This tip sheet is for employers of casinos and similar businesses (e.g., racetracks or bingo halls) as an overview of potential hazards in the workplace due to COVID-19 and related control measures. Some of the information will also be useful for workers and visitors.
Meet your legal occupational health and safety obligations by doing everything reasonably possible under the circumstances to protect the health and safety of your workers by providing information, training, supplies, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
As gaming and gambling establishments vary in size from small owner-operators to large businesses with many workers and multiple shifts, a variety of tips have been provided. Apply the ones that best fit your workplace.
Consider the Risks
The risk of contracting COVID-19 increases in situations where people are working in closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, and around people from other households. Risk is higher in settings where these factors also include activities such as close-range conversations, shouting, or heavy breathing (e.g., due to exertion).
Working in a gaming and gambling establishment exposes workers to many of the above situations. COVID-19 transmission during these activities depends on the setting, the number of people, physical proximity, duration and type of interactions, and the effectiveness of health and safety measures put in place.
Employers should consider the following:
How to protect workers and visitors. Have you sufficiently identified risks and implemented the appropriate solutions? Are you following public health guidance?
How are indoor spaces ventilated? Poor ventilation could increase the transmission of airborne viruses. Adjust ventilation systems to minimize risk.
How many close interactions will workers have with each other? Transmission risks increase with close and frequent contact.
How long are the interactions? Evidence indicates that person-to-person spread is more likely with longer contact.
What kind of interactions will workers have (e.g., sitting at a table with visitors for hours)? Observe and analyze your activities processes and job tasks. Understand how COVID-19 transmission occurs and implement mitigation measures.
Do workers interact with frequently touched surfaces or objects? Can the job task be adjusted to minimize or eliminate the touchpoints?
Is mask wearing required for your workplace in your jurisdiction? Does your jurisdiction have public health measures in effect for your area?
Are you anticipating or observing crowds in your facility (e.g., at punch clocks or change rooms or around game tables)? Make operational changes to avoid crowds as much as possible.
Could language barriers impact the ability of workers to understand and follow the instructions or control measures? Evaluate your workforce and adjust your communications to make sure your workers understand.
Each establishment is unique. It is important for employers to assess the risks of COVID-19 transmission for their specific layout, procedures, and job tasks and implement appropriate hazard controls using the hierarchy of controls (i.e., elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, personal protective equipment). Use a layered approach when implementing the chosen combination of hazard controls, including personal preventive practices. Do not create new workplace hazards or negatively impact existing safety controls.
In consultation with health and safety committee or representative, if present, implement a COVID-19 safety plan to identify hazards and provide solutions specific to your workplace. Communicate the plan to workers and post copies to safety boards. The plan should address as many aspects as possible. Review, communicate, and update the plan on a regular basis.
Implement these controls to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. Focus on physical or equipment changes or upgrades to protect workers and the public.
Install additional hand washing stations or hand sanitizer dispensers (minimum 60% alcohol content) in high traffic areas such as worker and main entrances, exits, breakrooms, change rooms, meeting rooms, elevators, front desk, and shipping and receiving areas.
Ventilate indoor spaces appropriately. Consult an HVAC specialist on ways to increase indoor/outdoor air exchanges per hour and reduce or eliminate air recirculation. Consider installing air filtration and disinfection units (e.g., room or system UV germicidal lighting) to further reduce air contaminants. Refer to the CCOHS tip sheet Indoor Ventilation: Guidance During The COVID-19 Pandemic for details.
Make sure exhaust fans (exhausting to the outside) in washrooms or for local exhaust are fully functional, operating at maximum capacity, and remain on.
Ensure that air circulation vents or cooling fans are not directing air flow from person to person.
Set area fans (e.g., portable, pedestal, wall mounted) to lowest speed setting, when their use is necessary.
Modify change rooms and meeting rooms (i.e., removing furniture or adjusting locker placement) to promote the greatest possible distance between workers.
Install physical barriers to separate workers from each other and from visitors where possible and appropriate, make sure not to block aisles or exits (i.e., emergency escape). Barriers should be appropriately sized and positioned to block respiratory droplets from being carried from person to person. Clean and disinfect barriers as needed, multiple times a shift at busy workstations (at least daily).
