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Transportation and COVID-19 safety

These protocols provide guidance to employers in the transportation industry. These employers may also benefit from reviewing protocols developed for transit, office spaces, food service, and retail. Employers must also ensure they are abiding by any orders, notices, or guidance issued by the provincial health officer, and the appropriate health authority, which are relevant to their workplace.

For more information from WorkSafeBC, please see:

COVID-19 safety plans

Every employer is required to have a COVID-19 safety plan that assesses the risk of exposure at their workplace and implements measures to keep their workers safe.

To help you develop your plan, this page provides information and resources on keeping workers safe in industries that have been providing essential services since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to updating this page, we have provided additional information on developing a safety plan at COVID-19 and returning to safe operation, including a template for a COVID-19 Safety Plan, and in our COVID-19 Safety Plan OHS Guideline, which includes information on the level of detail required and using supporting documentation.

WorkSafeBC will be reviewing plans of individual employers during their inspections of your workplace. Please be reminded that in accordance with the order of the provincial health officer, this plan must be posted at the worksite. During a WorkSafeBC inspection, we will ask employers about the steps they have taken to protect their workers and to see the plan if it has been developed. To learn more, read Inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 policies that reflect the following guidance from the provincial health officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control around self-isolation. Refer to the WorkSafeBC posters advising workers and visitors of these policies:
    • Anyone who has had symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 10 days must self-isolate at home.
    • Anyone under the direction of the provincial health officer to self-isolate must follow those instructions.
    • Anyone who has arrived from outside of Canada must self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
  • Adjusting practices to encourage physical distancing, such as having some workers (e.g., dispatch, customer service, administration) work remotely wherever possible; staggering start times for drivers to prevent crowding at terminal locations; limiting in-person meetings and other gatherings such as morning huddles or modifying them to take place in open spaces or outside; encouraging workers not to shake hands.
  • Maintaining an up-to-date list of employees at the workplace.
  • Where job tasks require groups of workers to work routinely in proximity, consider creating cohorts, or small groups of workers that work together exclusively to reduce the risk of broader transmission to other workers. If possible, stagger start and finish times and split workers into groups, keeping the same groups together in order to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Consider dispatching different groups from different locations, which will reduce the number of workers that are impacted in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of the virus.
  • Develop hygiene and cleaning policies that include removing unnecessary shared items to facilitate cleaning; enhancing cleaning and disinfecting practices for high contact areas; incorporating end-of-shift wipe downs for all shared spaces; and ensuring workers are provided with appropriate supplies, like soap and water, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.
  • Develop cleaning and disinfecting protocols for vehicles, ensuring that high contact areas are appropriately addressed. Ensure adequate time is allocated to cleaning vehicles.
  • Employers are required to provide access to washroom and hygiene facilities for anyone entering their workplace as part of their work, including delivery personnel. Workers who are stationed at remote locations need to be provided with access to an appropriate washroom and washing facilities to be able to maintain adequate hygiene. This may include mobile washrooms, soap and water, hand sanitizer, disinfectant solutions, and disinfectant wipes. Risk assessments should consider the fact that under normal circumstances, workers may have had access to facilities not directly linked to their employer, such as fast-food or retail outlets.
  • Workers tasked with cleaning must be appropriately trained, and any products used for cleaning and disinfecting must be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Modify protocols for workers and occupational first aid attendants who may have to perform first aid to fellow workers or riders during the COVID-19 pandemic. See OFAA protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic: A guide for employers and occupational first aid attendants.
  • If masks or other personal protective equipment are required by the employer’s safety plan, ensure they are used appropriately and available for use by workers at the time of their shift.
  • Ensure areas where passengers access leaflets, timetables, magazines, and newspapers from transit vehicles and vessels, public waiting areas, and walk-in-centres and shared workspaces are included in cleaning and sanitizing procedures.
  • Inform workers of the safety plans, protocols and steps that are being taken to protect them. Train them on new or adjusted protocols, and re-orient workers who have been absent from the workplace. See Best practices for orienting and training workers.
  • Where worker schedules and work locations can make it difficult to monitor and supervise workers, ensure there are effective procedures for supervising workers. See Supervising for health and safety.
  • If staff need to travel between workplaces in pool vehicles, maintain physical distance in vehicles wherever possible. Consider separate vehicles if possible. Larger vehicles may be able to accommodate physical distancing by using a seat configuration that maximizes distance between people. Consider grouping workers into small groups that travel together exclusively to reduce the risk of broader transmission.
  • Establish a mechanism for ensuring orders and guidance from the provincial health officer are communicated to passengers, including guidance around non-essential travel and travelling by public transportation if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Ensure these policies are broadly understood, posted as needed online and at locations that will help passengers understand these obligations, and provided in languages that will be understood by passengers.
  • Encourage customers to purchase fares online or at fare stations. Encourage the use credit cards and loyalty cards wherever possible and have customers scan or tap their cards and handle the card readers themselves. Encourage tap payment over pin pad use. If customers do pay with cash, establish hygiene practices that include washing or sanitizing hands after handling cash.
  • Assess occupancy limits for buildings, vehicles and other areas so that you can maintain physical distancing in these spaces. See Help prevent the spread of COVID-19: Occupancy limit.

