Action Committee on Court Operations in Response to COVID-19

Action Committee on Court Operations in Response to COVID-19

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Guidance on Protecting Court Personnel and Court Users and General Practices for Cleaning and Disinfecting

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A Statement from the Action Committee

Our Committee exists to support Canada's courts as they work to protect the health and safety of all court users in the COVID-19 context while upholding the fundamental values of our justice system. These mutually sustaining commitments guide all of our efforts.

The Action Committee on Court Operations in Response to COVID-19 has released this document to provide guidance on protecting court personnel and court users and general practices for cleaning and disinfecting.

In the exercise of due diligence and responsible stewardship, control measures are likely to evolve with knowledge related to the risks posed by COVID-19 and the usefulness of such measures to mitigate those risks.

Guidance on Protecting Court Personnel and Court Users

  • Follow guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the local public health authority.
  • Adopt a multi-layered approach that integrates different levels of control measures to create the safest court environment possible. Monitor the implementation of measures and continually assess risks and effectiveness to make adjustments as needed. Consider the following types of controls: elimination and substitution (e.g. remote or technological alternatives), physical distancing, engineering controls (e.g. ventilation and physical barriers), administrative controls (e.g. procedures, policies and work practices), and masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), as appropriate. For further guidance on this topic, see the Action Committee’s Orienting Principles on Safe and Accessible Courts and Message: Keeping our Court Environments Safe in the Midst of a Pandemic.
  • Develop written procedures outlining all of the preventative measures that are being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and make sure court personnel and court users know what they are.
  • Require that court users and personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19, or are otherwise obligated to isolate or quarantine, not enter or be obliged to leave the court setting for the period prescribed by local public health authorities.
  • Ensure that all court personnel and court users wash or sanitize their hands when entering the court facility. Recommend that everyone frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, especially between activities that involve physical contact with common or high-touch surfaces.
  • Provide hand sanitizer at all entrances and exits, on desks and tables and at occupied workstations. Ensure that hand hygiene stations are easy to access by everyone, including persons with physical disabilities.
  • Promote proper respiratory etiquette, such as covering the mouth and nose with flexed elbow or sleeve when coughing and sneezing. If tissues are used, dispose immediately and wash or sanitize hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment frequently, using an approved hard surface disinfectant, following the manufacturer’s instructions, or with a diluted bleach solution.
  • Develop a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting all high touch surfaces, equipment, and shared spaces.

General Practices for Cleaning and Disinfecting

Cleaning

A high touch surface is any surface that can be touched by bare hands by multiple people, multiple times.

  • Make sure that any person required to perform cleaning of any type has received the appropriate training, a suitable mask and any required personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Train workers on how to work with and care for masks and PPE, and on understanding their limitations.
  • Use a dedicated cloth for cleaning.
  • Create a checklist of all areas, objects and surfaces that must be cleaned.
  • Determine the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting based on the courthouse’s needs. Clean throughout the workday with more frequent cleaning when court is in session. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects shared between users (e.g. witness stands).
  • Clean all areas, including offices, cafeterias, change rooms and washrooms.
  • Clean all areas in use, including offices, cafeterias, change rooms and washrooms.
  • Record when cleaning and disinfecting has occurred.
  • Ensure that court personnel receive training on, and follow, safe work procedures, and that they report any health and safety concerns immediately to their supervisor or health and safety representative.

Disinfecting

  • Clean visibly dirty or soiled surfaces with soap and water before disinfecting.
  • Use a disinfectant or bleach solution to destroy or inactivate the virus.
    • Use a disinfectant with a drug identification number (DIN). This number means that it has been approved for use in Canada.
    • If household or commercial disinfectant cleaning products are not available, hard surfaces can be disinfected using a mixture of 5 mL of bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) and 250 mL of water. Test surfaces before using a bleach solution. Bleach can be corrosive.
    • If liquids can be withstood, disinfect high-touch electronic devices (keyboards, tablets, smartboards) with alcohol or disinfectant wipes.
  • Follow the product manufacturer’s instructions, including any need for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves.
  • Apply the disinfectant to a clean cloth. Saturate the cloth before treating touch points. Reapply as needed.
  • Apply enough disinfectant to leave a visible film on the surface.
  • Allow the surface to air dry. Reapply disinfectant to the cloth between surfaces.
  • Change the cloth daily or when it becomes visibly soiled.
  • In the event of a known or suspected case of COVID-19 in the court facility:
    • Close off all areas the person used or attended. Consider common areas (e.g., washrooms), and any shared items (e.g. touch screens).
    • Increase air circulation in those areas by using the ventilation system or by opening doors and windows.
    • Wait 24 hours if possible before cleaning the areas.
    • Use routine procedures for cleaning and disinfecting, as described above.
    • Continue with routine cleaning and disinfecting according to established schedules and protocols.

Resources and References

Document last updated November 30, 2022