Workplace Planning Tools and Workforce Resources

by Dr. Justine Taylor

Workplace Resources


AAFC: Workplace guidance for sector employers and employees (Public health advice from Public Health Agency of Canada), Checklist for the control of COVID-19 in agricultural facilities

CAHRC: Information and Tips on COVID-19 including access to the AgriHR Toolkit

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Pandemic tip sheet, Food processing tip sheet, Agriculture tip sheet, Information Sharing Portal (voluntary database of resources)

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has released the e-course Pandemic Planning: Reopening for Business, to help organizations across Canada safely return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The course will guide employers, supervisors, managers and workers on how to prepare for a safe return to work, and what controls are needed to be put in place to protect everyone and minimize the impact of the pandemic. Topics covered in the course include how coronavirus spreads and its symptoms, employer and worker duties and responsibilities in a COVID-19 return to business plan, methods of control (including cleaning and disinfecting), how to manage the workplace and prepare workers for a safe return, and understanding the impacts of a pandemic on mental

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Resources (CCOHS) recently released new guidance material on COVID-19 Prevention for Workers, which includes information on what workers can do to protect themselves and others from COVID 19, and the rights and responsibilities of workers when it comes to health and safety in the workplace.  As a reminder, CCOHS has a lot of valuable information available online. This includes a customizable tool kit and access to more than 40 free resources, including a COVID-19: Workplace Health and Safety Guide, and Tip Sheets specific to Agriculture and Food Processing. The Tool Kit option allows workplaces to download the guide on its own or bundle other industry and workplace-specific tip sheets, infographics, and posters to create a customized and comprehensive COVID-19 tool kit tailored to their industry or specific workplace needs.

Public Health Agency of Canada: Risk-Informed Decision Making Guidelines for Workplaces

Canadian Horticulture Council: Preparing for COVID-19 on your farm – last updated June 4, 2020, COVID-19 Information Centre

Food Processing Skills Canada – Food Processing Skills Canada has developed two new resources in support of food and beverage manufacturers that employ temporary foreign workers, and participants in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

  1. Temporary Foreign Workers During COVID-19 – e-Learning for Foreign Workers Preparing to Work in Canada: This e-learning course is available for free until July 15th and will assist temporary foreign workers in integrating comfortably into Canada during COVID-19 with best practice to keep their family and workplaces safe.
  2. Employers’ Guide to COVID-19 and the Temporary Foreign Worker: This free downloadable employer resource provides a straightforward review of the impacts COVID-19 has had on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and offers a quick reference guide on travel, pre-arrival, self-isolation, workplace preparation and employee support.

April 14, 2020: CFIA guidance: Prevention of and response to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 by operators

CFIA has prepared the linked guidance document outlining their expectations for operations to have in place prevention and mitigation measures and response plans. While the document is written form the perspective of protecting CFIA inspectors, much of the information is relative to your own planning process. The following is the high level expectations:

Operators are encouraged to take strong preventative measures to help mitigate the risks to individuals within their premises. They should also document these measures. It is recognized that certain public health measures may not be possible in some operations. Documentation should recognize this and outline the preventative measures that are in place.

For example, where the public health guidance for physical distancing is 2 metres, but cannot easily be accommodated, it may be possible to:

  • adjust on-site inspection practices and frequencies,
  • increase the distance between CFIA employees and location staff, or
  • adjust traffic patterns through the premises to avoid “people-congested” areas.

Operators are also encouraged to have plans that respond to both suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. Relevant definitions from PHAC are provided in the Annex. Operators are encouraged to consult with local public health authorities for applicable guidance.

See the above link for more information.


NEW: Active screening requirements

Just a reminder that as regional threats levels change you should familiarize yourselves with the new requirements. Threat levels and requirements can be found here:

COVID-19 response framework: keeping Ontario safe and open |

You should also make sure you have your COVID-19 Workplace Safety plan in place. Details can be found below. Many compliance agencies are currently doing a blitz so make sure you have your paperwork in order.

In the above link one of the requirements is for active screening. See below for the details.