The nature of the trucking industry makes self-distancing the highest priority for drivers. A physical distance of at least 2 metres between individuals needs to be maintained and the number of interactions must be kept to a minimum.

Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • Try to remain in the cab during collection/delivery.
  • Where possible, find alternatives to physical proof of delivery signatures or sign on the receiver’s behalf.
  • Every workplace is dealing with COVID-19 in their own way, so call ahead to find out the site’s current requirements before making deliveries, and to help the customer be ready and prepared.
  • Consider wearing nitrile gloves (instead of work gloves), depending on the task and where appropriate, when loading or unloading. Remove and dispose of them in a garbage bag immediately after you are done.
  • At truck stops, maintain physical distancing when using the facilities, and maintain self-isolation by staying in your truck when you can. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes, especially after using the washrooms, showers or the laundry.
  • At gas stations, use nitrile gloves at all times when fueling, refrain from touching your face, immediately remove and dispose of them when you’re done and clean hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres at the facility.
  • For long haul cross border drivers, ensure they understand the self-isolation rules that apply to this sector and provide adequate resources for them to be able to comply. As reported by the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) requires all persons, including commercial drivers, to wear a non-medical face covering upon entry and while travelling to their destination in Canada.
  • Increase disinfecting practices of high touch point items inside and outside the vehicle, including in-cab communication devices, air lines, landing gear handles, trailer doors, refrigeration/heater unit controls and dollies.

Related links:

Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • Adjust practices for delivering the package to a person to ensure physical distancing is maintained. For example, where possible, drop packages at the door or outside buildings and avoid contact with other people (e.g. customers).
  • Communicate that a delivery has been made by phone call, text or email and avoid touching any surfaces (e.g., door bell).
  • Adjust practices for proof of delivery so that, where possible, in-person signatures can be avoided and online confirmation of receipt of package can be used instead.
  • Where access is restricted or other concerns prevent the package from being dropped off, consider calling ahead and having the customer wait in the lobby or building entrance to safely collect the package.
  • Where the use of loading equipment such as a pallet jack or forklift is required to load or unload a large item, the driver should be encouraged to stay in the vehicle. If that is not possible, communication should occur from a safe distance to ensure physical distancing.

Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • During curbside collections, reduce physical interactions with the public wherever possible.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including face/eye masks, where there is danger of being exposed to unknown airborne particles and puncture-resistant gloves.
  • Where possible, avoid handling waste that is un-bagged.
  • Modify collection practices to reduce manual waste handling, including at sorting and disposal facilities.
  • If unsure of the contents of the bin/container, seek clarification and advice before collecting.
  • Given the nature of work, personal hygiene is critical for workers in the waste collection/recycling industry. Where regular handwashing is not possible, consider providing workers with hand hygiene supplies and sanitation kits, including hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, cleaning spray, and paper towels.
  • Where drivers and swampers regularly need to work in groups of two or more, consider altering shift schedules to routinely group the same workers together for the entire shift and keep the same group allocated to the same vehicle where possible.

Related links:

Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • Find methods to limit physical interactions with customers, such as using drop boxes, safe work zones (e.g., taping ground to ensure 2 metres of distance between each person), and electronic communication wherever possible. Other options could include closing waiting rooms and adopting drop off and collection zones or, if possible, offering a valet pick-up and delivery service.
  • Implement effective sanitization procedures, sanitizing vehicles surfaces before and after servicing.
  • For tow operators, when responding to a distressed call, stay in the vehicle and engage in the conversation over the phone (vs. in-person), or through a closed or slightly open window to the operator while maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres. Unless absolutely necessary, advise customers to find alternative transportation besides riding in the cab of the tow truck. If the operator has to check the customer’s identification/member card, have the member hold the card up but avoid handling it. If the tow operator needs to look more closely, have the driver place it down, step back and then the tow operator step forward and look.
  • Consider dedicated working areas for maintenance personnel such as mechanics so that physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Ensure shared tools and equipment are covered in the cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Related links:

Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • Frequently clean forklifts and other mobile equipment using disinfectant wipes.
  • Clean and disinfect internal shipping areas, thoroughly cleaning anything that is touched. That includes but is not limited to desks, handrails, dock equipment, doors, windows, electronic devices, and scanners.
  • Limit access to warehouse environments and require drivers to remain in vehicles wherever possible.
  • Increase physical distancing by modifying shift patterns to minimize the number of workers on site at the same time and consider staggering start and finish times to help reduce worker contact in confined spaces, like changing rooms and lunch rooms.
  • Provide nitrile gloves for workers who could be exposed to the virus when loading/unloading freight, especially those who may be working the load by hand (hand-bombing).
  • Provide adequate disinfecting and sanitization facilities to ensure regular hand sanitization can be maintained.

