As companies begin or resume mineral exploration activities, it is important that they think about how they are going to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their work sites and reduce their interactions while conducting work off-site. Employers are now required to include COVID-19 mitigation measures in their safety plans to ensure workers are adhering to public health guidelines. Plans should include information on how employers plan to educate and inform workers about COVID-19 and best practices.
General guidance provided by the Public Health Office:
Limited Interaction and Physical Distancing
- Reduce the number of personnel on-site by staggering shifts.
- Maintain 2 metres distance between workers.
- Use of face coverings should be encouraged when physical distancing can not be achieved.
- Physical distancing in all common areas should be observed.
Increased Hygiene and Protective Actions
- Increase the number of hand-washing stations and post signage encouraging their use.
- Clean commonly touched surfaces daily.
- Regularly clean shared tools, phones, and other devices with alcohol or disinfectant wipes.
- Wear disposable gloves when cleaning is not possible and do not share equipment.
- Assign one driver per vehicle, or clean shared vehicles between driver changes.
- Avoid buffet-style cafeteria.
- Disinfect any surfaces that will come in contact with food.
- Follow all Foodsafe guidelines.
- Each person should have their own room (if possible). Rooms should be cleaned between changes in personnel.
- Sheets, towels and clothing should be washed frequently.
- Symptomatic individuals should isolate in a separate room (tent) with their own washroom (where possible) and have meals delivered to them.
- Monitor workers on entry and do not allow anyone on site if they are or might be sick.
- Anyone with COVID‐19-like symptoms must report to a health professional and self‐isolate immediately for 14 days. Anyone who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 days.
- Workers should be assessed for symptoms before travelling to or within the work site. These assessments should include daily temperature checks and verbal symptom checks.
Community and Public Health Engagement
- Maintain frequent and regular contact with local community leaders and report positive cases as appropriate.
- Minimize or eliminate travel between the work site and nearby communities.
- Maintain a list of all individuals present on site (workers, contractors, suppliers, etc.) and their contact information in case contact tracing is required.
Indigenous and Community Interaction
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are working closely with Indigenous communities to support community-led preparedness and awareness programs in remote areas. Mineral exploration companies typically hire local Indigenous-lead contracting companies and members of local Indigenous communities. Due to these relationships, mineral exploration companies are taking extra care and including stringent measures to protect local communities and other vulnerable populations from the spread of COVID-19 in their safety plans. Some of these measures include:
- Communicating with local communities often about health measure being taken on site and any relevant outcomes.
- Avoiding all non-essential face-to-face activities with community members while still maintaining strong engagement in the community.
- Avoiding travelling through sensitive areas and using staging sites away from local communities.
- Sourcing supplies from head office locations to minimize transport of materials through local communities.
- Providing hygiene training and maintaining strict hygiene protocols while on site.
These mitigation measures are being put in place to protect families and communities of local Indigenous nation employees working in mineral exploration camps.