Phase 2 of the Government of British Columbia’s plan to re-open the province’s economy and businesses commenced May 19 and ended June 23. Phase 3 commenced June 24, 2020.
Businesses that decide to open or remain open must adhere to all public health orders issued by the Ministry of Health and follow guidelines from both the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC in order to comply with their legal obligations. This includes developing and implementing a COVID-19 Safety Plan to assess the risk of exposure at the workplace and ensure that sufficient measures are put in place to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.
WorkSafeBC has a 6-step template for developing a Safety Plan that can be found here.
Employers are required to assess each area of the workplace to determine where the risk of transmission is present. Supervisors and front-line workers should be involved in assessing risks, determining measures to minimize risks and developing policies. The Employer must implement measures to minimize the risk of transmission starting with ensuring 2 meters of physical distancing can be maintained by, for example, putting in place limits on the number of persons in the workplace and in each area of the workplace and creating pods. Administrative controls such as cleaning and hygiene protocols should be implemented with documented monitoring of the protocols. When physical distancing cannot be maintained then engineering controls such as plexiglass barriers should be installed. Where other measures are not possible or insufficient then the use of non-medical masks is appropriate. The COVID-19 Safety Plan should also include policies about not attending at work if an employee is symptomatic and self-isolation in certain circumstances. Such policies should be compliant with the BC Centre for Disease Control recommendations that are contained in the WorkSafeBC guidelines.
Businesses and employers are required to post a copy of their COVID-19 Safety Plan at their workplace and on their website, so that it is readily available for review by workers and other persons who may attend at the workplace. Additionally, businesses will need to provide a copy of their COVID-19 Safety Plan if requested by a health officer or WorkSafeBC officer.
Businesses should review the general guidelines for developing a Safety Plan as well as the industry specific guidelines which have been updated since the original restrictions were put in place. Industry specific guidelines are located as follows:
Arts and Cultural Facilites: WorkSafeBC Guidelines
Farms and Farm Workers: Provincial Guidelines
Gyms and Fitness Centres: WorkSafeBC Guidelines
Health Professionals: WorkSafeBC Guidelines
Hotel Sector: Provincial Guidelines
In-Person Counselling: WorkSafeBC Guidelines
Natural Resources Sector Work Camps: Provincial Guidelines
Offices: WorkSafeBC Guidelines
Parks: WorkSafeBC Guidelines
Personal Services: WorkSafeBC Guidelines
Real Estate: WorkSafeBC Guidelines
Restaurants, Cafes, and Pubs: WorkSafeBC Guidelines
A full list of orders, notices and guidelines from the Provincial Health Officer can be found here. The lawyers at Pulver Crawford Munroe are also available to assist with COVID-19 Safety planning.