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JOHS committees must continue meeting during COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) Committees to meet and discuss COVID-19-related health and safety issues they are dealing with in their workplace.
Your union has heard that some employers are telling JOHS committees to cancel or suspend their meetings until further notice. This violates the requirements of the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) and is unacceptable. JOHS committee meetings must continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This bulletin provides information about JOHS committee requirements in your workplace. If these requirements are not being followed at your workplace, please immediately notify your supervisor, your steward and your local OHS rep.

What are the requirements of a Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) Committee?

The Workers Compensation Act (WCA) requires employers to establish a joint health and safety (JOHS) committee in all workplaces with 20 or more employees. In smaller workplaces (9-19 employees), a single worker health and safety representative must be chosen that has essentially the same duties and functions as a joint committee. The Act also says that joint committees must meet at least once a month. Some BCGEU collective agreements include requirements for committees and representatives that go beyond the minimum requirements of the Act. 

Should JOHS committee meetings, or meetings with worker health and safety representatives, be cancelled or suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic?

No. JOHS committee meetings, or meetings with worker health and safety representatives, should not be cancelled or suspended. JOHS committees have a right to participate in the development of workplace prevention and response strategies dealing with the virus, and WorkSafeBC has confirmed that it expects JOHS committees to continue to meet in accordance with the requirements under the Act. 

If your JOHS committee meetings have been cancelled or suspended, tell your supervisor, your steward and your local OHS rep that the meetings should be restarted. If meetings remain suspended, report this to the WorkSafeBC Prevention Line at 1-888-621-7233 (1-888-621-SAFE), and email [email protected] to let us know that you have called WorkSafeBC.

What should my JOHS committee or worker representative be doing in response to COVID-19? 
JOHS committees or worker health and safety representatives should be meeting regularly and working with their employer to identify and find solutions to workplace health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. At this time, meetings may need to be held remotely for some or all participants.

Here's a few concrete things that joint committees or worker health and safety representatives can be doing during this crisis:

  • Ask questions and raise concerns about exposure to the virus at work. For ideas, the Ontario's Workers' Health and Safety Centre has a useful COVID-19 checklist, and a list of questions for JOHS committees to ask is available from CUPE. 
     
  • Participate in a walk-through assessment of the workplace and/or work process(es) to identify potential areas of increased risk and priority action.
     
  • Participate in reviewing, updating and/or developing an exposure control plan (ECP) for your workplace in light of COVID-19. 
     
  •  Participate in any assessment or evaluation of personal protective equipment (PPE).
     
  • Review your workplace's policies and procedures to ensure they are updated with the latest information on COVID-19.
     
  • Make recommendations to your employer about how to keep workers safe from COVID-19. For guidance, WorkSafeBC offers both general and industry-specific information for employers to keep workers healthy and safe during this pandemic. Practical information for workplaces is also provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Government of Canada.
     
  • Remember to consider and make recommendations protecting workers' mental health. Resources on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic are available from the B.C. government, the Canadian Mental Health Association, and the World Health Organization
     
  • Gather feedback from your coworkers about how prevention measures are working, and what their health and safety concerns are during the pandemic. 
     
  • Help to promote measures to prevent exposure to COVID-19 at your workplace.
     
  • Provide feedback on the effectiveness of control measures implemented in your workplace.
     
  • Participate in incident investigations related to COVID-19 exposure in your workplace. 

What rights do workers have to participate in their workplace's response to COVID-19?

Workers continue to have the right to participate in their workplace's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes participation of the joint health and safety committee, or the worker health and safety representative, in the development of the workplace's exposure control plan, in the investigation of symptoms related to occupational exposure, and in workplace evaluations for determining appropriate personal protective equipment.



UWU/MoveUP


Message to BCGEU members for administrative services week

In our component, we are home to many kinds of workers that do a variety of roles that all fit together. This week please join me in taking a moment to appreciate the administrative services workers in our workplaces and the contributions they make to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

We never could have imagined celebrating administrative services day in this fashion. But, here we are. 

