, the out-of-province worker can take and record their own temperature and report it to the person asking the screening questions.

(information as of October 23, 2020)

Ideally, out-of-province workers will travel in a vehicle alone.  If necessary, an out-of-province worker may travel with others if they respect the guidelines for wearing face masks, good hygiene and cleaning and disinfection as outlined in the FAQ on travelling together for work.    

If renting a vehicle, the rental pickup must be contactless. High-touch points must be cleaned and sanitized. Out-of-province workers must pay for fuel without contact. They may not enter the gas station.

(information as of October 23, 2020)

Ideally, the out-of-province worker will have access to their own dedicated washroom at work.  If this is not possible, ensure that only one person enters the washroom at a time.  The washroom should be sanitized after each use by the out-of-province worker.  As much as possible, the out-of-province worker must avoid using public washrooms.  If they must use a public washroom, they must wear a mask, abide by all hygiene requirements, and sanitize common touch surfaces after use.  Proper hand hygiene is critical for all employees.

(information as of October 23, 2020)

No, they cannot enter laundromats. They must arrange drop-off and pick- up of their laundry without contact.  Many hotels offer laundry service, which is acceptable, or laundry may be co-ordinated by the designated contact person in New Brunswick.

(information as of October 23, 2020)

Ideally, the isolation plan should be prepared by a New Brunswick-based employer. All New Brunswick-based businesses must have a COVID-19 operational plan to operate during the pandemic. The isolation plan is a component of this larger operational plan.   

WorkSafeNB health and safety officers can follow up easily with the out-of-province workers when they are connected to a New Brunswick employer.

While it is acceptable for a business based outside of the Atlantic provinces to develop the isolation plan, they must share the components of the isolation plan with the New Brunswick-based employer(s).   WorkSafeNB must receive the written confirmation from the New Brunswick-based employer(s) that they understand and agree with the isolation plan. 

Please note: Businesses entering the province without connection to a New Brunswick business must submit their full operational plan to WorkSafeNB.

(information as of November 13, 2020)

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