Replace soft surfaces with hard surfaces which are more easily disinfected (i.e., change carpet to tile, cushioned benches to wooden or plastic benches).
Reduce the number of touchpoints:
Replace door hardware with handles and push-plates that can be operated using wrists or elbows.
Install automatic doors openers or prop non-fire doors open. Be careful not to create new hazards (tripping or fire).
Install automatic (e.g., motion-activated, or timed) touch-free light switches, water taps, sanitizer dispensers, toilet and urinal flushers, paper towel dispensers.
Remove waste bins with lids that must be manually opened, replace them with bins with motion or foot activated lids openers.
Use touch-free methods for workers to clock in, such as electronic key cards, messaging/e-mail, or rollcall by a supervisor.
These types of controls reduce risk through policies, procedures, and training. They rely on personnel management and compliance to be effective. The priority should be to have as few people as possible in the workplace while maintaining safety protocols. It is possible for COVID-19 to be spread by people who do not have any symptoms. When setting up controls, consider that anyone may already be infected. Make sure to continue to review and update administrative controls as the pandemic evolves.
Research shows that COVID-19 transmits between people primarily through airborne routes. All close person to person interactions could result in transmission. Determine if in-person interactions are essential, and always opt for remote work where possible.
Create and enforce an indoor and outdoor physical distance policy. Communicate these requirements to all workers and visitors.
Remind workers to minimize non-essential in-person interactions with people from other households (to decrease potential COVID-19 exposures). Interactions should be kept as few, brief, and at the greatest distance possible (at least 2 metres).
Limit the number of people allowed in washrooms and change rooms at a time. Configure the space to have alternating sinks, stalls, showers, and urinals out of service if they are within 2 metres of each other.
Designate one-way and single file routes through the facility, wherever possible.
Modify workstations to ensure the greatest possible distance between workers (at least 2 metres). Focus on workstations that position people close to each other or facing each other. If it is impossible to space people, install barriers between people designed to reduce the transmission of respiratory droplets.
Evaluate job tasks and minimize close physical contact for as many as possible. Modify tasks so they can be performed by one person (if safe to do so). For all tasks that require two or more people in close proximity, make sure all workers and visitors are properly wearing a mask and keep the interaction as short as possible.
Plan for how workers will maintain physical distance during emergency evacuations. Conduct drills to make sure workers are following the new procedure.
Prepare for exceptions to distancing guidance such as for anyone rescuing a distressed person, providing first aid, or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Proper mask wearing reduces the number of viruses released into the surrounding environment by infected individuals. Having physical distancing and mask wearing policies in place and enforced is an effective way to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Implement a mask wearing policy. Communicate these requirements to visitors and workers. Make sure the policy complies with local public health authority recommendations.
The policy should include when, where, and which type of mask is required to be worn.
Require workers to properly wear well-constructed and well-fitting masks, while at work. Masks should cover the nose, mouth, and chin without gaps.
The appropriate mask for your workplace setting should be chosen according to local public health guidance and organizational requirements and could be medical or non-medical.
If respirators (e.g., disposable or reusable N95 mask) are already being used for certain tasks, continue their use because they provide better protection than non-medical masks.
Masks should not be worn by anyone who is unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Inform workers of the limitations of masks. Include the fact that improper mask use and disposal can increase the risk of infection.
Consider using transparent masks, if appropriate, or use written directions to communicate with co-workers or members of the public who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Train staff and post signs reminding all people to:
Change their mask if it becomes wet or soiled (have extra masks on hand for this purpose)
Store soiled reusable masks in a breathable container (launder masks before re-use)
Avoid touching the outside of the mask while wearing and removing it (handle by straps only)
Wash (or sanitize) their hands with soap and water before and after putting it on or taking it off
Be aware of environmental conditions that can impact the health or mask wearers (e.g., masks rendered ineffective after getting soiled or faster onset of heat stress in hot and humid spaces).
Adjust daily worker levels to have the fewest people in the workplace (where safe to do so). Make sure essential roles such as supervisors, and first aid or emergency response team members are on each shift. Cross-train workers so they are safely able to replace the duties of others.
