New WorkSafe BC COVID-19 Safety Plan Requirements

As the Province of British Columbia prepares to re-open certain businesses, WorkSafe BC has outlined that employers resuming operations must develop a “COVID-19 Safety Plan” and have established a new guide to assist employers.

WorkSafe BC has outlined that a COVID-19 Safety Plan should consider the following:

  1. Assessment of the risk at the workplace in order to identify the risk of transmission. This includes looking at where people congregate and what equipment and surfaces employees and others may come into contact with.
  2. Implementing measures to reduce the risk of transmission, including physical distancing measures, limiting the number of people at a worksite, and cleaning and hand washing protocols.
  3. Developing policies to manage the workplace including outlining self-isolation requirements prescribed by the provincial health officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control.
  4. Developing communication plans and training to ensure that everyone in the workplace knows how to keep themselves safe while at work.
  5. Monitoring the workplace and developing updates to the plan as needed.
  6. Assessing and addressing risks from resuming operations, including whether staff will require training and/or time to refresh skills and whether changes to operational procedure and use of equipment need to be made.

To further assist in the development of a COVID-19 Safety Plan, WorkSafe BC has published “Preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace: A guide for employers” (the “Guide”), which sets out three key areas that employers should consider as employees begin to return to work:

  1. identifying exposure hazards and developing measures to control exposure;
  2. controlling the number of people on site; and
  3. prohibiting workers who are sick and those returning from outside of Canada from attending attend at work.

Employers are required to involve frontline workers, joint health and safety committees, and supervisors in identifying protocols for their workplace. While a formal COVID-19 Safety Plan does not need to be implemented prior to commencing operations, employers are expected to develop one while protecting the safety of workers. WorkSafe BC will not be reviewing or approving plans for employers, but in accordance with an order made by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on May 14, 2020, the COVID-19 Safety Plan must be posted at the worksite, and on the employer’s website if applicable. Furthermore, during a WorkSafe BC inspection, employers may be asked questions about their COVID-19 Safety Plan, or may be required to show a copy of the plan to a WorkSafe BC officer.

Employers intending to re-open their operations should commence engaging with their employees and joint health and safety committees to begin developing their own COVID-19 Safety Plan which is suited to their operations.