As we roll into Phase 2 of BC’s Restart Plan many employers in BC are looking to open their doors again and bring staff back to the workplace. Before doing so, employers should make sure they are aware of, and have a plan for, how to meet new health and safety requirements that have been put in place to address the risk of COVID-19.
This month, we will briefly outline some of these requirements and show you some resources where you can find out more.
Before allowing employees to return to the workplace, employers are required to take a number of steps to protect their employees. These steps include reviewing the new health and safety guidelines, assessing the risks in their workplace, developing policies, communications plans, training, and physical measures to reduce the risks, and monitoring and updating these as needed. These policies and plans must be developed with the participation of frontline workers, joint health and safety committees, and supervisors.
Employers must also develop a formal COVID-19 Safety Plan. This plan does not need to be put in place before beginning operations but must be developed promptly and worker safety must be protected in the interim. WorkSafeBC does not need to review or approve the plans, (PDF) but as ordered by Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the plan must be posted in the workplace and on the business’s website (if it has one).
For some guidance on developing a plan, check out WorkSafeBC’s COVID-19 and returning to safe operation page.
The Returning to Safe Operation FAQ’s is also worth a look, it answers questions like:
- What are the consequences of reopening without a COVID-19 safety plan in place?
- What requirements should be placed on workers entering the workplace?
- Should I consider health monitoring, such as temperature checking, for my workers?
- Do workers need to wear masks/gloves to protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19?
- Are employers required to notify WorkSafeBC and to conduct incident investigations when they become aware that a worker has COVID-19?
WorkSafeBC has also provided industry-specific protocols provided for: arts and cultural facilities, child care, education (K-12), gyms and fitness centres, health professions, in-person counselling, offices, parks, personal services, real estate, restaurants, cafés, and pubs, and retail.