The nature of this sector can make it difficult to exercise adequate physical distancing, particularly in smaller vehicles. Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • As much as possible, avoid physical contact with passengers. Eliminate the use of the front passenger seat, where passenger numbers allow for it, to maintain physical distancing.
  • Keep tissues and wipes within reach of passengers and immediately dispose of them after use in a garbage bag within reach.
  • Provide hand sanitizer for passengers to use at the start of the ride.
  • Use hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes after you handle cash or cards.
  • Increase signage at taxi-ranks advising passengers of basic hygiene etiquette.
  • Employers need to provide drivers with an adequate supply of hand sanitizers and alcohol-based disinfectant wipes.
  • Ensure seats, door handles, and windows are wiped down between fares.
  • Consider asking passengers to handle their own personal bags and belongings during pick-up and drop-off, if possible.
  • Where the size and design of the vehicle allows, consider installing a physical barrier (e.g., plexiglass or temporary vinyl) between the front seats and the back seats, if possible.
  • Where passenger signatures may be required, consider developing policies and technology options to limit or eliminate close contact and the sharing of items such as pens and electronic signature pads between drivers and passengers.
  • As part of the booking process, consider reminding passengers about the preventive measures being taken to reduce risk to drivers and passengers.
  • Consider minimizing shared rides so passengers are not travelling with individuals unknown to them.

Related links:

Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • Before the crew is dispatched and again upon arrival at the move site, ask questions about the health of anyone who is or who has been on the property, specifically with regards to COVID-19. Ensure there are clear guidelines for what to do in cases where this could present a risk.
  • Replace in-home surveys with virtual surveys.
  • Add disinfectant wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizers to the trucks.
  • Perform a deep clean on all trucks between moves.
  • Refrain from shaking hands and have minimal customer contact. Encourage customers not to be present at the move location unless the move requires their input.
  • Restrict access to facilities and keep an accurate record of anyone visiting the site. Eliminate non-essential access if possible.
  • For self-storage type facilities, where customer access is permitted, consider implementing occupancy limits to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Consider and address the risks of offering a full packing service. Where this service must be offered, measures may include asking the customer to perform a deep clean of all the high-touch points in the building, prior to the arrival of the moving crew, or asking the moving crew to carry out this cleaning before commencing with the move.

Related links:

  • Review the protocols related to office spaces for the management of office locations.
  • Develop policies to ensure that the following people are not allowed into a vehicle where a driving lesson is taking place: anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, people who are a close contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, anyone who has travelled out of the country within the last 14 days, and anyone otherwise under order from public health to self-isolate.
    • Pre-screen students at the time of booking
    • Remind students at the time of booking to reschedule if any of the above circumstances develop before the lesson
    • Remind students at the time of the lesson
  • At the start and end of the lesson, consider having any conversations with the student outside of the vehicle, where physical distancing can be more easily maintained.
  • Ask students to wash or sanitize their hands before entering the vehicle, where possible. Provide the student with hand sanitizer before they enter the vehicle.
  • Ensure that physical distancing is maintained wherever possible throughout the lesson, including any required pre-trip inspections or for demonstrations of pre-trip activities or tasks.
  • Where the size and design of the vehicle allows, consider using a partial barrier (plexiglass or vinyl) between the driver and the instructor to reduce the risk of transmission. Ensure that any barriers installed do not interfere with the driver’s ability to see or access controls, and have been installed in a manner that does not create unintended hazards for the driver or the instructor.
  • Open windows whenever possible to increase fresh air ventilation while parked and driving, and ensure that the fresh air intake is open so that the air in the car is not being recirculated.
  • For services where physical distancing cannot be maintained and other control measures such as barriers cannot be used, masks should be worn to reduce the risk of transmission. Ensure that masks are selected and cared for appropriately and that workers are using masks correctly. Learners should be encouraged to wear masks to protect workers.
  • Inform learners if masks will be required for their lesson at the time they book the appointment. Post signage at the workplace or company website of this requirement.
  • Provide masks for learners who have not brought their own.
  • Develop a cleaning and disinfecting procedure. Ensure high-touch surfaces such as the steering wheel, seat belts, driving controls, gear lever, windows, keys, seats and door handles are cleaned and disinfected between lessons. Consider allowing more time between lessons to ensure adequate time for cleaning the vehicle. Ensure adequate supplies are provided in the vehicle, and that workers are trained on safe use of any cleaning product and how to safely store and dispose of used supplies.
  • Provide a means of disposal within the vehicle for cleaning supplies, wipes, and used masks.

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” hazard. For COVID-19, an “undue hazard” would be one where a worker’s job role places them at increased risk of exposure and adequate controls are not in place to protect them from that exposure.

If the matter is not resolved, the worker and the supervisor or employer must contact WorkSafeBC. Once that occurs, a prevention officer will consult with workplace parties to determine whether there is an undue hazard and issue orders if necessary.

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

For more information

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.

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.