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Manufacturing and COVID-19 safety

WorkSafeBC is working with workers, employers, and industry associations to ensure manufacturing workplaces remain healthy and safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Prevention officers are providing information to workers and employers through worksite inspections focusing on the controls that the employer can use to limit exposure, including maintaining distance between workers and ensuring adequate hygiene facilities. We are continuing to engage in inspection, consultation, and education activities within the manufacturing sector to ensure everyone in the workplace are fulfilling their obligations.

WorkSafeBC’s Preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace provides general information that all employers may use to assess the risks and controls in their workplace.

Controlling the risk of COVID-19 exposure

Employers must take all necessary precautions to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission and illness to themselves, workers, and others at the workplace. This includes:

  • Implementing a policy requiring anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 such as sore throat, fever, sneezing, or coughing to self-isolate at home for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, as well as anyone advised by public health to self-isolate
  • Maintaining a distance of two metres between workers wherever possible by revising work schedules, organizing work tasks, posting occupancy limits on elevators, and limiting the number of workers at one time in break locations
  • Workplaces can implement a number of measures to ensure that the appropriate number of people are in each area of a worksite by reducing in-person meetings and other gatherings, and by maintaining an up-to-date list of employees at the workplace
  • Providing adequate hand-washing facilities on site for all workers and ensuring their location is visible and easily accessed
  • Provide and maintain adequate washroom facilities as required by Regulation 4.85. WorkSafeBC has guidance around the minimum number of required washrooms, washroom facilities where no plumbing is available, and maintenance of washroom facilities
  • Regularly cleaning all common areas and surfaces, including washrooms, shared offices, common tables, desks, light switches and door handles

The employer must communicate policies and protocols in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission through training, signage, and site orientation as appropriate.

Resolving concerns about unsafe work

Workers have the right to refuse work if they believe it presents an undue hazard.

An undue hazard is an “unwarranted, inappropriate, excessive, or disproportionate” risk, above and beyond the potential exposure a general member of the public would face through regular, day-to-day activity.

In these circumstances, the worker must follow steps within their workplace to resolve the issue. The worker can begin by reporting the undue hazard to their employer for investigation and the employer then needs to consider the refusal on a case-by-case basis, depending on the situation.

If the matter is not resolved, the worker and the supervisor or employer must contact WorkSafeBC. A prevention officer will then investigate and take steps to find a workable solution.

For more information, see Occupational Health and Safety Guideline G3.12.

For more information

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC (MSABC) is the Health and Safety Association for manufacturers and food processors in the province. Visit their website for COVID-19 updates for manufacturers.

The provincial health officer has provided specific guidance to manufacturing sites operating during COVID-19.

If you have a question or concern

Workers and employers with questions or concerns about workplace exposure to COVID-19 can call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line at 604.276.3100 in the Lower Mainland (toll-free within B.C. at 1.888.621.SAFE). You’ll be able to speak to a prevention officer to get answers to your questions, and if required, a prevention officer will be assigned to assess the health and safety risk at your workplace.

Note: The information on this page is based on current recommendations and may change. Content from health and safety associations and other parties is also subject to change and WorkSafeBC has not reviewed this material for the purpose of ensuring it is aligned with our guidance. For the latest guidance, visit the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control for health information and see the latest news from the government of British Columbia.