Dufferin News Municipal

More on ‘Workplace Isolating’ in East Garafraxa Township

More on 'Workplace Isolating' in East Garafraxa Township

On December 8, 2020, East Garafraxa Township notified the public that the Administration office and the Public Works Yard will be closed until further notice due to COVID-19. After learning that all of East Garafraxa’s public works staff were isolating until December 16th, Dufferin News discovered that they were still working.

East Garafraxa Chief Administrative Officer Susan Stone provided the following details on the situation.

“The Public Works Department are all isolating until December 16, 2020; however, as the municipality employees are deemed ‘essential workers’, they will be ‘workplace isolating’ so therefore working and clearing the roads, patrolling, etc. as long as they are well and showing no symptoms, taking necessary precautions and practicing Covid measures, and are working in isolation of each other and others.”

As mentioned in the previous reporting, healthcare workers have had to engage in ‘workplace isolation’ and Ontario Public Health has published recommendations regarding the procedure for those in the sector. Dufferin News has also reported how it was possible that teachers who have been exposed to COVID-19, even through a spouse, may be allowed to teach in class as long as they are asymptomatic. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health told Dufferin News that if they determine that a teacher has had a ‘high-risk exposure’ the teacher can not return to the classroom until tested and having isolated for 14 days.

Dufferin News made inquiries to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health regarding the practice of ‘workplace isolating’ for those not employed in healthcare, and they have since responded.

WDGPH’s guidance for those isolating while in the workplace is similar to that of Public Health Ontario’s for those employed in the healthcare sector. For workers who are self-isolating, self-isolation applies for 14 days from a return from travel and/or the last unprotected exposure to a person with COVID-19. Individuals can stop self-isolating after 14 days if they have not developed symptoms such as a fever and/or cough.

The exact guidance for self-isolating while working, provided by Danny Williamson of WDGPH, is below:

  • Twice-daily temperature checks
  • Travel to and from work in a private vehicle or use of a surgical/procedure mask and hand hygiene before and after travel for transit use
  • Use of a surgical/procedure mask and any additional required Personal Protective Equipment (based on Routine Practices and Additional Precautions) during any time at work
  • Meals eaten outside shared lunch spaces and not in the company of others
  • Work in only one facility, where possible
  • Self-isolation when outside of the workplace

When asked if more essential workers could be directed to workplace isolate as long as they are asymptomatic and if this is the first time it has occurred outside of the healthcare sector in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Williamson responded as followed.

“During the pandemic, workplace isolation has been permitted in special circumstances outside of the healthcare sector. This includes roles that are critical to the function of our community – such as public works. Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis, only after a thorough risk assessment is completed to ensure the safety of the public.”

Last week, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health recommended that their jurisdiction be moved into the ‘red-zone’ by the province, bringing upon further restrictions, which was acted upon and takes effect Monday, December 14th.

East Garafraxa CAO Susan Stone advised that the Township would distribute updates to the public regarding the facility closures through their website and social media channels.

If you know of an individual that has had to self-isolate in the workplace who may be open to sharing their story, including those in the healthcare sector, please ask them to reach out to Dufferin News through tips@dufferin.news.

References – More on ‘Workplace Isolating’ in East Garafraxa Township

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