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COVID-19 Safety & Health Update for Employees

Updated March 26, 2021

As of March 26, Dr. Fitzgerald has reduced the alert levels across the province with all regions moving to Alert Level 2.

Full details on what each level entails can be found on the NL Covid-19 website.

While this move is a great relief, as it means our case numbers have dropped and the risk of community transmission has declined, we have seen how quickly the situation can change with the B117 variant and we must continue to be vigilant.

CORPORATE PANDEMIC RESPONSE PLAN – RECOVERY PLAN UPDATE

With the updates to the provincial alert levels, we will be following suit and moving all regions to a consistent recovery phase.

All regions will move to Phase D on Saturday, March 27.

• In keeping with public health guidelines, employees whose primary work space is an administrative office/worksite, or who are already effectively working from home, should continue to work from home where possible with consultation with their manager or supervisor.
• If an employee feels more comfortable working from the office, or is unable to work effectively from home, they are encouraged to speak with their manager or supervisor and coordinate a return to their building.
• During this phase, occupancy of buildings/floors/functional areas can increase up to 75-100% of maximum occupancy limits that permit physical distancing, as determined by facilities management representatives. Individual sites or buildings may have varied occupancy limits.
• All jobs/tasks/activities must incorporate COVID-19 transmission into the risk assessment and ensure the appropriate control measures are in place. Where physical distancing can not be maintained, the Risk Assessment Guidance Document and Safe Work Procedure must be applied.
• All reasonable efforts should be put in place to reduce the probability of exposure to COVID-19.

The updated Pandemic Response Plan – Recovery Plan can be found on the GRID

Testing for Intra-Provincial Travel
With the move to a consistent alert level across the entire province, we will no longer be conducting COVID-19 testing for travel between the majority of communities. Testing for travel to Muskrat Falls will continue as will testing for travel to Indigenous communities in Labrador.

Testing for Out-of-Province Exempted Workers
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a Special Measures Order in place outlining a 14-day self-isolation exemption for asymptomatic workers who are and coming to NL from outside the province (i.e. contracted workers or temporary workers). In addition to the provincial regulations already in place, we are implementing a testing policy for exempted workers.

The policy requires any exempted worker to complete two COVID-19 tests – the first within 48 hours prior to arrival to the worksite and the second in days 7-9 after the initial test. It also requires that we notify any relevant stakeholders prior to worker mobilization.

The policy is available on the GRID.

 

Previous Updates

Updated March 15, 2021

On March 12, 2021 Dr. Fitzgerald updated the provincial alert levels – the Avalon region is now in Alert Level 4 while the remainder of the province moved to Alert Level 3.
As you can appreciate, this situation is evolving and we will be updating you as decisions are made and we receive further direction from Public Health.

CORPORATE PANDEMIC RESPONSE PLAN – RECOVERY PLAN UPDATE

With the updates to the provincial alert levels, we will be following suit and implementing a staggered approach to our recovery phases.

At this time, the Avalon region will move to Phase B, while the remainder of the province moves to Phase C.

Phase B Overview (Avalon region)

  • Anyone who can effectively work from home shall continue to do so until further notice.

If an employee is required to work on site:

  • A COVID-19 testing policy/protocol may be implemented to screen asymptomatic employees and contractors prior to travelling for work purposes between specified areas of the province/company.
  • Jobs, work activities, tasks, services and functions that require no or minimal close physical interaction with members of the general public, other co-workers, visitors, clients or customers, or contractors may be prioritized for resumption since they reduce the probability of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Operational work activities and tasks, such as outdoor work and tasks that can be done alone or in small groups/crews may resume. Indoor, plant/site based work that can be completed with physical distancing measures in place may also resume.
  • Occupancy of buildings/floors/functional areas should not exceed 25% – 50% of maximum occupancy limits that permit physical distancing, as determined by facilities management representatives. A risk based approach shall be utilized to ensure physical distancing can be implemented for occupants.
  • For administrative work environments, staff with dedicated offices or workspaces that do not require material alterations in order for physical distancing to be maintained, may return to the workplace, if necessary, and in consultation with their Supervisor and the facilities management representative to ensure occupancy limits for the area are not exceeded.
  • All jobs/tasks/activities must incorporate COVID-19 transmission into the risk assessment and ensure the appropriate control measures are in place. Where physical distancing can not be maintained, the Risk Assessment Guidance Document and Safe Work Procedure must be applied.

