What employers should do
If you are an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure a healthy and safe workplace.
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. If a formal plan is not already in place prior to operation, you are expected to develop it while protecting the safety of your workers.
To help you develop your plan, the pages in this section provide information and resources on keeping workers safe in industries that have been providing essential services since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. We will continue to update these pages, but you can also refer to COVID-19 and returning to safe operation for additional information, including a template for a COVID-19 Safety Plan.
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.
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. Below are some additional steps to take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
You may also wish to review our industry information pages for preventative measures to protect workers in specific industries from COVID-19.
Assess whether workers should be at work
The first step is for employers to understand what workers should be at work. If practicable, employers should:
- Prioritize the work that needs to take place at the workplace to help your business operate as close to normal under the circumstances.
- Consider having workers work remotely (e.g., work at home).
The provincial health officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control have issued the following guidance around self-isolation, which must be reflected in your policies:
- Anyone who has had symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 10 days must self-isolate at home; symptoms include fever, chills, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, and new muscle aches or headache.
- Anyone under the direction of the provincial health officer to self-isolate must follow those instructions.
- Anyone who has arrived from outside of Canada, or who is a contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
Workers who have been exposed to anyone confirmed to have COVID-19, or to anyone with possible symptoms of COVID-19, should call HealthLink BC at 811 for an assessment and to determine any necessary next steps.
Working from home
Many health and safety roles, rights, and responsibilities are just as applicable for at-home workers as they are for more traditional workplaces. Learn more about health and safety responsibilities when working from home.
Resources to support health and safety while working from home are available for employers and workers. See the announcement for more information.
Put physical distancing and other preventative measures in place
If it is necessary for workers to come to work, employers should take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The priority should be to take steps to ensure physical distancing is practiced in your workplace, including:
- If practicable, reconfiguring the workplace to maintain appropriate distance between workers.
- Limiting worker participation in in-person gatherings and encouraging practices like teleconferences as an alternative.
- Limiting worker travel.
Additional measures will depend on the workplace, but would generally include:
- Educating workers on health and safety measures to prevent transmission of infectious disease.
- Increase workplace cleaning, provide the necessary supplies, and reinforce personal hygiene messages to workers.
- Don't take your work with you - Poster and video to promote hand washing as the best way to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
- OFAA protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic: A guide for employers and occupational first aid attendants - Information for employers and occupational first aid attendants on how to safely treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information
The information on this page is based on current recommendations and may change. For the latest guidance, please see the health information from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, the latest news from the government of British Columbia, and the latest orders from the Office of the provincial health officer.
The BC Centre for Disease Control has collected COVID-19 information for Employers & Business, where you will find information for essential businesses.
The B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service serves as a single point of contact for businesses throughout the province looking for information on resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.