Screen actively

Starting September 26, 2020, employers must actively screen every worker before they enter the workplace at the start of their shift as described in the instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

  • Active screening may be done in person at the workplace or remotely using telephone, internet (online), email submission or an app prior to entry.
  • Actively screen each person entering the workplace for work purposes, including workers, volunteers, suppliers and contractors.
  • Screening should occur before or when the person arrives at the workplace at the beginning of their shift or visit.
  • Use the COVID-19 screening tool for workplaces or ensure that your screening process includes all the questions from the screening tool.
  • A screener should advise anyone who does not pass the screening:
    • that they may not enter the workplace, including any outdoor, or partially outdoor, workplaces
    • to go home to self-isolate immediately
    • to contact their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) to find out if they need a COVID-19 test and for further instructions

Make sure screeners receive information and instruction on how to perform this work safely and what to do if a person must be excluded from the workplace.

You can also:

  • screen visitors and clients by phone or through an app before they arrive for their appointment
  • consider actively monitoring workers for symptoms more than once during their shift

NEW CME Update: COVID requirements perspectives from LeClair & Associates – Management Law (see attached)

Taken from a CME update: Over the past few days there have been several reports regarding colour coded zones, new requirements around the compulsory wearing of masks, face shields and added access control measures. It has been the priority of the team at LeClair & Associates throughout to keep you and your organizations up to date and empowered. With many online reports about these changes being less than accurate, LeClair and Associates have put together the above attachment that details what the law requires and how each of these issues are to be approached and applied. There is some really good info in the attachment, which is only 2 pages, take the time to review it.


OMAFRA Toolkit Version 3 released

The Working with farm operators to stop the spread of COVID-19 on farms resource (also known as the Toolkit) was updated by OMAFRA on November 16, 2020. The following sections were updated:

  • Prevention: additional information on screening and cohorts
  • Where to get a test: updated information on how to access testing at assessment centres and select pharmacies
  • Off-site accommodations: section updated
  • Wage support programs: updated information on federal support programs and contacts

Looking for volunteers for OMAFRA’s antigen quick test pilot

OMAFRA in collaboration with Ontario Health is looking to run an antigen quick test pilot on-farm and is looking for volunteers. The tests will be free but need to be administered by a health care professional. We expect there will be some costs associated with this if you don’t have in-house staff with this designation. We expect the use case will be to test employees on a regular basis in order to quickly identify any potential positive cases before they spread to other employees. Please let me know directly if you are interested. (

OMAFRA has updated their online toolkit with the following new sections:

  • The following sections were updated on August 11, 2020:
    • Prevention: updated the non-medical masks as source control and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) sections
    • What happens after testing: added new information about the public health response under different scenarios
    • Notifications: additional information added about reporting a positive case to the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development (MLTSD) and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
    • Wage assistance programs: additional information provided

Contact: Ph:1-877-424-1300, e-mail:

Joint OMAFRA-Industry Prevention and Control Strategy

OMAFRA, in partnership with the agri-food sector announced their prevention and control strategy. Please see the following for the strategy and an update to the agri-food COVID-19 toolbox.

Ontario Government:


Contract Workers: Based on information available about the recent COVID-19 outbreaks on farms, it has become apparent that growers employing contract workers face an increased risk of an outbreak amongst their SAWP/TFWP workers. To protect SAWP/TFWP workers and prevent an outbreak on the farm, we urge growers to take extra precautions if contract workers must be brought to the farm in order to carry out necessary farm activities. Growers are encouraged to do their due diligence when hiring through contract agencies and carefully weigh the need for contract labour on top of their existing SAWP/TFWP workforce and the risk it poses. Please see the WSPS guidance for employers using contract workers (recruitment/temp agencies).

Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development

All growers should consider the following when preparing their workplace to reduce the spread of COVID-19. MLTSD will be inspecting these items during their random audits which are ongoing.

    • Information/Education of workers/visitors
      • Signs, meetings, policies, training
    • Social distancing measures
      • PPE/barriers where not possible, staggered shifts/breaks
    • Screening Measures
      • For all workers and visitors: symptoms, contacts, travel
    • Cleaning and Disinfection
      • With an emphasis on high touch
    • PPE
      • Ensure appropriate supplies in place

You should consider these items in the context of the workplace (greenhouse and packing shed), bunkhouse and during transportation.

