The risk of COVID-19 transmission increases when you are in closed spaces with poor ventilation, and crowded places with people outside of your immediate household. Risk is higher in settings where these factors overlap and/or involve activities such as close-range conversations, singing, shouting or heavy breathing (e.g., exercising).
Working in personal services typically involves close contact with customers/clients and co-workers, which can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Make sure staff and others know the preventative measures in place before they arrive on-site. Consider:
The ability of your customers and clients to follow the recommended personal preventative measures based on their health, age, disability, developmental status, or other socio-economic and demographic circumstances.
Frequent contact with high-touch surfaces or shared items such as tools and equipment, handheld payment devices, touchscreens, door handles, chairs, tables, faucets, barriers, etc.
Availability of supplies and facilities necessary for frequent hand hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection.
Risk of severe illness of your employees, customers or clients if they belong to a higher risk group.
Control Measures to Help Reduce the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission
Each workplace is unique. It is important for employers to work with their health and safety committee or representative (if available) to assess the risks of COVID-19 for their specific workplace. Implement the hazard controls using the hierarchy of controls (i.e., elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative policies, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)). Use a layered approach by including multiple personal preventative measures to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Provide mental health resources to employees, including access to your employee assistance program (EAP) program, if available.
Encourage employees to report any concerns about COVID-19 to their supervisor or employer. They can also report concerns to their health and safety committee or representative, if available.
Inform all employees and customers/clients in advance about any new measures that are in place. This information can be shared online, through advertisements, with notices at the front doors, and verbally by staff. Help customers/clients understand that protective measures are necessary, and that their experience might be different than what they are used to. Ask them to be considerate of your staff and others.
Ensure information is provided in a way that meets accessibility needs (age, reading level, language, etc.).
Consider an online or phone-based booking system to help manage the number of people on site and to reduce waiting.
Consider revising your appointment cancellation policy to encourage customers/clients to stay home if they have symptoms (e.g., no fee for cancelling appointments).
Where possible, send any necessary forms electronically, rather than handling paperwork. Use contactless payment methods, such as pre-pay, tap, or e-transfer.
Ask customers/clients to arrive at their appointment time and to leave promptly after their appointment/service. Ask them not to bring any guests or non-essential visitors.
Record the names and contact information of all persons entering the facility to assist with contact tracing if needed. Make sure that privacy is protected, and the list is only used for contact tracing purposes.
Screen your employees and customers/clients before they enter your workplace, following the recommendations provided by your local public health authority. Customers/clients could be asked about illness and exposure risks when they are booking their appointments and again at reception when arriving at the premises.
“Active screening” may be legally mandated in some jurisdictions and involves asking questions about a person’s health and possible exposures. Use a checklist or questionnaire provided by your local public health authority.
Some organizations are using point of care rapid antigen detection tests (RADTs) as part of their active screening. Refer to CCOHS Rapid Testing for COVID-19 document for further details. In all cases, consider keeping a record of the names and contact information for your employees who enter your workplace for contact tracing purposes. Maintain confidentiality and ensure the information is gathered, used, stored, and destroyed in accordance with your privacy laws.
Anyone who does not pass screening should not enter the facility, should wear a mask (preferably a respirator or medical mask, if not available a well-constructed and well fitting non-medical mask), return home (while avoiding public transit as much as possible), contact their health care provider or local public health authority and follow their advice.
Follow your jurisdictional occupancy limits to determine the number of people allowed in your facility.
Keep non-essential in-person interactions as few and brief as possible.
Limit how many people are allowed in work and common areas (e.g., break room). Stagger shifts, break times, and appointments where possible.
Rearrange workstations, common areas, reception areas, break rooms and chairs to promote physical distancing. Consider using multiple break areas for staff, including outdoors, if available.
Consider how people will use or travel through shared spaces, such as hallways and washrooms. Establish one-way routes where appropriate, using floor markings, signage, and other visual cues.
Have administrative staff work from home whenever possible.
Consider installing physical barriers (e.g., at reception, between workstations) to separate people and help prevent droplet spread.
Physical barriers may include counter-mounted or freestanding plexiglass, curtains, or dividers. Walls are also a barrier and can be added made of wood, steel, or glass. Avoid materials such as plants, porous fabrics, paper, etc. as they will not adequately prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Physical barriers should always be used in conjunction with other COVID-19 control measures (e.g., reduced occupancy, adequate ventilation, use of masks, etc.).
Make sure that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems operate properly.
Increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors or other methods. However, do not open windows and doors if it poses a safety risk.
Make sure exhaust fans in restrooms are fully functional, operating at maximum capacity, and remain on.
Avoid blowing or circulating air from one person to another using powerful portable cooling fans as it might increase the spread of COVID-19. Adjust building ventilation systems and air conditioning units instead.
Adjust ventilation systems to:
Increase filtration efficiency to the highest level appropriate for the system.
Increase fresh air flow/percentage of outdoor air (increase percentage of outdoor air in HVAC air supply, open windows, and doors, etc.).