Stagger shift starts and break times to minimize crowding at worker entrances, change and break rooms, and outdoor break areas.
Designate groups of workers (cohorts) working together on the same shifts. Keep groups separate as much as possible.
Minimize contact for workers reporting to work by simplifying the process as much as possible (e.g., being flexible with clock in/out times, adding additional clock-in stations, key card sign-in, messaging/e-mail, or rollcall by a supervisor).
Continue with safety and informational meetings but avoid gatherings of people where possible. Implement technology to conduct meetings virtually. If that option is not possible, gather in small physically distanced groups, preferably outdoors or in large well-ventilated locations.
Modify shared storage areas (e.g., winter footwear, sweaters, coats, PPE). For example, have workers store their personal items in separate lockers or in labelled, sealed bins/bags.
Provide laundry service for work uniforms or require workers wear freshly cleaned uniforms or clothes for each shift. Clothes should be bagged and washed after each shift.
Implement flexible leave policies to accommodate workers who are at higher risk of more severe disease or outcomes (i.e., over 60 years old, immunocompromised, have chronic medical conditions).
Adopt flexible sick leave policies and consider providing support to workers who are off sick, encouraging them to stay home when they feel ill, even if symptoms are mild (i.e., do not penalise workers that do not come to work when they feel sick).
Organizational Changes to Reduce Risk
Implement a work from home policy. Require all workers who are not essential for day to day operations to work from home as often as possible.
Continue to comply with all federal, provincial, or territorial labour laws and requirements.
Some jurisdictions may mandate the closure of your facility when community transmission rates are high, follow all closure orders imposed.
Adjust and maintain worker and visitor occupancy levels as required by your local public health authority.
Reduce noise levels as much as possible (e.g. turn off background music or lower the volume coming from gambling machines) so people can speak as quietly as possible.
Reduce the number of shared objects between workers (e.g., assign cleaning tools or radios to workers for their whole shift).
Minimize unnecessary visitors (e.g., contractors, engineers, consultants) to the facility. Conduct meetings virtually and reschedule non-critical maintenance, service calls, and consultations, if possible.
Allow areas to ventilate for a sufficient time and disinfect any touched surfaces after external contractors complete their work.
Schedule deliveries to arrive during off-peak times when the minimum number of workers are on site.
Attempt to operate as a cashless venue (i.e., all services prepaid, online payments, accept credit/tap payment options only), removing cash as a touchpoint between visitors and workers.
Consider running announcements over the PA system about safe behaviours and best practices.
Stop offering services that involve close contact between people or personal items such as coat check or locker rentals.
Cancel all entertainment that promote crowds (e.g., concerts magic acts, acrobatic shows). Refer to public health authorities to determine those events can reopen safely.
Consider shutting down the facility if an outbreak is declared. Intensively clean and disinfect public areas, worker change and break rooms, and administration areas during the shutdown. An appropriate length shutdown will break the chain of transmission between workers and will lower the impact of a prolonged outbreak, consult with local public health authorities for advice.
Provide COVID-19 specific training to your workers, at minimum include the following:
Monitor compliance and repeat the training as often as needed.
Instruct workers to stay home if they feel sick, even if symptoms are mild.
Teach workers to avoid unnecessary physical contact such as hugs, handshakes, and high fives, as well as after-work gatherings.
Discourage the sharing of personal items such as cellphones, lighters, etc.
Train conflict resolution techniques to supervisors that may have to deal with workers and visitors who react aggressively to COVID-19 health measures and organizational changes.
Instruct workers to avoid sharing portable equipment, tools, and paperwork. When touching shared items is unavoidable, require hand washing or sanitizing before and after (e.g., batch records, clipboards, tools, pens, carts).
Train workers on the proper techniques for cleaning and disinfecting equipment such as controls, screens, keyboards, tools, radios, personal devices (e.g., cellphones). Give them supplies and time to disinfect their workstation as necessary.
Make sure workers understand how to protect themselves from the chemicals they use (including cleaners and disinfectants) i.e., wear appropriate PPE, ventilate area during cleaning, etc. Make sure that all workers are trained, understand and use the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).
