Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise in BC. With the increase in numbers, workplaces face new public health orders as well as reminders to keep up with the old ones.
Expedited Workplace Closures
Effective April 12, 2021, WorkSafeBC prevention officers have the power to issue closure orders to businesses where workers test positive for COVID-19 and confirmed transmission has occurred in the work environment. The closure order will be in effect for a minimum of 10 days, but may be extended by the health authority’s medical health officer on a case-by-case basis. For larger workplaces, the closure may be restricted to the location or locations where transmission has occurred.
Finally, it’s worth noting that exceptions will be made for workplaces such as:
- police stations;
- fire halls;
- health care facilities;
- ferry system and public transportation; and
- distribution hubs of necessary goods such as food and medicine.
Reminder of Mandatory COVID-19 Safety Plan
The recent rise in cases also serves as an important reminder for employers to revisit their mandatory COVID-19 Safety Plan (“Safety Plan”).The Safety Plan must outline the business’ policies, guidelines, and procedures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, including daily employee screening requirements. Although employers are not required to submit these plans for approval, the Safety Plan must be posted in the workplace and on the business’ website (if there is one).
In addition to the Safety Plan, employers have an ongoing obligation to:
- remind employees to monitor themselves daily and to always stay home if they have symptoms;
- make every effort to provide work from home options; and
- ensure that all workers and customers maintain an appropriate physical distance – extra care should be taken in small office spaces, break rooms and kitchens.
COVID-19 continues to have a serious impact on both employees and employers, and we realize that changes to government programs and legislation can be difficult to keep up with. If you have any questions or would like advice about COVID-19 and how it affects your business, employees or employment, please contact Ryley Mennie, Lou Poskitt, or Connor Levy from our Workplace Law Group.