September 16, 2020

Best Practices for Returning to Work: Small Business and COVID-19

Small businesses owners are adaptable, and with the unpredictable nature of the novel coronavirus, flexibility is so important. To help you with your small business COVID-19 risk management plan, we have gathered some best practices for businesses to minimize your risk of spreading infection and help protect workers and customers from COVID-19.

In addition to these best practices, ensure you also follow the specific guidelines from your municipality and province.

Workplace Cleanliness

  • Provide hand sanitizer for customers to use at entrances
  • Consider limiting the number of people onto your premises at one time
  • Add plexi-shields at key contact points for staff and customers
  • Add floor decals to ensure physical distancing
  • Clean high-touch areas at your business frequently
  • increase sanitation protocols inside and outside the premises

Protecting Staff

  • Create clear workplace policies to ensure people with cold or flu symptoms do not come to work
  • Implement sick day policies which allow staff to be off or to work safely from home when they are ill or have symptoms of a cold or flu
  • Provide work from home options, when possible, to reduce contact intensity. When it’s not an option, consider measures such as flexible shifts and staggered shifts
  • Focus on work from home options for higher-risk employees including those over the age of 60 and those with underlying medical conditions
  • Limit worker travel; opt for virtual meetings, and teleconferences
  • Consider educating staff on addressing tension and anxiety around working during the pandemic. This would also be helpful in cases where groups may be gathering or if people need to wait with customers prior to entering the premises
  • Increase workplace cleaning, provide the necessary supplies, and reinforce personal hygiene messages to workers
  • Enhance online and phone services where applicable
  • If possible, reconfigure the workplace to maintain appropriate distance between staff members

Queueing Customers

Whether you are asking customers to queue inside or outside, a good small business COVID-19 risk management plan includes procedures for customer line ups.

Inside – Business owners can purchase decals to mark 2 metre distances in line ups, alternatively, a durable tape can do the task so long as it adheres to the floor smoothly and does not create a tripping hazard. Many businesses are also making use of retail displays to create barriers for customers to move through a checkout line.

Outside — If the number of customers is limited within your store, they must queue outside while they wait. To make this space safe and appealing to customers, ensure the area is clearly marked and cleaned to remove debris. Using floor decals or tape can help customers maintain 2 metre distance outside as well.

  • Consider training and staffing someone to manage the lineup while your small business is open. This person can ensure the limit for people in the store is followed and direct people to queue in the correct area
  • Review the layout of the area where customers will be standing in line and consider if there are any hazards where someone could trip and fall
    • Cracks or lifts in concrete sidewalk should be repaired, or at the very least marked clearly
    • Ensure road curbs are marked as required by your municipality
    • Clear brush, sticks, and leaves from planters

Check out these websites for more information on small business COVID-19 risk management practices.


WCB Alberta

WCB Saskatchewan

WCB Manitoba




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