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Summary of COVID-19 guidelines for NB manufacturers

Author: Jane Landry

Posted on May 15, 2020

Category: Research Reports , Manufacturing , JDI Roundtable

Drawing from case studies, recommendations, and current WorkSafeNB guidance, Dr. Sarah McRae from the JDI Roundtable on Manufacturing Competitiveness in New Brunswick presented her report titled, “COVID-19 Protocol and Considerations for New Brunswick Manufacturers” on May 14 via webinar.

Dr. Johannes Doemer of WorkSafeNB was also in attendance to answer questions.

The report highlights mandatory requirements, suggested protocols and occupational hygiene best practices for New Brunswick’s manufacturing sector based on current WorkSafeNB guidance, and examples from global manufacturing operations.

At a minimum, employers are required to take all reasonable steps to implement WorkSafeNB requirements, including remaining current on all changes to recommendations and guidance documents.

Current WorkSafeNB Guidelines

As of May 14, WorkSafeNB outlines a three-tier hierarchy for compliance with mandatory requirements outlined in New Brunswick’s State of Emergency legislation and occupational health and safety legislation.

The first tier posits that all employers must ensure physical distancing where possible and increased hygiene practices.

For employers that cannot ensure a minimum of 2 meters distance between employees, employers must install physical barriers in lieu of physical distancing.

Active screening of all employees, enhanced sanitation practices, and appropriate PPE are required if employers are unable to ensure physical distancing practices and cannot install barriers. In these cases, employers must take every reasonable step to ensure interactions are minimized.

Dr. Doemer also noted that WorkSafeNB now requires businesses to have a operational plan outlining all COVID-19 safety measures they have in place.

Key themes

Dr. McRae recommends four essential activities to practice, which have emerged out of existing research and best practices. These activities include adjusting operations, employing active screening, preparing for a fast and thorough response to a (potential) outbreak, and practicing clear and ongoing communication of expectations.

Adjusting operations is the first action employers must take. This step could take the form of staggering shifts, rearranging floors, placing markers on floors, and making one-way hallways, to name a few. It is important to note that effectively and successfully performing this step could eliminate the need to follow other steps.

Employing active screening and other safety measures is crucial when physical distancing is not possible. As mentioned in the current WorkSafeNB hierarchy, when physical distancing is not possible, physical barriers must be in place – and when physical barriers cannot be installed, active screening is mandatory. Therefore, in these situations, employers must enforce face coverings. Furthermore, to prepare for the event that contact tracing may need to be done, employers will need to start record-keeping to have on file those with whom an employee has come in contact.

Preparing for a fast and thorough response to outbreaks is important for employers. Examples of this include preparation to assist with contact tracing (via record-keeping), protocol for self-monitoring and isolation for symptomatic workers, setting consistent shifts, and arranging smaller work groups/teams.

Ensuring clear and ongoing communications can take the form of understanding the virus, formulating clear policies for employees, providing proper training for sanitation and PPE, displaying visible signage, and providing constant reminders (such as symptoms and expectations).

Keep in Mind

Going forward, keep as up-to-date with current information as possible. We have seen how quickly the situation can change, and as employers, the responsibility of workplace health and safety starts with you.

New Brunswick is fortunate to have the strong, and resilient manufacturing sector that we do. Do not forget to remain vigilant, and as Dr. McRae mentioned, “New Brunswick manufacturers have an opportunity to emerge as manufacturing leaders.”

Watch the webinar: 




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