Normally, to appreciate members local chairs and executive would be out and about- visiting worksites around B.C. to celebrate the important work you all do. But, in the name of safety and everyone's well-being, we're postponing all gatherings until it's safe to visit. Please know you are appreciated and we are thinking about you this week.

These are difficult times. I'd like to thank all BCGEU members in Component 3, Community Social Services. Those of you on the front lines are providing essential services to the most vulnerable citizens of our province, while pushing through your fears and worries. Those of you working from home that are making sure the work of the province continues to get done. B.C. couldn't function without your dedication and service to others. And the administration services workers that are the foundations of our workplaces and the glue that holds everything together. 

Once again, you've proven administrative services workers are the foundation of workplaces and the glue that holds everything together. Celebrate who you are and all you do - how you always go above and beyond the call of duty. 

The recognition you receive this week is well-earned. 

Please visit the bcgeu.ca/covid page for health and safety information about your component and email [email protected] if you have any questions. Your union is always here to help.

In solidarity,

Andrea Duncan,
Vice President, Component 3, Community Social Services



UWU/MoveUP


Updated COVID-19 information for BCGEU members in the B.C. public service

The information contained in this FAQ applies to BCGEU members who work for direct government in the B.C. public service.

Updated material is in red.


Download COVID-19 FAQ sheet here.

UWU/MoveUP


Letter to Provincial Health Officer from Community Social Services workers- COVID-19 Update

I hope that you are staying safe and healthy in this difficult time.
 
We know that you are doing the very best that you can under extremely difficult circumstances. We also know the commitment, professionalism and the care that you bring to your work in community social services and the services that you provide to your clients in workplaces and in their homes across the province.
 
We have heard from many of you about your concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). Because of this, we have consistently brought your concerns forward to the employers' association and at meetings with government officials.  More recently, we wrote directly to Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Health Officer, and asked her to ensure that workers in the community social services sector receive appropriate PPE as well as training.  You can read the letter here or it is below.
 
All workers deserve a safe workplace and we will continue to advocate on your behalf for the appropriate PPE and training to allow you to do your job safely.
 
 
In solidarity,
 
Pamela Pye,
1st Vice-Chair, Component 3
 
For current information on COVID-19 for Community Social Services members, visit https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_information_for_community_social_services_membersand for general information from the BCGEU on COVID-19, please go to our information hub at www.bcgeu.ca/covid. 
 
If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to [email protected] or, for questions related to occupational health and safety, please email [email protected]



Download the PDF of our letter to Dr. Bonnie Henry here

 



UWU/MoveUP


Component 5 Workplace Safety Measures – COVID-19 Updates

CORRECTION: The original version of this bulletin on April 8, 2020 indicated that shifts at all warehouses are now ending 15 minutes early with pay to allow time for sterilization and physical distancing at shift change. This safety measure is ONLY being done at the DELTA Distribution Centre, not the other warehouses. See this correction, and other additions, underlined in the bulletin below.


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, so does the dedication of Component 5 members to serving the public. You have raised many concerns with us about your health and safety at work, and we have advocated for changes with the employer. This bulletin details the safety measures now in place at your workplaces and important reminders for you while at work.

Please print and post in your workplace for your fellow Component 5 members.
We will continue to keep you updated.

In solidarity,
Kusam Doal, Vice President, Component 5


Workplace Safety Measures

Thanks to our collective voice, the following safety measures are now in place at your workplaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the following measures are NOT being implemented or followed at your workplace, please let us know by emailing [email protected].

