Measures, Controls, Protocols
Am I required to limit the number of customers and workers in my workplace or in spaces such as lunchrooms?
It is anticipated that, beginning in Step 3, employers are not required to limit the number of customers and workers in their workplace as part of ongoing communicable disease prevention measures. In cases of elevated risk, a medical health officer or the provincial health officer may direct employers in a specific region, industry, or workplace to implement occupancy limits.
Are workers or members of the public required to wear masks in the workplace?
As B.C. moves through the Restart plan, Public Health will provide guidance on the use of masks for both workplaces and public spaces. Employers are advised to follow the direction of Public Health with respect to the use of masks. This may include guidance, requirements, or recommendations for both workers and members of the public.
Employers may choose to implement mask policies for workers and/or members of the public that exceed the requirements of Public Health.
Can I take my barriers down?
It is anticipated that, beginning in Step 3, barriers are no longer required in workplaces as part of ongoing communicable disease prevention measures. However, the provincial health officer has issued a statement recommending that employers maintain some existing COVID-19 protocols that do not negatively impact business operations, so if employers have existing barriers in place that are not interfering with operations, they are advised to keep these in place for the time being.
Can I remove the directional arrows from my workplace?
The provincial health officer has issued a statement recommending that employers maintain some existing COVID-19 protocols that do not negatively impact business operations. If directional arrows are effective in managing areas of congestion in your workplace, and if they do not negatively impact business operations, it is recommended that you keep these in place until this recommendation from the PHO is revised or removed.
How can I manage ventilation in a building that I don’t own?
Employers should discuss the ventilation system in their building with property managers or owners to ensure that it is properly maintained and functioning appropriately. Employers can also take other measures to improve air circulation, including opening windows where possible. Learn more by reading COVID-19 frequently asked questions: General ventilation and air circulation.
Can I require a worker to be vaccinated as a condition of employment?
No, but employers should support workers to be vaccinated for vaccine-preventable conditions if they are able to do so. Under provincial law, workers are entitled up to three hours of paid leave to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Are there industry specific protocols available for communicable disease prevention?
Communicable disease prevention is based on basic principles for maintaining worker health and reducing the risks to workers in all workplaces from communicable disease. More information is provided in Communicable disease prevention: A guide for employers.
Do I need to keep some of the existing protocols from my COVID-19 Safety Plan?
Some of the fundamental elements of communicable disease prevention are similar to the measures employers and workers have been following during the pandemic, including:
- Not coming to work if you are sick
- Healthy hand hygiene practices, including hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes
- Maintaining a clean work environment
- Ensuring adequate ventilation
- Supporting employees in receiving vaccinations for vaccine-preventable conditions to the extent that you are able
It is anticipated that, beginning in Step 3, other protocols, like distancing and barriers, will no longer be required. However, for the time being during the transition period, the provincial health officer has issued a statement recommending that employers maintain some of their current protocols, specifically those that do not negatively impact business operations.
There may also be instances where, based on direction from Public Health, employers may need to re-introduce additional safety measures if there’s an elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission in their workplace or community.
Transitioning to a Communicable Disease Prevention
Do I need to maintain a COVID 19 Safety Plan?
No, beginning with Step 3 of BC’s Restart, employers will no longer be required to maintain a COVID-19 Safety Plan and will instead transition to communicable disease prevention. This involves focusing on basic risk reduction principles to reduce the risk of workplace transmission of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.
Do I need to develop a written communicable disease plan, and does this need to be posted at my workplace like the COVID-19 Safety Plan was?
Employers are expected to take reasonable steps to manage health and safety in their workplace, including preventing communicable disease transmission. Other than in specific instances where Exposure Control Plans are required to control the transmission of communicable disease, such as health care, your plan does not need to be written, posted, or approved by WorkSafeBC. Employers may refer to Communicable disease prevention: A guide for employers for steps they can take to effectively manage communicable disease.
What can I expect from a WorkSafeBC inspection for communicable disease prevention?
During an inspection, employers may be asked to demonstrate that they have practices in place to prevent communicable disease transmission in their workplace, and that they are following any orders, guidance, or recommendations from their regional health authority or the provincial health officer that applies to their workplace.
Is moving away from a COVID-19 Safety Plan safe? Are workers at risk?
COVID-19 Safety Plans were necessary due to the elevated risk of community transmission of COVID-19, and the need to reduce the risk of transmission to workers and the public. Now that COVID-19 is better managed through vaccination, a COVID-19 Safety Plan will no longer be required beginning with Step 3 of BC’s Restart.
Employers will need to remain vigilant in keeping their workplaces healthy and safe because COVID-19 and other communicable diseases will still circulate. Employers will need to maintain the fundamental measures to reduce the risk of communicable disease transmission in their workplace, and monitor Public Health guidance in the event of elevated risk in their region, location, industry, or workplace.
Responding to Periods of Elevated Risk
How will I know if there is an elevated risk of COVID-19 in my workplace or community?
Employers are required to monitor and review communicable disease-related information issued by their regional medical health officer or the provincial health officer related to their industry, region, or workplace.
What do I do if there is a situation of elevated COVID-19 risk in my workplace or community?
During a period of elevated risk, the medical health officer or provincial health officer will provide information and guidance about the risk and how employers can reduce it. The measures that employers will need to implement will depend on the type of disease and the methods of transmission.