Phase C (all other regions)

  • It is preferable for employees to continue to work from home where possible as required, if their primary work space is an administrative office/worksite or if they are already effectively working from home.
  • The re-opening of food services will be considered at this phase.

If an employee is required to work on site:

  • A COVID-19 testing policy/protocol may be implemented to screen asymptomatic employees and contractors prior to travelling for work purposes between specified areas of the province/company. At this phase the application of the testing policy may be revisited to reflect the overall risk of COVID-19 transmission in the province while also considering regional differences in risk.
  • Jobs, work activities, tasks, services and functions that involve physical interaction with the general public, other co-workers, visitors, clients or customers, or contractors, that have not already resumed under a previous phase. All work must be completed with physical distancing measures in place.
  • All reasonable efforts should be put in place to reduce the probability of exposure to COVID-19.
  • For administrative work environments, staff situated in cubicles or open workspaces where material alterations are needed in order for physical distancing to be maintained, may return to the workplace in accordance with direction from facilities management.
  • Occupancy of buildings/floors/functional areas should not exceed 50% – 75% of maximum occupancy limits that permit physical distancing, as determined by facilities management representatives.
  • All jobs/tasks/activities must incorporate COVID-19 transmission into the risk assessment and ensure the appropriate control measures are in place. Where physical distancing can not be maintained, the Risk Assessment Guidance Document and Safe Work Procedure must be applied.

 

The updated Pandemic Response Plan – Recovery Plan can be found on the GRID

 

UPDATE TO TIMESHEET CODES RE: SCHOOLS AND CHILD CARE

With the announcement that regulated child care centres will open across the province on Monday, March 15 and K-9 schools will open on Thursday, March 18, we will be discontinuing the use of the pandemic care code (Code 31) effective week ending March 21. This code was available to help support our employees in balancing work and family responsibilities while child care services and schools were closed.

For areas in Alert Level 4 people should continue to limit contacts (beyond work and school) to their household bubble; however those who need to expand their bubble to include a caregiver for children or a sick family member can now do so.

As was our practice prior to COVID-19, employees experiencing childcare or other family issues which impact availability to work, can avail of paid family leave or annual leave in consultation with their supervisor.

All other pandemic payroll codes will remain in effect.

Code 30 – Use this code if you are sick and experiencing flu-like symptoms.
*Code 31 – TO BE DISCONTINUED MARCH 21 – Use this code if you are impacted by the current public health restrictions and are (1) unable to work due to childcare obligations, (2) need to balance work and childcare obligations or (3) caring for an immediate family member who is ill with COVID-19. Use of this code must be approved by the supervisor, in consultation with HR as needed.
Code 32 – Use this code if you are required to isolate (or isolate with a family member), but not symptomatic and are working from home.
Code 33 – Use this code if you are required to isolate (or isolate with a family member), but not symptomatic and cannot work from home.

 

UPDATE TO TESTING REFERRAL FORMS

There have been updates to the testing referral forms found on the GRID in order to fix issues some users were experiencing.

 

Previous Updates

Work From Home

Due to the rapid increase in cases and the province moving to Alert Level 5, all employees who are able to work from home should do so. Although the majority of new cases are linked to a COVID-19 variant, Dr. Fitzgerald has been clear in recent briefings that the same measures still apply to keep people safe (i.e. wearing a non-medical mask, physical distancing, sanitizing/washing hands frequently, etc.). Dr. Fitzgerald was also clear that the risk isn’t from buildings, it’s from interactions with people where proper measures aren’t followed. Rest assured that all of the measures Dr. Fitzgerald listed in her recent briefings to keep people safe are all measures we currently have in place across our work sites.

