COVID-19 | Meeting the Challenge
Just as we were getting excited to see governments across Canada removing COVID-19 restrictions, in walks the DELTA variant and the 4th wave. It’s clear, we may be collectively done with COVID-19 but COVID-19 is not done with us. Throughout this roller coaster ride of COVID-19, Valard has chosen a path of caution.
Government Restrictions & OHS Legislation
Even when governments pulled the rug on all restrictions, Valard did not relent. We dug deep, stayed the path of caution, and maintained all our COVID-19 restrictions. We did this because Valard was quick to recognize a division between what governments are doing in terms of lifting COVID-19 restrictions for the public and what the OHS legislation says an employer can do. This means, just because a province may lift restrictions, it does not mean an employer can lift restrictions for their individual work environment. For an employer to determine what restrictions can be removed, the OHS Legislation states that an employer must perform a hazard assessment regarding the risk of COVID-19 in their workforce/work environment and apply appropriate controls. To do this, Valard considers the following general factors:
- Any orders of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and/or local regional restrictions that are applicable to workplaces in that region.
- Active cases or symptomatic workers at your work site.
- Active cases in the region and COVID-19 positivity rates.
- Hospitalization rates and deaths related to COVID-19 in a region.
- Known COVID-19 outbreaks in a region.
- R-value reproduction rates in the region.
- Presence of persons with health vulnerabilities.
- Type and duration of interactions with other workers or the public.
- Physical distancing at the workplace.
- Type of work or activities performed.
- How other hazards and controls at the work site might affect COVID-19 controls.
- Other practices as required, like specific stakeholder issues.
- Number of vaccinated workers.
Determining how many employees are vaccinated
The only data Valard was missing from the list above, is the “Number of vaccinated workers”. As most of you likely know, the vaccination rate is a key indicator all government policy makers are using to determine whether COVID-19 restrictions can be removed. More specifically, a general vaccination rate released by the government (e.g. Federal, Provincial, or municipal government) does not mean that same vaccination rate can be applied to our specific work environment. This is the key information gap between what the government is doing to control COVID-19 and what an employer can do. As such, Valard has implemented a Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccine/Immunity Disclosure Policy across all our operations. Further, in specific operations/projects and as required by clients, Valard is taking immediate steps to implement a Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.
The purpose for collecting this information is to form an accurate employee COVID-19 vaccination/immunity rate estimate to assist in making future decisions in relation to COVID-19 protocols.
To support this new Policy, Valard created the following website, “KickCOVID.Valard.com”. This is Valard’s website where workers can voluntarily disclose their vaccination status and/or if they have contracted COVID-19 previously, review the “Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccine/Immunity Disclosure Policy” and receive information on Valard’s COVID-19 Vaccine Lottery. Like many governments, Valard is incentivizing workers to disclose their vaccination status through a lottery, where workers can win prizes, valued at a total of over $25,000.
Valard has a low tolerance for COVID-19 within our operations
Whether governments choose to open or slam back restrictions, it does not matter. Valard must be true to our approach and that approach is maintaining an extremely low tolerance for COVID-19 within our operations. This approach has consistently worked to Valard’s advantage. While other organizations suffered wave after wave of COVID-19 outbreaks, with major portions of their workforce being sick or considered close contacts and requiring isolation, Valard was able to keep our operations going at full steam. This resilience has allowed Valard workers to stay healthy.
Like many of our clients, Valard would rather over-react now than seem flat-footed later. This approach has worked so well throughout the pandemic, we do not feel it is time to change it now.
As we say at Valard, we started this COVID-19 journey together and together we will Kick COVID!!
How can the Valard Group help on your next project?
Reach out to our Business Development Team to find out!
Keith Sones is always ready to have a conversation about what the Valard Group has to offer.