Liquor Stores

  • Decals on floor to indicate social distancing
  • Suspension of empty container returns
  • Limits to number of people in store
  • Shorter store hours
  • Regular, scheduled disinfecting and cleaning performed Regular, scheduled cleaning and disinfecting of all commonly touched surfaces and high traffic areas including entrances and exits, counters and cash registers, pin pads, shopping carts and basket handles, staff common areas and equipment.
  • Installation of plexiglass barriers at clerk tills
  • Option for employees to wear gloves and/or masks as preferred
  • Discontinuation of re-usable bags
  • Increased customer signage discouraging entrance with certain symptoms

 

Cannabis Stores

  • Regular, scheduled cleaning and disinfecting of all commonly touched surfaces and high traffic areas including entrances and exits, counters and cash registers, pin pads, shopping carts and basket handles, staff common areas and equipment.
  • Plexiglass installed in ID area
  • Transitioning to self-serve model
  • Permitting customer orders by phone
  • Removal of sniff pods
  • Increased customer signage discouraging entrance with certain symptoms

Warehouses

  • Daily staff safety reminders via increased signage, TV monitors, Intercom
  • Red dots on floor, especially in core congested areas
  • Breaks split to ensure physical distancing
  • Opening of other warehouse areas to ensure employees can adhere to social distancing during breaks
  • Several staff plus contractors dedicated to cleaning floors, tables, etc.
  • Heightened cleaning and disinfecting procedures of doors and door handles, all commonly touched surfaces, staff common areas, equipment and machinery

Delta Distribution Centre 

  • All three shifts now end 15 minutes early (with pay) to allow more time for sterilization of equipment and to help with physical distancing at shift change.
  • Sanitized equipment now identified for each shift
  • Reduced or eliminated non-essential visitors including vendors, sales people and truck drivers
  • Cancelled all external meetings
  • Plexiglass barriers sourced for the shipping/receiving area to minimize close contact between staff and external drivers
  • Break times adjusted to minimize number of staff in common break areas
  • One-way pedestrian traffic routes to minimize flow into high volume areas, i.e. locker rooms
  • Reduction in functioning turn-stiles to increase distance between employees
  • Ground placards indicating physical distancing while waiting in line to enter/exit an area
  • Additional waiting/common area for staff waiting to begin shift
  • Where possible, employees are working from home

Kamloops Distribution Centre

  • Reduced or eliminated non-essential visitors including vendors, sales people and truck drivers
  • Plexiglass barriers installed in the shipping/receiving area to minimize close contact between staff
  • Break times adjusted to minimize number of staff in common break areas
  • Ground placards indicating physical distancing while waiting to enter/exit congested areas

If the above measures are NOT being implemented or followed at your workplace, please let us know by emailing [email protected]


Reminders for C5 members at work

  1. Physical distancing is NOT OPTIONAL - It is an order of the Provincial Health Officer and is to be adhered to by you, your employer and customers. If you have concerns about physical distancing adherence at your workplace, contact your steward, area office or [email protected]
  2. As per Section 3.12 of the OHS regulation, workers have the right to REFUSE UNSAFE WORK. Follow these steps to exercise this right.



Download PDF of notice here
 



UWU/MoveUP


Acknowledging the frontline workers of two health care crises

April 15, 2020 marks the fourth anniversary of the declaration of the overdose crisis as a public health emergency in British Columbia.

In a statement recognizing the date this week, Judy Darcy, B.C.’s first Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said “In this unprecedented time of two public health emergencies, we must work together to both flatten the curve and stop overdose deaths. We cannot afford to stop caring about one health-care crisis as we stare down another.”

BCGEU represents hundreds of members working on the front lines of not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but the overdose crisis. We would want to take this opportunity to recognize the incredible work of our members who are working around the clock under extraordinarily challenging and stressful circumstances: members at worksites such as RainCity Housing, Lookout Housing and Health Society, Victoria Cool Aid Society, Atira Women’s Resource Society, the mental health outreach workers working for the health authorities and so many more across B.C. Our members put themselves at risk to help keep communities safe from COVID-19 and to protect some of our province’s most vulnerable people from overdose, withdrawal or other harms. 

While we applaud the recent move our government has made on safe supply and efforts to support physical distancing and other public health measures among drug users, we urge more action to protect drug users, the homeless, and the workers who care for them like making sure the safe supply measure implemented for the duration of the pandemic become permanent, and ensuring access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line workers in mental health, homelessness and addiction services.

