Despite the increase in remote work during the COVID-19 quarantine, many employees still continue to work on the frontlines. These include miners, whose industry is essential for the production of important healthcare products.
Miners should be aware of their rights in the workplace during the pandemic. They are entitled to a safe and healthy workplace, including disinfectant measures, social distancing, screening, testing, education and awareness programs, and PPE.
The terms “remote work” and “work from home” have been heavily discussed in recent months, as many companies moved their employees to home offices in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, it is clear that remote work is not possible for everyone, as “essential” workers continue to work on the frontlines during the pandemic. This includes employees who are working in the mining industry, which the Canadian and US governments have deemed an essential service because the industry provides minerals needed for the manufacturing of healthcare products.
As the pandemic presses on, TPD shares key factors for miners who have been working intermittently during this time, or who are being called back to work, to be aware of.
Know Your Rights
Employers have a responsibility under occupational health and safety legislation to maintain a safe and healthy work environment, and employees are entitled to a safe workplace.
If a safe and healthy workplace has been provided, then employees must return to work. However, if workers believe that their company has not implemented sufficient safety measures or met safety guidelines set by the government, then they can engage in what is known as work refusal. Staff must advise their managers of the refusal, and if the employer does not fix the issue, then an inspector will review the workplace.
So, how will you determine if your workplace has met crucial health and safety regulations? The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) outlines the practices that members of the industry should take to manage the risk of COVID-19 at mine sites, in accordance with industry practices and public health guidance:
To prevent a possible COVID-19 infection and curb the spread of the virus, site operations should reduce the number of on-site personnel. This ensures that workers can maintain a safe physical distance of 6 feet (2 meters) from one another. Employers should also reduce both the number and the size of in-person meetings and gatherings.
At the moment, there are various high-tech solutions on the market that your employer may implement to help administer social distancing protocols, such as wristbands that can help workers maintain safe distances and help managers do contact tracing.
In addition, on-site handwashing or disinfection stations, as well as hand sanitizers, should be increased in number and be made easily accessible.
Screening & Testing
Employers should deploy appropriate screening measures, such as temperature checks, online self-assessment tools, and self-monitoring forms, to detect the first signs of illness before it spreads throughout the workplace.
If COVID-19 symptoms appear in an employee, or if an employee reports having symptoms that may be the result of the coronavirus, a rapid-testing kit should be administered.
Education & Awareness
Staff should receive regular updates from HR, as well as support from within their place of employment. Employers should give frequent reminders to follow social distancing guidelines and avoid touching one’s face, including signage outlining or illustrating the protocols. Advice on when and how to properly wash one’s hands, and how to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, should also be provided.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
In addition to workers’ necessary on-site equipment, each member of the workforce should be provided with the PPE required to maintain hygiene and cleanliness, including face masks. Staff should be trained on how to properly apply and dispose of their PPE.
Let TPD Help You
If you are an employee currently working in the mining sector, or if you are a candidate who is searching for safe and compliant employment opportunities within this field, contact TPD with your inquiries, and our experienced HR experts would be happy to help.
Feel free to get in touch with us here, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 1.844.873.4745. For additional HR resources, please visit our COVID-19 HR Support Centre.