For those who cannot work from home, please consult with your manager or supervisor; priority and maintenance work will continue as our operations are an essential service. We have learned a great deal since last year, and our safety protocols have evolved with us. Any work that can be done safely and is deemed low risk may continue provided it can be done safely, following a risk assessment and in consultation with your manager or supervisor.

Rest assured, we take this new variant and the situation very seriously and will engage work with your safety top of mind. As mentioned yesterday, this is an evolving situation, and we know many of you will have questions. We will continue to adapt and update you as more information becomes available or as the situation changes.

Business Continuity Plans

To best ensure we are able to successfully navigate any changes that may come about due to Public Health directives, we are asking that all areas revisit their Business Continuity Plans. Please make any revisions that are necessary, ensure your plans are adequate for our current situation and once updated please re-submit to PatsyDymond@nlh.nl.ca

If you are updating your plan, the toolkit is still available on the GRID in the COVID-19 section.

Daily Health Screening Update

With the change to Public Health guidelines, our Daily Health Screening Tool has been updated to reflect the change to ONE new or worsening symptom from the previous TWO symptoms assessing the need for testing. All employees, visitors and contractors should note this change as it will limit access to our facilities.

Self-Isolation Resources and Requirements

If you, or a family member, are required to self-isolate there are a number of resources available to you.

The Canadian Red Cross is available to assist anyone who does not have a place to self-isolate, or those who are in self-isolation and need help accessing essentials such as food and medication. Contact the Canadian Red Cross Self-isolation Helpline at 1-800-863-6582.

There are many scenarios surrounding self-isolation, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador website outlines what you need to do in your particular circumstance – whether it is you or a family member self-isolating, if you are awaiting test results and what to do when your receive them.

You can find all that, and more, information at https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/self-isolation/

Download the COVID app

If you have not already downloaded the COVID Alert app, we encourage you to do so. It is an easy, and effective way to help reduce the spread of the virus. It is available for free through the Apple or Google Play app stores.

Pandemic Supply Inventory

As a reminder, the Pandemic Inventory Guide Sheet is available to assist employees in understanding and ordering pandemic items for your departments and areas. This inventory is housed at various warehouse locations and will require placing an order in JDE1 using either the Sales Order or Work Order method to securing Pandemic related inventory items. This information can be found on the GRID in the Supply Chain – Shared Services Section.

COVID-19 Related Questions

We encourage anyone who has a specific COVID-19 related question to complete the self-assessment tool on the 811 HealthLine website: https://www.811healthline.ca/covid-19-self-assessment/  or visit the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s COVID-19 website: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/

Staying Safe At Work

We have been fortunate since re-opening our buildings last year that our case numbers have remained low and because of that many of us have had moments of complacency. When you’re back to work with colleagues on a regular basis, it’s easy enough to consider yourself in a “work bubble.” Unfortunately, what this latest series of cases has reminded us is that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away no matter how normal our world began to feel. Right now we have to keep our contacts as low as absolutely possible, and that means we need to follow Public Health guidelines.

For those of you who provide critical work and will continue to be at our worksites, it is important to follow the guidelines put out by Public Health.

  • Wear a mask except when you are in your office or cubicle.
  • Follow the directional signage in hallways.
  • Avoid in-person meetings. If you do need to meet ensure you are in a space that allows for proper physical distancing.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Remember to sanitize any surface you touch in common areas like kitchens and meeting rooms and disinfect your work station at the end of every shift.
  • If you do see a co-worker in the hallway and want to chat, please move to an area where people can pass you while maintaining physical distance.
  • Wear the proper PPE where appropriate.