COVID-19: Movers - Preventive Measures in the Workplace

These measures apply when sustained community transmission has been confirmed by public health authorities. Based on current knowledge, it is known that the disease can be transmitted by asymptomatic people who are carriers of the disease. Therefore, preventive measures are recommended at all times.

Any resumption of non-essential services must be carried out in such a way as to control the transmission of COVID-19. In order to avoid a resumption of transmission, several conditions must be met.

The preventive measures recommended by the government for the general population and the basic recommendations for all workplaces [in French only] apply, unless more restrictive measures are specified.

Special attention must be given to pregnant workers and to workers with certain health conditions.
Please refer to the following recommendations:

Pregnant or nursing workers

Workers with severe chronic diseases [in French only]

Immunosuppressed workers [in French only]

These recommendations aim to protect workers (movers) who have to enter homes, as well as clients, their relatives and the general population by reducing the risk of spreading the virus.
Preventive measures must be implemented for all moves.

Although risk of transmission by surfaces and objects exists, it is currently considered to be minor in the overall context. In the context of a move, the main risk for movers is to have close contact within two meters.

Adjustment of work methods and schedules

To protect the health of employees and others in the workplace, employers and workers are asked to adhere to the isolation guidelines (returning from travel, COVID-19 cases, case contacts) and to take into account other constraints (voluntary school attendance, limited public transit, etc.):

  • Encourage teleworking.
  • Allow flexible hours.
  • Review tasks and arrange for them to be carried out alone, with a small team or in accordance with the new distancing criteria.

Triage of symptomatic workers

  • Advice workers not to come to work if they present symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (see text box below). A symptom questionnaire can be completed before the start of each work shift for all workers.
  • Systematic temperature taking prior to workplace entry is not recommended. If carried out, this measure should be used cautiously and with full knowledge that its ability to detect cases of COVID-19 is limited, for the following reasons, among others:
  • Not every case of COVID-19 presents with fever.
  • Fever fluctuates greatly throughout the day, creating a risk of false negatives.
  • Taking fever-reducing medications (e.g., acetaminophen, ibuprofen) or consuming cold or hot drinks may falsify results.
  • Some temperature measurement devices, such as non-contact devices, may have a significant margin of error.
  • In addition, the personnel taking temperatures must be adequately trained and protected (gloves, procedural mask and protective eyewear).
  • If a worker or client starts experiencing symptoms in the workplace:
  • Have them wear a procedural mask and isolate them in a room designated for this purpose;
  • Call 1 877 644-4545 for instructions;
  • The symptomatic person should consult the Self-care Guide for further details.
    Leave a hard copy of the guide in the isolation room.
  • Workers who have been in contact with the symptomatic person should self-monitor for symptoms while waiting for public health instructions and call 1 877 644 4545 if they develop symptoms.

COVID-19 symptoms

 

If you have the following symptoms, call 1 877 644 4545:

1 of these symptoms                OR                2 of these symptoms
  • Onset or worsening of a cough
  • Fever (temperature of 38°C or higher, taken by mouth)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden loss of sense of smell without nasal congestion, with or without loss of sense of taste
  • A general symptom (muscle pain, headache, extreme fatigue or significant loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea

Hand hygiene

  • Promote and practice hand hygiene by providing workers with all necessary supplies (running water, soap, hydroalcoholic solutions, touchless trash cans, disposable tissues or paper towels, etc.).
  • Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use a hydroalcoholic solution (at least 60% alcohol) for at least 20 seconds if soap and water are not available;
  • At a minimum, all workers should be able to wash their hands on entering and leaving work, after being in contact with frequently touched surfaces (switches, door handles, microwaves, handrails, etc.), before and after breaks and meals, when using the washroom, and when entering/exiting elevators.
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth with hands or gloves.
  • In general, wearing gloves to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 is not recommended unless otherwise advised, as it may produce a false sense of security. Gloves can become contaminated and thus contaminate the wearer who touches their face or contaminate the various surfaces touched

Respiratory etiquette

Respect and promote respiratory etiquette: coughing into one’s bent elbow or into a tissue and blowing one’s nose into a tissue that is discarded in a lidded trash can immediately after use, then washing hands as soon as possible.

