What follows details the steps that Spectrum Resource Group is implementing in response to COVID-19. The situation is evolving daily, and sometimes hourly, it is important to note that measures, means and conditions will also change and adapt.
This bulletin addresses five sets of considerations related to prevention and mitigation of COVID-19, with special attention to work camps where workers gather during the primary tree planting season that runs from mid-May to early August. There are key conditions to silviculture and tree planting work that inform the recommendations in this bulletin:
- The majority of workers arrive at their seasonal job from distant locations and may be exposed to illness during travel.
- Work camps comprise isolated systems. It is IMPERATIVE that proper steps are taken to prevent introduction of COVID-19 or any other illness to work camps and crews, in order to protect the health of all members of that camp, and to preserve the opportunity of all staff to perform their jobs.
- Workers share common spaces in bush camps, in shared dining and washing facilities in camps, in lodge or motel accommodations, and in the trucks the use to get to work each day.
- Washing and hygiene facilities in camps are sometimes limited.
- Workers travel through the province throughout the season, and frequently use public facilities on days off.
- Many workers live outside in tents for several months of the work season.
PRE-SEASON COMMUNICATION AND PLANNING
- Spectrum will instruct staff to exercise proper precautions when traveling to work, including frequent hand
washing, minimizing contact with large crowds, and avoiding touching one’s own face when in public places.
- Spectrum will keep staff informed of the steps that we are taking to protect them from COVID-19. Staff are
encouraged to be part of the solution in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for the coming season.
- Staff will be provided with a Coronavirus Fact Sheet, obtained from a government agency or Center for Disease Control.
- Staff with questions will be directed toward recognized information sources, such as government websites.
- Spectrum will provide additional training for replacement staff in key positions who can step into place in the case of a supervisor, crew boss, or other key staff becoming unavailable due to illness.
- First aid attendants and supervisors will receive additional education, about COVID-19, including appropriate support for mild to severe cases.
- Suppliers will be contacted in advance to ensure timely delivery of sufficient hygiene and cleaning supplies, including hand soap and hand sanitizer.
- Workers are encouraged to bring their own sanitizer and hygiene supplies for personal use both on and off the jobsite.
- Spectrum will identify potential rental accommodations in case of a need to provide additional warm and dry facilities for workers affected by COVID19 or subject to quarantine.
- Contact information for Medical Health Officers in the areas of operation will be included in Emergency Response Plan documents.
CAMP AND CREW SCREENING
The primary focus of illness-prevention protocols should be preventing the introduction of disease to the camp. Camps that maintain proper screening measures have the opportunity to operate in a sheltered environment and may provide safe refuge from the spread of illness elsewhere in public. However, healthy conditions in camp will only occur if two conditions are met:
- Spectrum will exercise proper pre-screening and education measures.
- Spectrum’s workers must cooperate with the steps designed to protect them through the pandemic period.
Efforts to screen staff must begin immediately in order to ensure that staff are given adequate notice to adjust their schedules for the coming season. All staff must understand that their individual choices can impact a wider group, and they are personally responsible for doing their part in not spreading illness to the workplace.
A system to pre-screen staff prior to them arriving at or proceeding to camp will be developed according to best practises at the time. This will help protect both the health and viability of your operations, and the overall integrity and stability of the industry. Pre-screening may include asking questions, setting self-quarantine thresholds, and conducting tests upon arrival.
- Staff who are returning from areas known to have high infection concentrations should be instructed to stay home for 14 days after leaving those areas. They should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough.
- Staff who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days after their last encounter and avoid contact with other people, including other company staff. Individuals should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever and cough.
- Staff who have travelled to other areas not currently affected by major outbreaks should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough for 14 days.
- Kitchen staff must be particularly diligent in self-reporting, as they have the potential to impact large numbers of fellow staff.
If mandatory employee temperature testing becomes justified in Canada and in our Industry, Spectrum will consider it as a potential course of action. In the course of doing so, the dignity of employees will be ensured throughout the process. Results of employees’ tests should be kept in the strictest of confidence; they should not be shared with other employees, except on a “need to know” basis. Employees with whom the information has been shared because they “need to know” should be reminded that they are prohibited from disclosing it for unauthorized purposes.
Temperature screening must be done by a trained person with a properly calibrated device, with temperature thresholds based on Health Canada guidelines or input from a Medical Health Officer. Common thresholds for COVID-19 screening at this time specify 37.5 degrees as an indicator of potential infection.
CAMP AND WORKPLACE MODIFICATIONS
- Given that all camps are somewhat unique as to their distance from a support centre, each one of Spectrum’s camps shall have an “Outbreak Prevention and Response Plan” that will be developed by Spectrum management, in consultation with authorities and our clients that will be posted in camp and followed at all times.
