COVID-19 Safety Plan for STEMCELL Technologies

COVID-19 Safety Plan for STEMCELL Technologies

Step 1: Assess the risks at your workplace

The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads in several ways. It can spread in droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face.

The risk of person-to-person transmission increases the closer you come to other people, the more time you spend near them, and the more people you come near.

The risk of surface transmission increases when many people contact the same surface and when those contacts happen over short periods of time.

  • A COVID Steering Committee, along with other various COVID response/planning teams, have been put into place over the course of the pandemic to address the needs of the business. These teams include, but are not limited to, looking at employee safety, facility safety, review of changing public health requirements, etc.
  • Areas in the various STEMCELL facilities have been identified where people gather in office areas, lunchrooms, and labs.
  • Job tasks and processes where employees are close to one another have been identified and physical distance guidelines are in place for the workplace. This includes lunchrooms, common working areas, office areas, etc.
  • Common pieces of equipment (e.g. tools, lab equipment, etc.) shared by employees have been identified.
  • High touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, stair railings, elevator buttons, light switches, etc., have been identified.

Step 2: Implement protocols to reduce the risks

Different protocols offer different levels of protection. The Hierarchy of Control has been used to make decisions and put in place the STEMCELL COVID Safety Plan. Wherever possible, the highest level of protection (elimination) is always considered as a first solution. If risks cannot be eliminated, then additional levels of control are considered. Therefore controls from various levels have been used to address the risks identified in the workplace.

  • Industry specific protocols have been reviewed to determine the relevant guidance (risk and control measures) to the industry. This includes but is not limited to: a lab environment, manufacturing facility, office environment, etc.
  • Public health orders, guidance, and notices have been and are continuously reviewed at a regular frequency. Changes are made to the STEMCELL COVID Safety Plan based on the evolving situation.
  • All protocols and expectations are documented in the STEMCELL COVID-19 Safety Guidelines which is published on the company’s internal website.

First level protection (elimination) — Limit the number of people in your workplace where possible by implementing work-from-home arrangements, establishing occupancy limits, rescheduling work tasks, or other means. Rearrange work spaces to ensure that workers are at least 2 m (6 ft.) from co-workers, customers, and members of the public. Only critical visitors are permitted and will be screened prior to entry.

  • All office based staff that have the ability to work from home are working at home to reduce the number of employees onsite. In addition, virtual meetings take place, work tasks have been rescheduled, and the number of people (e.g. vendors, etc.) coming onsite is very minimal and only if absolutely required. Anyone coming onsite is required to participate in a screening procedure (vendors and employees).
  • Occupancy limits have been established and posted throughout STEMCELL facilities in the common areas, including but not limited to lunchrooms, elevators, lab space, etc.
  • Measures have been implemented to keep employees and others at least 2 metres apart wherever possible. Lunchrooms, equipment, workspaces, etc. have been set up in such a way that physical distancing is maintained and can be easily adhered to.
  • All workspaces are assigned. Equipment and workspaces are ‘signed out’ so movement can be tracked and there is documentation that employees are maintaining distance.
  • Employees must follow physical distancing requirements and maintain a safe distance of 2m (6 ft). This includes while in lunchrooms, stairwells, etc.
  • There are defined, controlled entry points in the facilities for mask distribution.
  • Breaks in common areas have been staggered. Employees are encouraged to work onsite only as the work requires and then work from home if not required to be onsite to help reduce the number of people having lunch/breaks onsite.

Second level protection (engineering controls) — If you can’t always maintain physical distancing.

  • STEMCELL has been able to eliminate much of the risk by having employees work from home resulting in significantly fewer staff working on site. . Therefore there hasn’t been a need to introduce engineering controls at this time. However, as/when this changes, this control measure will be re-evaluated.

Third level protection (administrative controls) — COVID-19 Safety Guidelines training prior to working onsite must be completed.