Physical distancing and minimization of contacts

The more contact between different persons, the greater the risk that one of these contacts will be with a contagious person and, therefore, the greater the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Thus, minimizing the number, frequency and duration of contacts, as well as respecting a physical distance of two metres at all times between all persons are the most effective measures and must be prioritized:

  • Opt for teleworking.
  • Reduce activities to those deemed essential.
  • Keep the number of workers present on site to the absolute minimum required.
  • Limit the number of persons in the workplace (workers, clients or any suppliers or subcontractors) by reorganizing work and services.
  • Opt for small work teams that remain consistent over weeks or even months, to avoid the multiplication of interactions:
  • Always keep the same work teams – have as few workers as possible on these teams;
  • Keep the same workers at the same workstations in so far as possible and ensure that workers are assigned to a single worksite.
  • Avoid direct contact (handshakes, hugs).
  • Reorganize physical workspaces and work activities so as to respect the minimum two-metre physical distance between persons:
  • Modify work methods;
  • Avoid in-person meetings and gatherings. Opt for alternative methods such as videoconferencing, or prerecorded telephone or video messages.
Note: Passing by someone without contact, in a corridor or on a staircase for example, represents a low risk.

Pay particular attention to the following situations

Bottlenecks

Pay particular attention to areas acting as bottlenecks (e.g., home entrance, truck cargo, etc.):

  • Avoid lineups of people standing close together in these areas.

Working less than two metres apart

For tasks where it is impossible to maintain a minimum two-metre distance from anyone for more than 15 cumulative minutes in a single work shift, adjustments must be made:

When distancing from customers is impossible:

As a general rule, keeping a minimum distance of two metres from customers should be possible. Exceptions to this rule may be made in certain exceptional situations:

  • Wearing a quality1 medical procedural mask and eye protection (safety glasses or face shield) is recommended.
  • In the exceptional case where the client is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 or presents symptoms listed in the previous table, when moving is deemed unavoidable but the minimum two-meter distance cannot be maintained with this person (regardless of the duration), movers must wear :
  • A quality procedural mask, eye protection (safety glasses and face shield), overgarment and gloves.

When distancing from colleagues is impossible:

  • Wearing a quality medical procedural mask alone is permitted if all colleagues within two metres also wear the same type of mask and when there is no contact with clients. Otherwise, workers must add eye protection.
  • Movers working in pairs to transport large pieces of furniture should both wear a medical procedural mask.

In the moving truck

  • Always assign the same workers to the same places in the vehicle for each trip.
  • Remove non-essential items from the vehicle (e.g., magazines, newspapers, decorations, etc.).
  • Ensure that work tools remain in the truck box and not in the passenger compartment or cabin.
  • Do not set the ventilation system to recirculation mode inside the vehicle, but ventilate well by opening the windows, whenever possible.
  • Provide workers with a hydroalcoholic solution of at least 60% alcohol or with disinfectant wipes so they can clean their hands when there is no access to soap and water.
  • Clean and disinfect regularly touched surfaces of the vehicle (dashboard, steering wheel, transmission arm, interior and exterior door handles, interior mirror, etc.) at least every shift and when changing drivers or passengers, using the usual cleaning and disinfecting products.

For close contacts (continuous and unavoidable) between workers in a vehicle

  • Limit the number of movers in the cabin if possible and opt for consistent teams (avoid frequently changing or rotating workers on a work-team) in order to limit the multiplication of interactions. Respect the minimum two-meter distance whenever possible.
  • If it is impossible to respect the minimum distance between workers in the cabin:
  • Opt for consistent pairings of workers to avoid multiplicating interactions, i.e., paired movers who work together continuously for weeks, or even months. This measure is effective provided that all other measures are rigorously applied;
  • Maintain the same position (ex. driver or co-pilot) for the entire work shift, as much as possible;
  • If consistent pairings are not an option, workers should wear a quality medical procedural mask2 in the vehicle.

