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How the safety of the public and our employees is guiding our COVID-19 response
August 7, 2020
As the first cases of COVID-19 began to appear in Canada, we worked quickly to develop and revise safe work procedures. Kent Blackmon, our Organizational Safety Services Manager, was guided by two main goals – keep the public safe and keep our employees safe.
“We had to be nimble and really focus our efforts to get thing done in a short about of time,” said Blackmon, adding one of the biggest struggles has been keeping up with the evolving information about COVID-19.
As with any safety concern, Blackmon said the focus initially was on avoiding the hazard. In the context of COVID-19, that meant getting people spread out to avoid close contact and modifying how tasks were being done.
“We want the best for our employees and need to make sure they can return safely home at the end of the day,” he said. “We follow the guidance of the province and the Public Health Officer and build on that.”
Ensuring work is safe
Several procedures had to be rewritten with COVID-19 risks in mind, including conducting front counter face-to-face interaction with the public, handling mail, and training employees on proper face mask usage. This was in addition to stocking additional cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and necessary personal protective equipment.
Each one of our approximately 10,000 employees was impacted in some way. Blackmon said he is impressed with how understanding everyone has been and willing to adjust how they do their jobs to keep themselves and others safe.
Blackmon has heard from other cities and large organizations who wanted to find out how we are doing things and use that as a guide.
“That was reassuring for us,” he said.
Before any City services resumes, a thorough assessment is done by our Office of Emergency Management and safety is a significant part of the process. Not only does a resumption plan need to work on paper, it has to be able to physically work when put into practice.
“This is something you don’t rush,” Blackmon said.
Visitors to our facilities will notice plexiglass at our counters, floor decals to help with social distancing guidelines, increased availability of hand sanitizer, among other changes. Enhanced cleaning requirements have also been put in place.
“When we open the doors to a facility, we really mean it,” said Blackmon. “We will do everything to make sure things are safe and complying with public health requirements.”
Our COVID-19 website will continue to be updated with the latest information on affected programs and services.