  • The majority of staff will continue to work from home. However, all employees have been required to read and sign off on the STEMCELL COVID Safety Guidelines, which includes completion of an online training module with a competency requirement included.
  • Employees are instructed to adhere to all posted signage. Signage has been placed, both on walls and floors (as appropriate), and includes, but is not limited to: occupancy limits, handwashing instructions, information for visitors, PPE requirements, reminders to maintain physical distancing, COVID screening and symptoms at reception, etc.
  • The following additional resources are available to all employees: frequent and regular communication internally to all employees on relevant public health orders, internal safety standard changes, and mental health resources [access to Employee and Family Assistance (online) Programs].
  • Reminders to not come onsite for work if an employee or their household member is exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19. Employees are to report such cases immediately and each scenario is investigated internally.
  • Contact tracing process is in place for any potential exposures with the appropriate internal communication practices in place. Employees are required to document via an internal software system their movement (e.g. working from home or onsite on a specific day, etc.).
  • Human Resources provide support to employees for their personal situations (e.g. accommodation, additional guidance/support to work through specific matters, etc.).
  • The Health Canada website is regularly monitored to ensure STEMCELL is up-to-date on approved cleaning and disinfectant products. STEMCELL only uses Health Canada approved cleaning agents.
  • Handwashing/ hand sanitizer locations are visible and easily accessible throughout all STEMCELL Facilities. This includes, but is not limited to, reception, outside elevators, in common areas, etc.
  • The need for frequent hand hygiene practices have been and are continuously communicated to employees.
  • Cleaning protocols for all common areas and surfaces (e.g. workspaces, equipment, shared lunchroom tables, door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, photocopiers, etc.) have been implemented. Protocols include: frequency of cleaning, accountability of cleaning, etc.
  • Cleaning and disinfectant material is readily available throughout the STEMCELL Facilities.
  • Unnecessary tools and equipment (e.g. coffee makers, shared utensils/ plates, etc.) have been removed from common areas.

Fourth level protection (PPE) — You must wear a STEMCELL provided mask when working onsite.

  • All employees and visitors that are working onsite are required to wear a STEMCELL provided mask. There is an understanding that PPE (e.g. masks) use has limitations, therefore, elimination has been considered as a first means of control (e.g. reduce number of employees onsite for work).
  • A review of the information on selecting and using masks, as well as instructions on how to use a mask, has been provided.
  • Training on how to wear and remove a mask is demonstrated in the STEMCELL COVID-19 Safety Guidelines document.
  • Face shields are also available as an added means of protection for employee use (optional). Face shields are used in addition to masks.

Step 3: Develop policies

Workplace policies ensure that workers and household members showing symptoms of COVID-19 are prohibited from the workplace.

  • Any employee or their household member that: (1) is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, (2) has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, (3) has been directed by Public Health to self-isolate, and (4) has arrived from outside of Canada must self-isolate for 14 days are not to report onsite for work. Employees are required to report these situations to their Manager and a member of the COVID Steering Committee for further guidance and investigation.
  • Visitors, including vendors, are prohibited or limited in the workplace.
  • STEMCELL has a work from home policy in place.
  • There is posted signage at the main entrance indicating who is restricted from entering the premises, including visitors and employees with symptoms.
  • There is a process in place should an employee start to feel ill while working onsite.

Step 4: Develop communication plans and training

Employers must ensure that everyone entering the workplace knows how to keep themselves safe while at the workplace.

  • There is a training plan to ensure everyone is trained in workplace policies and procedures. All employees have received the policies for staying home when sick.
  • Signage is posted in the workplace (refer to previous sections).
  • Managers have been trained on monitoring workers and the workplace to ensure policies and procedures are being followed.

Step 5: Monitor your workplace and update your plans as necessary

Employers must ensure that everyone entering the workplace knows how to keep themselves safe while at the workplace.

  • There is a plan in place to monitor risks as they present themselves. Changes to policies and procedures are made as necessary based on the evolving pandemic, local health orders, etc.
  • Employees know who to contact for their COVID-19 related health and safety concerns.
  • When resolving safety issues, the COVID-19 Steering Committee and relevant stakeholders will be engaged.

Step 6: Assess and address risks from resuming operations

If a workplace has not been operating for a period of time during the COVID-19 pandemic, the employer will need to manage risks arising from restarting the business.

  • This is not applicable to STEMCELL. However, there is a process and training plan in place for new hires.
  • There is a plan in place around changes to the daily operations.