We echo Minister Darcy’s sentiments and appreciate her recognition of people working on the front lines of the overdose crisis: “Every single day, I am awed by the dedication, ingenuity and passion of the thousands of people on the front lines of the fentanyl-poisoning crisis in British Columbia,” says Darcy. Now, more than ever, we must recognize the hard work, sacrifices and inherent value of our members’ and how they continue to save lives each and every day through these unprecedented times. Their unwavering dedication and resilience inspire us.


Fair pay for health care workers

Your union recently learned that a salary supplement has been implemented for excluded staff (non-union managers) in the health care sector. Last Thursday, we sent a letter to the Health Employers' Association of BC (HEABC) to address these pay inequities, specifically seeking an explanation of why they have chosen to provide excluded staff with additional compensation. We have not yet had any response to our letter, but we will update members once this happens. This policy is unfair for the thousands of health care workers throughout the province, and your union sees no reason for this unfair policy to be in place.
 
This additional compensation for excluded positions, in addition to the recent news of the Nurses Bargaining Association (NBA) agreement granting employees a blanket premium for all hours worked during the month of April, further compounds the inequities health care workers are faced with. With regard to the NBA premium, your union has called on the HEABC to consider implementing premiums for the thousands of other frontline health care workers who are feeling undervalued as a result.
 
We understand and recognize the sacrifices and risks that members across the health care sector are making to help keep British Columbians safe and healthy during these difficult, uncertain times. You can count on your union to continue fighting for fair pay and safe working conditions for health care workers.



UWU/MoveUP


Right to refuse work information for supervisors at MCFD-COVID-19 Update

Right to refuse work information for supervisors at MCFD

 

This information has been provided by the B.C. Public Service Agency for BCGEU members who act as supervisors at the MCFD.

Attachment is here.



UWU/MoveUP


Component 1 members update on the most current issues around COVID-19

We continue to be very busy all around the province in Adult Custody, Youth Custody and Sheriff Services. As of today, there is still only one positive inmate case of COVID-19 and as you are aware this is at OCC. There have been many rumors going around so I hope this will help dispel some of them. 

Safety and risk assessments

We are communicating with ACD regularly to ensure measures continue to be taken to keep you safe at work, and your Union is participating in a number of COVID-19 risk assessments that relate to all your worksites. 

Component 1 is currently conducting three separate joint risk assessments for adult custody jails. Local 104 chair Brandon Cox, Local 105 chair Krissie Hayes and BCGEU OH&S staff representative Brian Campbell are working with the ACD on the following risk assessments:

  • Isolation living units for inmates who are symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19: Done. Contact your Local Chair or OHS Committee member for more information.
     
  • Force Options Training for New Recruits (Component 1 Executive does not agree to sign off on this. See below.)
     
  • Officer Safety- Physical Distancing & Person Protective Equipment (PPE) The priority is making sure officers have access to masks and that plexiglass barriers are put in place on Officers desks and other areas around the jails.

The Provincial Risk Assessment that was conducted jointly on the Force Options Training was not able to be signed off by the union because unfortunately, for this particular provincial risk assessment the BCGEU does not agree that the mitigating steps recommended in the RA are in line with the Provincial Health Officer's (PHO) orders on physical distancing set forth to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As well, we have concerns that should someone be hurt during the training and require medical treatment; they will unnecessarily add pressure to an already strained health care system while the public health emergency continues.

For these reasons, we recommend the Force Options training be postponed until the PHO relaxes the orders on physical distancing.

The Officer Safety Joint Provincial Risk Assessment is ongoing this week. It is your Component Executive's opinion that officers should be allowed to wear masks while working on the front lines of all ten of our provincial jails. This is about protecting our officers but also the inmate population from getting infected and spreading the virus further. We say that the employer should provide masks, 3M 1/2 face respirators for all staff, as well as plexiglass barriers as required. Please see this article regarding the use of masks in federal prisons: https://www.citynews1130.com/2020/04/06/guards-inmates-at-federal-prisons-set-to-receive-masks/

Priority Testing for Corrections

The Centre for Disease Control gave corrections the same designation as health care workers where we now get priority testing for COVID-19 and receive the results back within 24 to 48 hours.

