As the third wave of BC’s COVID-19 pandemic rages on, provincial authorities continue to grapple with how to curtail rising caseloads in the province.
Although COVID-19 Safety Plans have been required for workplaces for the better part of a year, BC’s workplaces continue to be a source of transmission. In addition to recently increased powers to order workplaces to close, on May 2, 2021, the Provincial Health Officer updated workplace post-secondary institution safety requirements. The order does not have an expiration date.
These latest requirements for workplaces confirm an employer’s obligation to review existing COVID-19 Safety Plans to ensure that established plans adequately protect workers from the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace and are consistent with WorkSafeBC requirements. Among other things, the order provides that Safety Plans must include:
- measures to prevent workers from crowding together or congregating in indoor common areas; and
- a requirement that a worker in an indoor common area must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth, subject to certain exceptions outlined in the order.
Employees should work from home where reasonable. Employers must strongly encourage workers to work from their private residence, if possible, given the nature of the work involved, and provide their workers with the necessary work-related support to do so, unless there is a preference on the part of the employer or the worker for the worker to work at the workplace.
Where workers come to work, the order provides that employers must also have processes in place to support workers in carrying out a daily health check before working in a workplace. A worker who has not carried out and passed the daily health check must not attend work.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and employers must stay abreast of changing conditions. Workplace health and safety measures should be regularly updated for efficacy and compliance with provincial requirements.
We will continue to monitor and provide updates as soon as they become available. The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving with new measures being adopted or modified at both the federal and provincial level.