Preventive measures to put in place for the move

Prior to moving day

When signing the contract, inform the customer of the preventive measures to be observed by transmitting the following information:

Before movers arrive at your home

If there is someone in your home with COVID-19 or with symptoms suggestive of the disease (see table below), postpone moving, all the more in the situation of vulnerable people or with symptoms of COVID-19. If this is not possible and moving is essential, customers can call the Info-Social line (8-1-1) to explore possible solutions.

COVID-19 symptoms

 

If you have the following symptoms, call 1 877 644 4545:

1 of these symptoms                OR                2 of these symptoms
  • Onset or worsening of a cough
  • Fever (temperature of 38°C or higher, taken by mouth)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden loss of sense of smell without nasal congestion, with or without loss of sense of taste
  • A general symptom (muscle pain, headache, extreme fatigue or significant loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea

Before the movers arrive

  • Clean all surfaces with the usual cleaning products. Pay attention to door and cupboard handles, light switches, faucets, etc.
  • Open doors to rooms and closets and turn on lights.
  • Have only one family member present to greet and guide the movers, keeping a minimum distance of two metres at all times.
  • If you are doing the packing yourself, be sure to prepare the boxes before the movers arrive.
  • Whenever possible, place boxes and smaller items at the entrance to limit the comings and goings of movers in different rooms.
  • Have a pen with which to sign the contract.

Upon arrival at the new location

  • Have only one person to greet and guide the movers, keeping a minimum distance of two metres at all times.
  • Make sure in advance that there is no one with symptoms suggestive of the disease.
  • Clean all surfaces that may have been in contact with previous occupants with the usual cleaning products. Pay attention to door and cabinet handles, switches, faucets, etc.
  • Wash your hands before and after unpacking the boxes and dispose of them gradually during recycling

During the move

  • When arriving (departure and destination), clean door handles and light switches with the usual cleaning products.
  • Avoid putting your hands on your face and wash your hands often, especially:
    • After handling furniture and household items;
    • Before and after eating. If possible, avoid eating inside the vehicle.
  • The usual practice of wearing work gloves when carrying out a move must be maintained:
    • Remove gloves before entering the vehicle cabin and place them in a resealable bag or container;
    • Wash hands with soap and water or a hydro-alcoholic solution each time gloves are removed;
    • Put gloves back on outside the vehicle cabin as needed for routine moving tasks.
  • Ensure that work tools remain in the truck box and not in the cabin.

After the move

  • Clean and disinfect regularly touched surfaces of the vehicle (dashboard, steering wheel, transmission arm, interior and exterior door handles, interior mirror, etc.) using the usual cleaning and disinfecting products frequently during the shift, especially before eating (if inside the truck) and when changing drivers or passengers.
  • Additional information on cleaning and disinfecting is available from Health Canada and INSPQ.
  • Safely remove personal protection equipment (PPE):
  • Remove gloves and put them in a hermetically-sealed bag with other clothes to be washed at the end of the day (see clothes section below). Wash hands with a hydroalcoholic solution;
  • Remove and disinfect eye protection device if worn, as well as the area where it had been placed pending disinfection, with a product suitable for this equipment;
  • Wash hands with a hydroalcoholic solution;
  • Remove the mask handling it by the elastics without touching the face-covering part (paper). Dispose of it after use in a hermetically-sealed bag, and finish by washing hands with a hydroalcoholic solution;
  • Dispose of the bag containing non-reusable protective equipment;
  • Ensure that hands are washed with soap and water (lather at least 20 seconds before rinsing) or use a hydroalcoholic solution after the intervention.

Pay particular attention to the following situations

Moving confirmed cases of COVID-19, symptomatic or vulnerable individuals

The first recommendation is to postpone any non-essential move. If this is not possible, call the Info-Social line (8-1-1) to explore possible alternatives.

