Labour & Employment Law Blog

Masks at the Workplace in Ontario during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Masks at the Workplace in Ontario during the COVID-19 Pandemic

If you are interested to find out more about some of your responsibilities, as an employer, with respect to the wearing of masks at the workplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic you should visit the Ontario government’s website at the following link: https://www.ontario.ca/page/using-masks-workplace#section-3

Briefly, the Ontario government suggests that masks can be used in two ways at the workplace: as a source control (i.e. where the wearer is protecting others from him or herself) or as a personal protective equipment (i.e. where the wearer is being protected from others). It is suggested that not all masks are suitable for both purposes and particular types of masks have to be selected depending on the workplace.

In instances where a person is legally exempt from wearing a mask, such as due to reasons consistent with an employer’s obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code, then the employer may seek to implement additional protective measures to comply with its legal requirements under Ontario law. Accommodating someone’s exemption should not result in a reduction of the safety of others and the employer must reasonably balance the interests of those involved.

Employers may likewise be required to implement training sessions where they are of the opinion that other personal protective equipment is needed in the workplace in addition to masks.

The government sets out that, among other things, a mask should securely cover the nose and mouth and fit closely to the face without gaps. Masks should not have tears and should be clean and dry. Importantly, a mask should not introduce new health or safety hazards into the workplace such as masks getting caught in machinery or restricting vision.

Finally, face shields may be acceptable as a personal protective equipment to protect the eyes. However, the degree to which a face shield provides with adequate protection may not be appropriate in all the circumstances. Face shields should not be used in place of masks.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.