In response to the pandemic, the Board assembled health experts, employers, building owners and other leaders in the Region to identify ways the risk of COVID transmission could be lowered in shared spaces.
These leading practices are the result of that work and are organized around four core themes:
- Safe district
- Safe buildings
- Safe workplaces, and
- Safe travel.
While no single measure is effective on its own, taken together these can help prevent COVID spreading between people in close contact and through touch. In all cases, people should practice physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette – like coughing into your arm.
To learn more about each mitigation, contact local health or government authorities.
Techniques to provide safety and confidence in shared spaces, such as buildings, transit stations and food and retail shops.
- Consider personnel for enforcing public health protocols. Places that are open to the public may identify new roles or need new personnel to manage compliance with public health protocols.
- Develop a private screening or diagnostic testing process. Screen and identify employees or visitors who are ill.
- Screen for symptoms and record visitor contact information. Screen for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors and collect information to support contact tracing.
Track potential exposures in the workplace. Track and notify employees and visitors of potential COVID-19 exposure.
Support quarantine and isolation. Support employees to successfully quarantine or self-isolate.
Techniques to improve ventilation, air flow and filtering in buildings to help reduce transmission risk.
- Create standards and accreditations for building safety. Assure returning employees and visitors that safety measures are in place with third-party standards and accreditations when it comes to air quality.
- Communicate ventilation safety measures to employees and visitors. Employee confidence can increase with clear communication of the safety measures that have been implemented.
- Monitor and display an indoor Air Quality Index. This can improve understanding of, and confidence in, ventilation.
- Coordinate energy approaches internally and with neighbouring buildings to reduce negative side-effects. Steps to increase indoor airflow can have negative side-effects, like creating indoor wind tunnels or increasing energy use for heating or cooling.
- Enhance and maintain effective HVAC filters. Use the most effective air filters possible for a building’s HVAC system – including increasing the amount of outdoor air in an HVAC system to reduce the recirculation of air.
- Test HVAC systems regularly. Run regular HVAC system tests to ensure they are performing effectively and reassure building occupants, particularly before reopening dormant spaces.
- Prepare an HVAC Contingency Plan. A contingency plan is critical to continue ventilation in the event of an HVAC system failure – including by opening doors and windows at opposite ends of space.
- Maintain optimum relative humidity. Humidity affects the time virus particles can remain suspended in the air.
- Increase ventilation when cleaning. Having the building’s ventilation system running at maximum may assist with removing virus particles from the space.
Techniques to maintain good hygiene and social distancing throughout the day in workplaces, including elevators, corridors and other common spaces.
- Create standards and accreditations for workplace safety. Reassure returning employees and visitors that safety measures are in place with third-party standards and accreditations when it comes to mitigations.
- Standardize internal communication of plans, policies and signage across an area. Help people to quickly understand the expected behaviours.
- Develop, maintain and communicate up-to-date COVID-19 Safety Plans. Collaborate and consult with employees, contractors and other stakeholders in your COVID Workplace Safety Plan to ensure widespread understanding and compliance.
- Install plexiglass dividers. When physical distance cannot be maintained, plexiglass dividers can provide a protective barrier between people.
- Establish cohorts and workforce bubbles. Assign employees to bubbles to limit the potential spread through the workforce if someone gets ill.
- Deploy technology to help maintain physical distance. Technology can help maintain safe physical distance of two metres, like devices that notify you when you’re in close contact.
- Implement directional signage to maintain distancing. Distance markings, directional signage and information to help physical distancing
- Limit elevator capacity and increase stairwell access. Reducing time spent in shared areas can support physical distancing.
- Stagger entry and exit times. Stagger when employees start and end their workday, as well as breaks, to prevent overcrowding in common areas.
- Configure indoor spaces for physical distancing and reduce touchpoints. The less occasions for employees to gather and touch surfaces, the better.
Provide employees with face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Ready access to PPE will ensure compliance, helping to prevent transmission.
Disinfect surfaces and indoor spaces using electrostatic sprayers. Electrostatic sprayers are more efficient than conventional backpack sprayers.
Create touchpoint cleaning and hand sanitizer stations. Clean all touchpoints and shared equipment, including escalator handrails, door handles and elevator push buttons.
Techniques to rebuild confidence in transit safety, alongside enabling distanced walking and cycling.
Increased and responsive transit service is helping maintain physical distancing. Transit operators have implemented demand-responsive bus services in addition to scheduled service, where there is a risk of crowding.
Mask distribution programs on transit. Mask distribution ensures riders are properly equipped and encourages compliance.
Provide customers with transit crowding data. Crowding information can help customers plan trips for less crowded times or wait for a less busy vehicle.
Enhanced public transit vehicle cleaning. Cleaning and hygiene measures can help rider safety.
Build awareness of public transit safety. Public information campaigns build awareness of the safety measures on public transit and help to build confidence.
Enhance cycle parking. Providing visitor and workplace cycle parking or storage can support employees and visitors less comfortable taking transit.
Enhanced winter cycle lane clearing. Clearing cycle lanes will allow their safe use throughout the winter months.
Enhanced road space for walking and cycling. Cities and building owners are providing widened sidewalks and protected lanes for cycling to facilitate social distancing and keep people moving.
The following five key risk factors should be considered when making your safety plan:
Prolonged exposure. Spending more time with potentially infected people
Close proximity. Being close to others (typically within two-metres or six feet)
Crowded places. Having more people in a space
Closed spaces. Indoor spaces with less fresh air (being indoors is riskier than being outdoors)
Forceful exhalation. Activities that cause people to breath more deeply, such as exercise, speaking loudly and singing