If moving proves to be unavoidable, the above-mentioned preventive measures must be strictly applied and:

  • Avoid having the person with COVID-19 present on site at the time of the move.
  • Avoid having symptomatic persons present on site at the time of the move (see table above). 
  • Avoid having vulnerable persons present on site at the time of the move (e.g. persons over 70 years of age; immunocompromised persons).
  • If this is not possible (e.g. a person living alone whose move is unavoidable), this person must be isolated in a room. If contacts within two meters are to be expected with these persons, the movers must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment presented in the section: "Working less than two meters apart", namely:
  • A quality medical procedural mask1, Eye protection (safety glasses or face shield), Protective overgarnment, Disposable protective gloves (ex. rubber);
  • After moving, safely remove personal protection equipment (PPE):
    • Remove gloves and put them in a hermetically-sealed bag. Wash hands with a hydroalcoholic solution;
    • Remove protective clothing and put them in a hermetically-sealed bag. Wash hands with a hydroalcoholic solution;
    • Remove eye protection device. Wash hands with a hydroalcoholic solution;
    • Remove the mask handling it by the elastics without touching the face-covering part (paper). Dispose of it after use in a hermetically-sealed bag, and finish by washing hands with a hydroalcoholic solution;
    • Disinfect reusable eye protection device, as well as the area where it had been placed pending disinfection, with a product suitable for this equipment;
    • Dispose of the bag containing non-reusable protective equipment;
    • Ensure that hands are washed with soap and water (lather at least 20 seconds before rinsing) or use a hydroalcoholic solution after the intervention;
    • The following video provides additional information [in French only]: Procédure d’habillage et de déshabillage pour les précautions gouttelettes contact avec protection oculaire.

Moving to a seniors residence or a CHSLD (residential and long-term care centre)

The first recommendation is to postpone any non-essential move. If this is not possible, call the Info-Social line (8-1-1) to explore possible alternatives.

If moving proves to be unavoidable, the above-mentioned preventive measures must be strictly applied and:

  • Prior to moving day, make arrangements with the residence or the CHSLD to leave the belongings of the person being moved at the entrance to the residence to avoid having the movers go inside. Staff will transport the belongings to the resident's room or unit. Ensure that the person’s belongings will not be accessible to other residents.
  • Prevent residents from coming close to where the movers will be circulating (keep access doors closed and establish an exclusion zone).
  • After the movers have left, clean surfaces that may have been touched with the usual products.
  • With respect to the isolation of the newcomer, the residence must follow the measures recommended in the following notice on the INSPQ’s website [in French only].

Breaks and meals

  • Ensure that physical distancing measures are applied during breaks and meals (e.g., avoid gatherings).
  • Ensure workers have access to rooms large enough to allow a minimum two-metre distance between each of them. Arrange for additional rooms if necessary.
  • Remove non-essential objects (magazines, newspapers, knick-knacks) from common areas.
  • If no other room is available, modify meal time schedules so as to have a limited number of workers in the dining room at all times or ask personnel who can eat at their desks to do so.
  • Ensure that the same groups of workers eat at the same time, in the same room, day after day. If workers eat outside the facility, ensure that they respect the minimum two-metre distance between each person.
  • Do not share food or objects (e.g., cigarettes, pens or pencils, cell phones, coins or bills). If objects are shared, make sure they are cleaned between users.
  • Do not exchange cups, glasses, plates, or utensils; wash dishes in hot water with soap.

Elevators

If possible, respect the minimum two-metre distance between users, otherwise:

  • Reduce the number of users to the smallest number necessary to prevent any physical contact between them.
  • The further people are from each other, the lower the risk of virus transmission.
  • Display the maximum capacity (number of people) at the entrance of each elevator.
  • Advise users to avoid all physical contact.
  • If movers use procedural masks while working, they must wear them in the elevator when the two-metre distance cannot be respected. Movers who do not already wear a procedural mask while working should consider using one.
  • The minimum two-metre physical distance is a recognized measure for avoiding transmission of the virus and should be prioritized at all times. Using a mask is a measure that complements distancing and does not replace it.
  • If you touch your mask, wash your hands afterwards to avoid contaminating your surroundings and those around you.
  • Ensure that the elevator's ventilation system is well maintained and operates according to current standards.
  • Wash your hands upon entering and exiting the elevator.
  • For more recommendations concerning the use of elevators in the workplace, refer to the INSPQ information sheet on workers using elevators [in French only].

