October 18-24, 2020 is Small Business Week in Canada. Small businesses, defined as employers who employ less than 50 workers, make up over 80% of businesses in Ontario! Small Business Week is a national celebration of entrepreneurs and their important contribution to our economy.
2020 has arguably been one of the most challenging years for small businesses due to COVID-19 and its impact on our physical, mental and occupational health. Workplaces look a lot different now. The pandemic has affected how business is conducted – from how work gets done to where workers work and how they interact with one another. Attached to these changes are existing legal responsibilities for managing occupational health and safety. For small businesses, constraints related to time, resources and money are even more magnified during this time.
To support small businesses during COVID-19, Public Services Health & Safety Association has published over 70 Workplace-specific Guidance Documents to support workers and employers. These resources include examples of best practices workplaces can adopt to protect the health and safety of workers, clients and the public, and reduce the spread of the virus. There are several guidance documents related to small businesses, including for Office Settings, Dental Offices, Group Homes, Childcare Centres, Optometrists and Allied Health.
Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties – is important for small businesses to bounce back from the pandemic. Given their many competing priorities and lack of dedicated health and safety staff, resources that can be adapted and implemented quickly are especially critical for small businesses during this time. Tools to support a safe and sustainable return to the workplace have been created to assist with planning, including a Readiness Assessment, Small Business Continuity Planning Checklist, a sample COVID-19 Response & Recovery Policy and an Inspection Checklist for Joint Health and Safety Committees.
Small businesses looking to improve occupational health and safety by developing programs to reduce the risk of workplace hazards – including COVID-19 – are encouraged to check out the Health and Safety Excellence program. WSIB launched their Health and Safety Excellence program in 2020 which, upon successful completion, can lead to rebates on premiums and other non-financial recognition!
Thank you to the many small businesses across Ontario who make an incredible contribution to our province! We remain dedicated to supporting your health and safety needs throughout this challenging time. Visit our Small Business Resource Centre for more information and resources for small businesses.