Pre-entry Screening and Contact Tracing
Administer health screening questions to all workers and visitors at entrances. Include current symptoms (if any), recent travel and potential COVID-19 exposures (templates are available from your local public health authority, or the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety).Consider having workers complete the screening using a company portal or app before coming into work.
Workers that pass the screening can work. Workers who do not pass the screening should contact their supervisor. The supervisor should instruct them to stay (or return) home and monitor themselves for symptoms. Suggest that they contact their health care provider or local public health authority if they develop symptoms or symptoms worsen.
Visitors that pass the screening should be allowed to enter. Those persons that do not pass screening should be denied entry. Inform visitors about the screening process before they arrive, allowing them to prepare or avoid coming if they would fail the screening.
Log all workers and visitors who enter the workplace. This record is critical for contact tracing. This information should only be provided to public health authorities. Make sure that privacy is protected, and that the information is stored and destroyed in a safe and secure manner, as required by privacy laws.
Managers should keep up to date and comply with public health orders from their local public health authorities or regulators. This compliance may require the closure of part or all your operation.
Communicate to workers and visitors all new practices and policies that are in effect in the workplace. Communicate these changes and post credible COVID-19 resources and information at entrances, washrooms, staff rooms, safety boards, and on websites.
Keep posted information, guidance, and government orders up to date.
Post signs throughout facility reminding workers about safe behaviours such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and to follow physical distancing and mask wearing policies.
Display posters detailing proper hand washing technique close to sinks, to remind and reinforce training.
Indicate room occupancy limits at the entrances of break rooms, washrooms, reception areas, offices, meeting rooms.
Communications should be written using easy to understand terms, in multiple languages according to worker preferences.
Display graphics and pictograms to clearly inform all building occupants about desired and undesired conduct.
Encourage workers to report any COVID-19 concerns to their employer, supervisor, health and safety committee or representative, or union if present.
When a person reports (or is observed as) having COVID-19 symptoms, while inside your facility, immediately have them wear a mask (preferably a respirator or medical mask, if not available a well-constructed and well fitting non-medical mask).
If the person is in immediate distress, call 911 for medical assistance.
Ask visitors to leave if it is safe for them to do so.
Have the person stop work immediately. Isolate the person from others in a designated area or room. (Note: After the person leaves, clean and disinfect all surfaces/objects that the symptomatic person may have touched or been close to).
Send the worker home to begin their self-isolation. Ask them to avoid public transit, taxi, and ridesharing, if possible.
Return to work should be determined by medical professionals or public health officials and will depend on the type, duration, and severity of symptoms and if taken, the result of a COVID-19 test.
If a worker or visitor informs you of a positive COVID-19 test result, report it to your local public health authority and cooperate with any contact tracing efforts. You may also be required to inform workers who might been exposed unless that is the responsibility of your public health authority. Advise all those that were potentially exposed to carefully monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms.
If the case is work-related involving a worker, additional notifications may be required, contact your jurisdictionalOHS regulator and workers’ compensation board for guidance. Complete an incident report and begin an investigation.
Encourage workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible and available in your region.
Consider supporting workers who are interested in receiving the vaccine by providing paid time during work hours to get the vaccine or arranging a for a vaccine clinic at the workplace.
Evaluate every table game offered in your casino. Implement safety protocols, procedures, and modifications for all activities or games that are determined to be high risk.
Do not continue operating games that:
are determined to be too risky to run safely even if additional safety procedures and modifications were put in place
are difficult to keep clean and disinfected between visitors
involve close contact between visitors and staff
your governing authority specifically bans in your jurisdiction
Promote low risk activities such as properly distanced slot machines (disinfected between users).
Have adequate supplies of game components such as dice or chips available to enable frequent cleaning or timed quarantine of items.
Measures to improve the safety of table games (e.g., roulette, blackjack)
Configure seating around game tables so that visitors are always as far apart as possible (minimum 2 meters).
Install clear plastic barriers between all participants. The barriers should be installed at the appropriate height to block respiratory droplets transfer from person to person and disinfected frequently.