Post your policies: All employers need to post and communicate COVID-19 policies to workers. These policies should cover how the workplace will operate, including, but not limited to:

    • the sanitation of the workplace
    • how workers report illnesses
    • how to ensure physical distancing
    • how work will be scheduled
    • screening measures

If an employer is advised that a worker has tested positive for COVID-19 due to exposure at the workplace, or that a claim has been filed with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), the employer is required to notify:

    • the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development in writing within four days
    • the workplace joint health and safety committee or a health and safety representative
    • a trade union (if applicable)

Considerations for Ontario Ministry of Labour Inspections (from Manufacturing sector)

  • Established COVID policies
  • Policies to maintain 6ft distancing while doing work throughout the operation
  • Employees know of and understood the COVID procedures
  • Employees aware of procedures for wiping down equipment in between shifts.
  • Identify touch points where cross contamination could occur.
  • Policies for “deep cleaning “ if a COVID case is confirmed or suspected.
  • Policies for wiping down of machinery and equipment after each use
    • Frequency of wipe downs – after each use vs after each shift
    • Transfer of materials from one department to the next
  • Cafeteria social distancing policies
  • Masks and PPE policy
  • Communication strategies with employees
    • How did we communicate all changes and updates?
    • How can we confirm the employees have received and read the information?
  • Training: How did we train our employees to make sure they know how to follow any new procedures (ie. Additional cleaning) and how can we prove they have received the training.
  • Other policies for consideration
    • Policy regarding absences, screening and tracking all absences and a proper return to work plan for each person, mandatory quarantining after travel -Policies around closing boardrooms, fitness centre, cancelling all internal and external meetings and travel, adjusting start and end times to avoid shift overlap, cleaners should be on a different schedule



WSIB’s Health and Safety Excellence program is flexible and meets businesses where they are on their health and safety journey  The program provides rebates on WSIB premiums and digital badges featured on WSIBs Safety Check webpage for health and safety improvements including policies and procedures to address COVID-19.

The program includes a roadmap for pandemic readiness and recovery to guide and support businesses in building stronger health and safety programs to ensure they can ride the wave of the pandemic and beyond.

The roadmap helps businesses maintain operations safely and confidently and increase resiliency. It features pathways for different business needs and sizes, and guides through four key steps to recovering and rebuilding a health and safety program:

  • Identify, assess and control hazards
  • Resume and maintain operations
  • Build resiliency and sustainability
  • Evaluate and ensure continual improvement

The attached slide deck provides an overview of the program and the discounts available.

WSPS is one of our approved providers for the Excellence Program and can also be contacted directly to enroll: Use of WSPS as a provider would also qualify for support under the CAP Agri-food Workplace Protection Program. This program covers some of the consultation costs if you chose to use WSPS as a service provider. Other providers are available but are not supported by the aforementioned CAP program. Consultation costs are expected to be minimal compared to savings.

Also attached is the Roadmap for pandemic readiness and recovery for small and medium/large businesses and a more concise HSEp/COVID-19 hand-out as well.

OHCOW: Ontario posters & resources (including many translated into Spanish), Comprehensive list of Canadian, US, and Mexican resources (English & Spanish resources)

Ontario Apple Growers: Infection Control and Prevention Policy


World Health Organization: COVID-19 and food safety: guidance for food businesses

United Fresh: Food Industry Recommended Protocols When Employee/Customer Tests Positive for COVID- 19, Guidance for Fruit and Vegetable Operations: Considerations to Protect Seasonal Workers Supporting Fruit and Vegetable Operations during Harvesting and Processing and in Shared/Communal Housing During COVID-19,

CDC: Manufacturing Workers and Employers – Interim Guidance from CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Agricultural Employer Checklist for Creating a COVID-19 Assessment and Control Plan, Agriculture Workers and Employers Guidance,

LEAR: Safe Work Playbook: An interactive guide for COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness and Response

BDC: COVID-19: Business planning tools for entrepreneurs, Best practices to protect your employees during the pandemic

UC Davis: Food Safety Resources

BC Ministry of Health: Protecting Farm Workers and Temporary Foreign Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic (May 13, 2020)

WorkSafe BC: Information for Agriculture and Workplace Safety How Companies Can Get Employees Back to the Workplace Safely

Workforce Tools

May 26, 2020: ESDC has released a guidance document for Temporary Foreign Workers. Please provide this to your workforce. English, French, Spanish

Posters: OGVG has collected a number of resources available to you in different languages here. These include information about public health, testing and support programs aimed at agri-food employees.

EMS: 911 poster for Employers, 911 Poster for Employees

Please see the attached link for a large list of COVID-19 multi-lingual resources.

HUB Connect App: Please encourage your workforce to download the App to get the most up to date information on COVID in their communities. Google  Apple

U.S. CDC Print Resources in multiple languages.

U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration – Publications

State of Michigan – COVID-19 Spanish Resources


Related Articles

Leave a Comment

19 − 8 =