Under a new health order announced on January 7, 2022, employers in BC are required to re-activate COVID-19 safety plans (previously mandated between June 2020 and June 2021) following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
In July 2021 as BC entered Step 3 of its Restart Plan, employers were instructed to transition from COVID-19 safety plans to communicable disease plans. Although the two share similar purposes, COVID-19 safety plans must be in writing and include more stringent, targeted protocols and procedures to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 at workplaces. Such measures can include Plexiglas barriers, minimizing direct contact between staff and encouraging remote working. Communicable disease plans, in comparison, are broader in scope and include any illness caused by an infectious agent (i.e. bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc.) that can be transmitted from person to person.
Those with COVID-19 safety plans previously developed should review them to ensure they align with current provincial health guidance and orders. WorkSafeBC has published an updated planning tool to help businesses comply which includes the following six steps:
- Assess the risks at your workplace
- Implement protocols to reduce the risks
- Develop policies
- Develop communication plans and training
- Monitor your workplace and update your plans as necessary
- Assess and address risks from resuming operations