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Infection Prevention and Control

Safe At Work Ontario

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Overview

Over the past decade, a number of outbreaks related to infectious diseases (such as norovirus, Clostridium difficile, and influenza) have affected workers and others in health and community care workplaces.

In Ontario, more than 500,000 people work in the health care sector at more than 6,000 hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, community care and other workplaces.

Health care workers are potentially at risk from exposure to infections in the workplace. Employers have a responsibility to control hazards in the workplace. These hazards may include infectious agents.

Employers, supervisors and workers have responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Some of the general duties are listed here.

Employers

  • Provide information, instruction and supervision to workers to protect their health and safety, which includes protection from the hazards of infections
  • Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers, which includes protection from the hazards of infection
  • Provide the required equipment, materials and protective devices, and ensure these are used and maintained properly
  • Report occupational illnesses to the Ministry of Labour, trade union (if any), and the workplace's Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative (HSR)
  • If the Needle Safety Regulation applies, provide workers with safety-engineered needles whenever hollow-bore needles are to be used
  • If the workplace is regulated by the Health Care and Residential Facilities Regulation:
    • the employer must develop written measures and procedures for the health and safety of workers
    • health and safety measures and procedures must be developed in consultation with the JHSC or HSR
    • the measures and procedures may include issues such as safe work practices, proper hygiene practices, the control of infections, immunization and inoculation against infectious diseases, the use of appropriate antiseptics, disinfectants and decontaminants, and the use and care of personal protective equipment

Supervisors

  • Take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances for the protection of workers
  • Ensure workers comply with the OHSA and its regulations and ensure workers use any equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer
  • Advise workers of any potential or actual health and safety dangers that the supervisor knows about.

Workers

  • Report to your supervisor or employer any hazards of which you are aware, including those related to infections, as well as any contraventions of the OHSA and its regulations
  • Work in compliance with the OHSA and its regulations
  • Use the personal protective equipment required by your employer.

Other health and safety best practices

All workplace parties should:

  • Follow routine practices and precautions to control and prevent the transmission of infection
  • All workers should use proper hand washing techniques and alcohol-based hand rubs to ensure good hand hygiene
  • Use good infection control practices, such as covering a cough or sneeze, getting immunized and staying at home if you are sick.

More information on infection control

Toll–free Number

Call 1–877–202–0008 any time to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. Call 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday for general inquiries about workplace health and safety. Always call 911 in an emergency.

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.