Handling of objects and signing of documents

  • It is recommended that a protocol for the safe handling of documents be established. Whenever possible, minimize the exchange of hardcopy documents (e.g., sign contracts and delivery slips electronically).
  • Where hardcopy documents are required:
  • Hand over and retrieve documents by placing them on a clean surface, while maintaining the two-metre distance between individuals;
  • Do not share pens with others; they must use their own pen;
  • Set out pens for clients to keep if they did not bring their own pen to sign documents;
  • Clean the pen with a damp cloth and mild soap as needed or with pre-moistened wipes, when soiled;
  • When retrieving documents, place them in an envelope and transport them in a document carrier. When submitting the contract, inform the client of the preventive measures that must be respected.

Portable air conditioning and ventilation

  • When required, stand-alone air conditioners and fans can be used with care while respecting certain measures outlined in the following information sheet [in French only]. 

Washing clothes

  • Wash clothing worn at work at the end of each workday in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, using the hottest water setting suitable for these articles of clothing and the usual detergent.
  • Avoid shaking dirty clothing.
  • This clothing does not have to be washed separately from other clothes.
  • Ensure proper drying.
  • Ensure that work clothing and gloves are always used by the same worker if they have not yet been washed. Consider increasing stores of spare replacement equipment so it can be washed more frequently.

First-aid workers in the workplace

For more details on the recommendations made to first-aid workers in the workplace, refer to the following information sheet: First-Aid in the Workplace [in French only].

Information-promotion-training

Place posters reminding people of the importance of hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing in strategic areas.

Have a plan for informing and training workers and managers with regard to protective and preventive measures.

Follow the available online training courses on preventive and protective measures to be taken in relation to COVID-19: COVID-19 et santé au travail (in French only).

Psychological health and prevention of psychosocial risks at work

  • In addition to controlling the risks of transmission of COVID-19, it is recommended that attention also be paid to ensuring a psychosocial work environment conducive to psychological health and to taking the necessary actions to prevent worker psychological distress directly or indirectly related to the pandemic.
  • Refer to the INSPQ information sheet and the IRSST guidelines (both in French only).

Pandemic contingency plan

  • Have a pandemic contingency plan adapted to the specific context of your workplace and see to its implementation. For more details, refer to the following: MSSS and IRSST pour les PME [in French only].

1 Ideally, masks with compliance testing (ASTM) should be preferred. For details on quality standards and for criteria to help the employer choose the right masks in situations of real or apprehended shortages, refer to the following documents: Mesures exceptionnelles pour les équipements de protection individuelle lors de pandémie and Masques chirurgicaux ou de procédures : choix de l'équipement sur le choix des masques de procédure [in French only].
2 Ideally, masks with compliance testing (ASTM) should be preferred. For details on quality standards and for criteria to help the employer choose the right masks in situations of real or apprehended shortages, refer to the following documents: Mesures exceptionnelles pour les équipements de protection individuelle lors de pandémie and Masques chirurgicaux ou de procédures : choix de l'équipement sur le choix des masques de procédure [in French only].
3 Ideally, masks with compliance testing (ASTM) should be preferred. For details on quality standards and for criteria to help the employer choose the right masks in situations of real or apprehended shortages, refer to the following documents: Mesures exceptionnelles pour les équipements de protection individuelle lors de pandémie


Acknowledgements: We wish to thank the IRSST and the CNESST for their comments provided during the revision of the French version of this information sheet.

Notes: 

The preceding recommendations are based on the latest available information at the time of writing. Given that the situation and knowledge about the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) are evolving rapidly, the recommendations in this document are subject to change.

COVID-19: Interim Recommendations for Movers

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