COVID-19 Safety Plans: What BCGEU members need to know
As you are aware, the B.C. government has announced timelines for services and businesses to re-open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether your workplace is re-opening now, or has been open throughout the pandemic, your employer – like all employers in B.C. – is required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan that meets government and WorkSafeBC requirements and to have the plan available upon inspection.
In addition to having a safety plan, your employer should:
- Develop the safety plan in consultation with workers and your workplace's Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) committee or worker representatives;
- Make the safety plan readily available to workers;
- Ensure workers are trained and know how to keep themselves safe;
- Ensure supervisors are trained;
- Ensure supervisors are monitoring the workplace to confirm policies and procedures are being followed.
If these things are not being done in your workplace, or you have concerns about how they're being done, you should:
- Immediately notify your supervisor and your health and safety representatives (either your union's OHS department or your local BCGEU area office). Doing so is both a right and a responsibility.
- Consider invoking your right to refuse unsafe work.
More about COVID-19 Safety Plans
By order of B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer, all employers must develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan. The purpose of the Safety Plan is to minimize the risk of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
WorkSafeBC has developed detailed guidance and templates to help employers assess the risk of exposure to the virus, and put in place effective measures to protect workers. These materials are also a good resource to understand the best practices you should be seeing implemented in your workplace.
At a minimum, COVID-19 Safety Plans should include the following:
- Measures to allow workers to maintain a physical distance of least two metres between one another and between clients/ customers
- Policies to ensure that workers or clients (where possible) that are ill or required to self-isolate are not allowed in the workplace
- Enhanced workplace cleaning, especially high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces like light switches and door knobs
- Easy access to facilities and adequate time for workers to wash their hands frequently
- Consideration of allowing workers to work remotely where possible
- "Engineering controls" – like plexi-glass barriers or other changes to the physical workspace to facilitate physical distancing, and to separate workers and/or clients where distancing is not possible
- "Administrative controls" – like rotating or staggered schedules, restrictions on the number clients, or sharing documents electronically to facilitate physical distancing and reduce contact with potentially contaminated surfaces
- Where physical distancing is not possible, provision for appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, eye protection, gloves and/or gowns.
- Updated protocols for Occupational First Aid Attendants (OFAAs)
- A training plan for all staff on the Safety Plan and the measures identified in the Safety Plan