COVID-19 Protocols for Watershed Groups working under the PEI Watershed Management Program Version 3 – updated June 18, 2020
The PEI Office of Public Health has approved a gradual relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions, the details of which may be found here: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/renew-pei-together This document is intended to provide more specific guidance and direction to watershed groups funded under PEI’s Watershed Management Program.
1.0 Screening and Monitoring
The employer or supervisor must confirm with all employees daily that none has a common cold or influenza like illness or symptoms compatible with COVID-19 (new/worsened cough, feverish/chills, difficulty breathing, runny nose, sore throat, or headache).
Any employees reporting or showing such symptoms must return home, immediately begin self- isolation and call 811 for direction. If directed for testing, they will be required to self-isolate until test results are communicated by Public Health. Employees required to self-isolate will remain on payroll during the self-isolation period, or until the end of their normal work term if that occurs during the self- isolation period.
Employers, supervisors and employees should be aware that those who have come in contact with someone with COVID-19 will be contacted by Public Health Nursing and must also self-isolate for 14 days. During self-isolation, you must self-monitor and contact 811 if symptoms develop during the 14 days.
2.0 Hand Hygiene
Hand hygiene is one of two key areas that can help break the chain of COVID-19 transmission (the other being physical distancing). Good hand hygiene includes increased handwashing, coughing or sneezing into your arm or a tissue, disposing of tissues immediately and properly, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and washing your hands regularly.
To support this, the employer must provide employees with information about good hand hygiene practices, and the means to implement those practices. This includes:
- explaining the importance of good hand hygiene to all employees at the start of their work term, and re-enforcing this throughout the work period;
- posting signs or notices in appropriate places that illustrate good practices;
- displaying good practices while with employees, including diligent hand washing with soap and water or use of hand sanitizer with a minimum 60% alcohol;
- having a location on site where employees may wash their hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20-30 seconds. Wash locations must be checked for supplies and cleaned daily, and restocked with supplies immediately upon depletion; and
- providing an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol for use where washing with soap and water is not possible or practical. In cases where hands are visibly soiled, wipes should be used to remove dirt before applying sanitizer.
Watershed groups may find the following signs / notices useful:
Hand washing or use of hand sanitizer is most important at the following times:
- before eating or preparing food;
- after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose;
- before and after contact with a person suspected of being ill;
- after touching common surfaces such as taps, light switches or doorknobs;
- before and after sharing tools; and
- after using the washroom.
All common areas and surfaces must be cleaned at the end of each day or more often as needed. Examples of common areas and surfaces include washrooms, shared offices, common tables, desks, light switches, and door handles. Regular household cleaners are effective against COVID-19, following the instructions on the label.
3.0 Physical Distancing
Physical distancing is one of two key areas (along with good hand hygiene) that can break the chain of COVID-19 transmission. Physical distancing of at least 2 meters must be maintained, where possible, at all times, not just when it is easy or practical to do. This will mean altering usual work practices for some tasks. Please note the following phased-in restrictions imposed by PEI Public Health, in addition to physical distancing:
Phase 1 (May 1 – 21): Outdoor gatherings are restricted to no more than five individuals from different households. Indoor gatherings of people from different households are not allowed.
Phase 2 (May 22 – May 31): Outdoor gatherings are restricted to no more than ten individuals from different households. Indoor gatherings of no more than five individuals from different households are allowed.
Phase 3 (June 1 – TBD): Gatherings of no more than 20 people outdoor and no more than 15 people indoor. 3.1 Common Spaces
Employers must ensure physical distancing can be maintained in common spaces such as offices, buildings, breakrooms, etc. This could include measures such as replacing in-person meetings with virtual meetings; holding necessary in-person meetings outside; staggering start, stop and break times to minimize employees congregating; restricting office spaces to essential employees only; limiting the number of employees allowed access to offices or breakrooms at any one time, etc.
As noted in Section 2.0, all common areas and surfaces must be cleaned at the end of each day or more often as needed. Examples of common areas and surfaces include washrooms, shared offices, common tables, desks, light switches, and door handles. Regular household cleaners are effective against COVID-19, following the instructions on the label.
3.2 Vehicles Employees may share a vehicle and every effort should be made to ensure distance between passengers, including limiting the number of persons in a vehicle when possible.
Without the use of non-medical masks in vehicles, the following protocols are to be followed: Vehicles with only one row of seating (for example, a pick-up truck with no king cab) may transport only one person, unless all people in the vehicle are from the same household. Vehicles with rear seating may transport a maximum of two people. In these cases, the second employee must be in the rear passenger side seat (ie as far from the driver as possible). Vehicles with more than two rows of seating may have one person per row, with each row staggered so no person is directly behind another.
If non-medical masks ARE worn by all employees while traveling, it is possible to transport increased numbers of employees in a vehicle -as long as physical contact can still be avoided.
Information on non-medical masks and how to use them can be found here:
In all cases where there is more than one employee in a vehicle, employees should hand sanitize before entering and after exiting the vehicle.
As noted in Section 2.0, all common areas and surfaces must be cleaned at the end of each day, or more often as needed. For vehicles transporting more than one employee, this includes key contact points such as door handles (inside and out), window buttons, armrests, grab handles, seat adjusters, and seat belt buckles.
3.3 Field Safety is the number one priority of all work, including field work. While working alone accomplishes physical distancing requirements, employees must not be assigned to complete higher-risk activities (for example, chainsaw use) alone. Employers must establish a check-in protocol for employees assigned lower-risk activities alone.
Employees undertaking field work in groups of two or more must maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres unless it is unsafe to do so. This could include measures such as deploying smaller work groups, limiting employees to a maximum of two per boat, staggering the pick-up of trees, equipment or other supplies from a central location, etc.
Where possible, employees should be assigned tools and equipment, rather than sharing items among the work group (this would include everything from monitoring equipment to shovels and brush axes, to pens, insect repellant and sunscreen). Where it is not possible to provide personal tools or equipment, the shared tools or equipment must be transferred in a way that avoids contact between employees (not handed directly from one employee to another) and must be wiped down and cleaned with a disinfecting agent between users. Disinfecting agents include disposable wipes, a diluted bleach solution (1/3 cup bleach per gallon (3 3⁄4 litres) of water) or regular household cleaners which are effective against COVID-19, following the instructions on the label.
For work where physical distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained safely, this work should be postponed until later in the season (when distancing requirements may be relaxed) or until next year. Some field work may not be possible this year.
3.4 Shopping for Supplies / Equipment Only one employee should be assigned this task at a time. Groups of two or more employees should not be sent for supplies unless there is a safety need to do so, such as if the item cannot be safely loaded and unloaded by one person. Even in this case, the employer should determine if assistance is available at the point of purchase to avoid the need to send more than one employee. 4