Information on this page is subject to change and was last updated July 10, 2020.
Physical distancing is one of the priority safety controls to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It means making changes in your everyday routines in order to minimize close contact with others.
In the workplace, practice physical distancing by keeping approximately two metres (six feet) away from one another whenever possible.
Establishing and posting occupancy limits for rooms or areas is an important control measure to promote physical distancing and minimize interactions with others.
Most rooms/areas on campus where units or researchers will require a maximum occupancy as part of their safety plan.
Determining the maximum occupancy for a space is based on the principle of at least five square metres of unencumbered floor area per person. A sample method for calculating a maximum occupancy can be found here. OSEM is working with Facilities to determine occupancy limits, which will be posted on this website as soon as they are available. Please contact Facilities if you need assistance obtaining the total floor area of a location.
Common areas in buildings such as public washrooms, lounges, kitchens and elevators should also have an occupancy limit posted. This will be undertaken by OSEM as part of the Building and Common Areas Plan.
Physical distancing tips
- Revise work schedules or implement work-from-home arrangements for some staff to limit the number of workers on site at a given time.
- Re-arrange or plan work tasks in such a way that workers are not required to work in proximity to one another, or to customers/clients.
- Reduce in-person meetings and other gatherings; instead hold meetings by teleconference, video conference or email.
- Limit or prohibit visitors, or reduce the number of customers who may enter your work area.
- Use tape to mark off areas where workers can and cannot walk, or to mark off areas where workers may walk only in one direction (such as down an aisle or narrow corridor).
- Minimize sharing of office space, work vehicles and tools/equipment.
- Use machines or other equipment to assist with job tasks usually performed by two workers, such as lifting or carrying heavy objects.
- Schedule rotating coffee and meal breaks to allow for two metres distance between workers in all break rooms, and do not share food or drink (no buffets).
- Involve your joint health and safety committee (or worker representative) in brainstorming physical distancing measures that could work in the spaces they work in.
Do I have to maintain two metres distance from my co-workers at all times?
- Yes, as much as possible.
- Your workplace and the activities you regularly undertake should be rearranged as much as possible to maintain physical distancing of two metres.
- Your workplace common areas should also be adjusted (either by spacing or indicating occupancy limits) so that physical distancing can be maintained during your breaks.
- However, even with all the workplace rearrangements there may still be a few situations where you may be in close proximity to another worker. If these infrequent situations are short, they represent a low risk of potential transmission.
What if I have to work within two metres of a co-worker or student for longer periods?
If you have to be in close proximity with other workers or customers for long periods of time, then you should look further at whether the task can be redesigned, work stations moved apart, or whether barriers should be installed. Consider the use of a non-medical mask as a last option.