Doctors Notes & STO2's

Currently no STO2 is required to begin a STIIP claim if for valid COVID-19 related reasons. However, the employer may ask for a doctor's certificate as you claim progresses. Further general information can be found at the BCGEU website page dedicated to COVID-19.

Danger Pay

Our union continues to push for danger pay for all Public Service essential service workers including First Responders Correctional Officers & Sheriffs who are going to work every day putting their lives and the lives of their families at risk working in very dangerous conditions inside our maximum and medium security correctional centres. We believe both Corrections & Sheriffs should receive fair compensation for danger pay because of the onerous conditions we have to work and having to respond to constant emergencies that puts us a constant risk to exposure. Please see the BCGEU's letter to the government in this regard: https://www.bcgeu.ca/bcgeu_letter_to_the_psa_covid-19_update

Currently public service employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19, whether sick or otherwise required to self-isolate, are entitled to receive STIIP benefits of 75% pay. Our union is also advocating on your behalf to be able to receive full pay when told to self-isolate or when you become infected with COVID-19. Again, we believe both Corrections & Sheriffs should receive fair compensation for danger pay because of the onerous conditions we have to work and having to respond to constant emergencies that puts us a constant risk to exposure.

COVID-19 related absences and attendance records

ACD will not be considering COVID-19 related absences for the purposes of attendance management programs and EPDPs.

Sheriff redeployment opportunity
In an effort to boost its response to COVID-19, the on April 7, 2020 the Government announced an opportunity for Public Service workers to redeploy to YVR as Processing Officers and Supervisors, and as Quarantine Officers.

Childcare for essential workers


A reminder that the government has developed a 0-5-year-old child care program for essential workers. Please check the BC Government website for further information: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020CFD0017-000599. Your union is currently waiting to hear what supports are available for school age children as that is also impacting our members. We will inform members as soon as we have an answer.



UWU/MoveUP


Component 5 workplace safety measures – COVID-19 Update, April 8

Workplace safety measures: COVID-19 update


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, so does the dedication of Component 5 members to serving the public. You have raised many concerns with us about your health and safety at work, and we have advocated for changes with the employer. This bulletin details the safety measures now in place at your workplaces and important reminders for you while at work.

Please print and post in your workplace for your fellow Component 5 members.


We will continue to keep you updated.

In solidarity,
Kusam Doal, Vice President, Component 5


Workplace Safety Measures

Thanks to our collective voice, the following safety measures are now in place at your workplaces during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Liquor Stores

 

  • Decals on floor to indicate social distancing
  • Suspension of empty container returns
  • Limits to number of people in store
  • Shorter store hours
  • Regular, scheduled disinfecting and cleaning performed
  • Installation of plexiglass barriers at clerk tills
  • Option for employees to wear gloves and/or masks as preferred
  • Discontinuation of re-usable bags
  • Increased customer signage discouraging entrance with certain symptoms

 

Cannabis Stores

  • Plexiglass installed in ID area
  • Transitioning to self-serve model
  • Permitting customer orders by phone
  • Removal of sniff pods
  • Increased customer signage discouraging entrance with certain symptoms

Warehouses

  • Daily staff safety reminders via increased signage, TV monitors, Intercom
  • Red dots on floor, especially in core congested areas
  • Breaks split to ensure physical distancing
  • Opening of other warehouse areas to ensure employees can adhere to social distancing during breaks
  • All three shifts now end 15 minutes early (with pay) to allow more time for sterilization of equipment and to help with social distancing at shift change
  • Several staff plus contractors dedicated to cleaning floors, tables, etc.

If the above measures are NOT being implemented or followed at your workplace, please let us know by emailing [email protected]


Reminders for C5 members at work

  1. Physical distancing is NOT OPTIONAL - It is an order of the Provincial Health Officer and is to be adhered to by you, your employer and customers. If you have concerns about physical distancing adherence at your workplace, contact your steward, area office or [email protected]
  2. As per Section 3.12 of the OHS regulation, workers have the right to REFUSE UNSAFE WORK. Follow these steps to exercise this right.



Download PDF of notice here 
 



UWU/MoveUP