Avoid recirculation of stale indoor air.
Limit use of demand-controlled ventilation; keep system running at the optimal setting.
Explore the use of portable high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units.
Consult an HVAC professional before making changes to the ventilation system(s).
Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, and mouth), especially when working with customers/clients.
Hand wash or hand sanitizer stations should be well stocked and easy to find, near the entrance and other appropriate areas.
Regularly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available:
at the beginning and at the end of your shift
before and after work breaks
after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
before putting on, touching or after removing masks and personal protective equipment (PPE)
before eating or drinking
after using the washroom
before after contact with others and between customers/clients
after touching shared surfaces and items
after handling used towels, garments, etc.
after handling garbage.
Employees should change out of work clothes before going home. Clothes, uniforms, aprons, etc. should be laundered as soon as possible after every shift.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Viruses can remain on objects for a few hours to days depending on the type of surface and environmental conditions.
Develop a cleaning schedule and follow your standard operating procedures for cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces (door handles, light switches, chairs, etc.) and equipment (e.g., scissors, combs, hair clippers, etc.)
Clean and disinfect common areas and equipment between clients. If using barriers, clean and disinfect both sides of the barrier frequently throughout the day.
Make sure washrooms are cleaned and disinfected frequently and stocked with soap and paper towels.
Train staff on cleaning and disinfecting procedures including applicable workplace hazardous materials information legislation (WHMIS), and provide adequate supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Allow adequate time between clients to properly clean and disinfect:
Read and follow manufacturer’s instructions for safe use of cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., wear gloves, use in well-ventilated area, allow enough contact time for disinfectant to kill germs based on the product being used).
If approved 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. Follow instructions for safe handling of bleach.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning high touch electronics (e.g., touch screens, pin pads, keyboards, tablets). If liquids can be withstood, disinfect with alcohol or disinfectant wipes containing 70% alcohol.
Used cleaning cloths, towels, garments, and linens must be properly handled to prevent contamination, changed between clients, and laundered after every use.
Consider using gloves when handling laundry. Do not shake the laundry when sorting. Use detergent and make sure the laundry is completely dry before using. Clean and disinfect hampers and bins used for storing laundry.
Replace garbage bins with no-touch receptacles or remove lids that require contact to open. Line garbage cans for safe and convenient disposal of contaminated items, such as used PPE, tissues, and cleaning materials.
Dispose of garbage at least daily and follow up with hand hygiene.
Staff should use PPE (e.g., disposal gloves, safety goggles) when other preventative controls are not possible or do not offer enough protection (e.g., when cleaning and disinfecting).
When selecting the correct PPE to use, it is important to perform an assessment of all the activities that will be done and what products that will be used. This makes sure that appropriate protection is provided, and additional hazards are not created.
Develop procedures and train staff on the selection, use, wearing, removal, disposal, cleaning, maintenance, and storage of PPE. Improper use of PPE can increase the risk of infection.
PPE should not be shared unless recommended by manufacturer. Clean and disinfect PPE that is shared between users.
Clean hands before putting on PPE and after removing PPE.
Use of Masks
Follow the recommends for the use of masks as issued by your
public health authority. Children under the age of 2 should not wear a mask. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 may be able to wear a mask if supervised. Children older than the age of 5 should follow the same advice for adults on when to wear a mask.
Masks should be well constructed and well fitting, fully covering the nose, mouth, and chin without gaps. Encourage people not to touch their face or mask with unwashed hands.
Masks should not be worn by anyone who is unable to remove the mask without assistance (e.g., due to their age, ability, or developmental status).
Be aware that non-medical masks have limitations, and improper mask use and disposal can increase the risk of infection.
Change your mask if it becomes wet or soiled. For example, you may wish to bring a second mask, and store in a clean paper bag, envelope, or container that does not trap moisture. Store reusable soiled masks in a separate bag or container. Do not touch the outside of the mask while removing it and wash your hands when you are finished.
Do not allow the mask to be a hazard to other activities, such as getting caught on moving machinery or flammability from open sparks or flames (e.g., spa candles).
For some people, not being able to see another person’s face and mouth clearly may cause difficulties (e.g., young children, people who are deaf or hard of hearing). Consider using a transparent mask in those situations.
Employees may also opt for eye protection (such as face shields) when in close physical contact with others. Stay informed as guidance is evolving regarding the use of face shields. They are not a suitable replacement for face masks but can provide eye protection.
Information on the risks of COVID-19 transmission may change as the pandemic continues to evolve. Keep informed by continuing to follow trusted sources including the Public Health Agency of Canada and your local public health authority.
Employers must continue to conduct risk assessments on how COVID-19 can be transmitted in their workplaces and use the hierarchy of controls to provide a layered approach to reducing the risk. Continue with physical distancing, engineering controls, ventilation, cleaning, and disinfecting, using personal protective equipment (PPE) and wearing masks as part of your health and safety plan. Ensure no new health and safety risks are created (e.g., propping open fire doors).
Discuss the benefits of COVID -19 vaccination with your staff.
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.