- Spectrum is exploring ways and means of reducing the amount of personnel in camp at any given time to arrive at levels below currently set thresholds of 50 persons. Examples of this could include the deployment of other camp resources, thereby reducing the number of personnel at any one given site or providing additional equipment and using the facilities in a shift or rota fashion. More on this as the situation evolves.
- As we have done in the past in certain isolated camp situations, Spectrum is exploring ways to limit the number of trips out of camp into the community without unduly impacting worker health and wellness.
- Spectrum will increase and improve hand-washing facilities. Effective handwashing requires heated running water, soap, and appropriate hand-drying supplies. Hand-washing facilities should be provided in sufficient number and size to accommodate workers without line-ups or delay. Basins of stagnant or re-used water should NOT be used for handwashing purposes. Practical hand-washing systems may include:
- Sinks with running and heated water.
- Trough or gutter-style systems with running heated water.
- Refillable water containers with spigots, filled with warm water, with catch basins or buckets underneath. Such containers can be placed on tables or blocks in multiple locations and required refiling at period of peak camp activity.
- Hand sanitizer is a helpful addition to the workplace but is not as effective as soap and water.
- Hand-washing facilities will be located immediately adjacent to washrooms and shared dining and gathering areas.
- Hand-drying facilities will be provided. These may include containers of paper towels or dispensing devices. Rain-shelters may be necessary to ensure that supplies remain dry.
- Additional staff will be assigned to maintain hand-washing and drying facilities in camps. Supplies will be checked and replenished daily.
- Enhanced sanitization of common dining areas and kitchens will be conducted. Cleaning will occur after every meal or between meal shifts as the case may be.
- Proper sanitization of crew vehicles will occur on a regular basis, at least once per shift.
- Additional staff will be hired to focus on sanitation issues such as cleaning dishes, showers and toilets on a regular basis.
- N-95 masks will be provided for use by staff with coughing or sneezing symptoms so that they may reduce their risk of transmitting illness to other people.
- Thin disposable gloves will be provided for any self-serve food areas to prevent staff from touching common utensils or food serving systems.
- Spectrum will limit camp visitors to only those persons necessary for the operation of your workplace. Ensure all camp visitors are thoroughly oriented with your hygiene and illness-prevention program.
- Cooks and assistance will use personal protective equipment to the highest recommended standard at the time. This currently would include an N95 respirator, safety glasses, hair net, disposable apron and gloves.
- Regular discussions on illness-prevention steps will take place.
- Spectrum will encourage staff to maintain healthy routines that support positive immune responses to all potential illness. This includes reducing sugar consumption, avoiding excess alcohol consumption, ensuring adequate sleep on a nightly basis, and maintaining good hygiene.
- Staff will be instructed to treat toilets and other shared facilities with respect, and to take steps to avoid contaminating common surfaces. Substandard conditions should be reported promptly.
- Spectrum will enforce hand washing prior to entering any dining or common area, and immediately after using bathrooms.
- Instruction will be provided on proper hand-washing techniques, of lathered scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, rinsing and drying.
- Staff will be instructed to wash hands prior to entering trucks at the beginning and end of each day. Workers in the field should be instructed to carry additional water and hand soap for this purpose.
- Workers will be encouraged to limit their contact with crowds and busy public areas on days off. Use of public washrooms should be limited and should always include proper hand-washing habits.
POTENTIAL OUTBREAK RESPONSE
In the case of any suspected individual case or suspected exposure of COVID-19 at work, the supervisor must immediately contact a Medical Health Officer for instructions. Given that conditions are changing and access to medical services may vary by area, it is critical that a proper authority is consulted in order to weigh the needs of the affected person(s) with any risk of transmission to other people or populations.
- Spectrum will maintain family and emergency contact information for all staff.
- Spectrum will institute heightened hygiene and social-distancing measures in an any case of reported exposure among their staff.
- Workers will be encouraged to take sick days and to self-quarantine if potential symptoms emerge, and no workers shall be pressured to stay at work.
- In the case of a suspected case of COVID-19, Spectrum will inquire with Medical Health Officers about any challenges or risks associated with affected workers living in an outside environment such as a tent-based camp.
- Spectrum will communicate with all staff and with clients with respect to any potential camp or crew quarantine situation. For this section in particular, it must be noted that Spectrum and the industry as whole in conjunction with our clients and the health authorities continue to explore what an acceptable response would be should a case present itself in one of our camps. Personnel isolation / quarantine could include housing workers away from the work area in a smaller satellite camp or accommodation.
Spectrum Resource Group Management Team