For people with underlying medical conditions, return to work means a return to transit or travelling in one way or another.
Here are some things to think about as you move around by car, in a company vehicle or on public transit:
COVID-19 is currently thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
The basics: At all times, avoid crowded areas and contact with people who have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing. Wear a mask and wash your hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds. Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you in case soap and water are not available. And, practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette.
Travelling in a vehicle with other employees: If you feel sick, stay home, DO NOT come to work and inform your supervisor. Or, if you become sick while at work, STOP working, isolate yourself from others, inform your Supervisor and go home as soon as possible, avoiding public transportation and taking measures to protect others around you.
If you had a close contact with a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days, DO NOT come to work and inform your supervisor. If you are worried that you were exposed to COVID- 19 or have symptoms, take the Public Health Ontario COVID-19 self-assessment for guidance on next steps OR visit an assessment centre near you to get tested. For a complete list of COVID-19 related symptoms, refer to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms.
Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) recognizes the need for some employees to make essential trips to various locations (e.g., safety inspections, repairs and research stations) in the course of their work. In order to ensure that physical distancing is practiced during these trips, it is recommended that:
- Each employee travels in a vehicle (either their own or the company-owned) without a passenger.
- If travel alone is not possible, employees travel in a large enough vehicle to maintain at least two metres from each other with masks.
If these options are not feasible, and employees must travel together in a vehicle where 2 metre physical distancing cannot be achieved, the following precautionary measures should be followed:
Hand hygiene: Immediately before and after each trip, everyone should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Dry hands with a paper towel or with cloth towel that no one else will share. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Mask: Everyone inside the vehicle should wear a non-medical mask during each trip as it can reduce the spread of their own respiratory droplets to others. Non-medical masks may not provide complete protection against viral particles. Wash your hands immediately before putting the mask on and immediately after taking it off (in addition to practicing good hand hygiene while wearing it).
Cover your nose and mouth with a mask and make sure it fits comfortably against the side of your face. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing their mask and wash your hands immediately or use hand sanitizer after removing. For a disposable mask, discard properly, replace it as soon as it gets soiled, damp, damaged or difficult to breathe through.
What to bring: In addition to the tools, parts and/ or equipment required for the job, take the following on the trip:
- Supplied cleaners or disinfectants
- Disposable gloves for use in cleaning and disinfection
- Disposable garbage bags
- Extra non-medical face masks
- Hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol
- Tissues and or wipes
- Charger and mobile phone
All personnel should handle their own personal bags and belongings during loading and unloading and limit intermixing for team travel in taxis/Ubers.
Keep your distance: Minimize the number of passengers (e.g., the driver and only one passenger in a four-door or standard-sized vehicle, including a king cab pickup truck, and two passengers in a van with two benches) and the distance between the individuals inside the vehicle. The passenger in a four door or standard-sized vehicle should sit in the back seat opposite to the driver.
Air quality: Avoid using the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation. Use the car’s vents to bring in fresh outside air and drive with the windows open. Minimize contact with frequently touched surfaces such as door frame/handles, windows, seatbelt buckles, steering wheel, gearshift, signalling levers, and other vehicle parts before cleaning and disinfection.
Gloves should be removed with care to avoid skin contact with the outside of the glove. Always wash your hands immediately after removing the gloves or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol. Follow appropriate steps to take off gloves.
Clean and disinfect: Before and after each trip, clean/ disinfect the frequently touched surfaces in the vehicle. And, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the use of disinfectants and wear disposable gloves if needed to avoid skin irritation.
Respiratory etiquette when coughing or sneezing:
Cough or sneeze into the elbow or a tissue, even with a face mask on. Dispose of any tissues used as soon as possible in a garbage bag.
Travel for work outside Canada: The government of Canada is advising all Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice. Know that if you are outside Canada:
- You may have difficulty obtaining essential products and services and face quarantines.
- Your insurance may not cover your travel or medical expenses.
- You may only have access to limited consular services.
Check the quarantine requirements at your destination, and be aware that you will have to self-isolate for 14 days when you return to Canada.
If you must travel: Register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service. Make sure your contact information is complete and up to date. This will allow consular officials to contact you, provide updates and confirm your situation. Regularly check your destination’s Travel Advice and Advisories.
- Monitor local media to stay informed of the situation.
- Follow the advice of local authorities.
- Keep important documents in a safe, but easy to access, place.
- Make sure your passport is valid for six more months.
- Make sure you have enough money, medication, food and water in case you can’t leave due to movement restrictions.
- Make sure you have a local SIM card and charger.
- Contact your family and friends until you return to Canada as soon as you can.
The moral of the story: When travelling, and/or commuting, during COVID-19, follow recommended precautions while on the road. Wash your hands and be especially careful to change your clothing when you return home before the welcoming hugs, wipe down parcels, briefcases, suitcases or any items you’re bringing home.