Disinfect game rails, chairs, and barriers after each visitor and dealer leaves the table.
Clean and disinfect game equipment such as dice, buttons, tiles, and shufflers on a frequent schedule and when there is a dealer changeover.
Have participants and dealers use hand sanitizer before they start playing or dealing.
Remind visitors to avoid touching their nose, mouth, and face while gaming.
Modify games to eliminate the requirement for visitors to touch game component and chips (i.e., have the dealer handle all components to minimize touchpoints between people).
Game components that must be touched by visitors and dealers should only be used once then cleaned and disinfected before re-use. Consider having an ongoing disinfection process at each table or pit for game components. Use a process proven to be effective, or use items once then store for a recommended time (e.g., 72 hours) before re-use.
Supervisors should remind all visitors to properly wear masks while sitting at game tables. Visitors that do not follow this policy should be asked to leave if they refuse to comply.
For additional safety, consider banning eating or drinking at table games.
Managers and supervisors should ensure that no crowds of people form around any game tables or other areas.
Measures to improve safety of slot machines
Visitors should be able to maintain the greatest distance possible (minimum 2 metres) in all directions from others. Space out or disable slot machines to ensure people stay apart.
Frequently clean and disinfect all buttons or levers that are touched by visitors.
Disable the coin operation of slot machines. Have the slot machines only operate on virtual coins, removing a touchpoint between visitors and workers.
Measures to protect cash cage workers
Ensure that cage barriers block air flow between visitors and workers, if necessary, modify them to provide the required protection.
Workers should be trained to frequently hand wash or sanitize using proper technique when performing job tasks that include handling items from visitors.
Eliminate the use of chips and tokens, if possible. Using gloves to handle winnings (chips or tokens) should be discouraged because improper glove use can result in higher risk of viral transmission.
Worker stations should be spaced as far apart as possible (2 meter minimum distance) from each other. Close off and discontinue use of any stations that do not allow for adequate distance.
Consider using signs or coasters to indicate which slot machines or table game seats have been disinfected.
Racetrack Specific Guidance
Reduce the maximum occupancy of all areas of the racetrack including viewing areas, washrooms, stables as required by governing authority.
Restrict access to horse stables, practice areas and the track to essential personnel only.
Currently there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted between horses and humans. Precautions should be in place to limit transmission between people who work with horses (e.g., owners, jockeys, veterinarians, groomers).
Clean and disinfect frequent touchpoints at stalls, starting gates, feeding, and training areas.
Bingo Hall Specific Guidance
Install barriers wherever visitors and workers interact including service and sales counters. Barriers should be properly installed to protect workers and visitors.
Space out all visitors throughout the hall to keep the greatest distance possible (minimum 2 metres) distance for all visitors and workers.
Do not share items such as cards, dabbers, or markers. Encourage visitor to bring their own dabbers or markers.
Manufacturers should focus on equipment, work surfaces, equipment controls and handles, touch screens, shared tools, access panels, waste and recycling bins, office equipment (pens, tools, phones, radios, keyboard, mouse, etc.).
Make sure that all disinfectants used are effective against COVID-19. Refer to this Health Canada guidance for hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers. Verify that selected products have a drug identification number (DIN) from Health Canada.
High touch and transmission risk or touch objects and surfaces should be disinfected multiple times a day.
Ensure washrooms are cleaned frequently, have running water, and are stocked with soap, paper towels and plastic lined waste containers (preferably no-touch).
Clean and disinfect tables, chairs, eating surfaces in break rooms or cafeterias after each worker use.
Make sure that cafeteria dishwashing equipment is operating within specifications, chose sanitizing cycles or setpoints, and use appropriate detergents and sanitizers.
Avoid cross-contamination between clean and dirty dishware/glassware.
It is important that mental health resources and support are provided to all workers, including access to an employee assistance program, if available.
Note that this guidance is just some of the adjustments organizations can make during a pandemic. Adapt this list by adding your own good practices and policies to meet your organization’s specific needs.
Disclaimer: As public and occupational health and safety information is changing rapidly, local public health authorities should be consulted for specific, regional guidance. This information is not intended to replace medical advice or legislated health and safety obligations. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.