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Health and safety

WorkSafeBC is working to support the direction of public health agencies for slowing the progression of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) by helping workplaces to take appropriate preventative measures. Please read the information on this website to learn more about how to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

What’s new (updated Feb. 5): Public health orders

The provincial health officer (PHO) has issued an order to all employers that includes requirements for a number of sectors including sports and recreation, gyms and fitness centres, accommodation, faith-based organizations, performing arts, movie theatres, retail and vending markets, and party buses and limousines.

This order applies to all areas of the province and remains in place until otherwise advised by the PHO.

On December 17, the PHO issued a Workplace Safety order that includes a number of requirements for all employers, including:

  • Employers must review their COVID-19 Safety Plan to ensure that the plan adequately protects workers from the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace and is consistent with WorkSafeBC requirements. Our Reviewing and updating your COVID-19 safety plan: A guide for employers resource may be helpful for employers in reviewing their plans.
  • Employers must ensure that workers are prohibited from entering the workplace if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had a potential exposure through a health check.
  • Employers must encourage workers to work from their private residence wherever possible, unless there is a preference on the part of the worker or the employer for the worker to work at the workplace.
  • COVID-19 Safety Plans must include measures to prevent workers from congregating or crowding in indoor common areas, such as elevators, lobbies, hallways, stairwells, corridors, bathrooms, meeting rooms, break rooms, and kitchens.

On December 29, 2020, the PHO issued an Industrial Camps Restart order that applies to a number of industrial projects. Affected employers are advised that they must review and comply with the requirements of this order.

Responsibilities

Employers, workers, owners, prime contractors, and other people at the workplace all have a responsibility to prevent exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their workers, and all other workers at their workplace. They are responsible for completing and posting the COVID-19 Safety Plan and to train and educate everyone at the workplace of the contents of that plan. Employers are also responsible for having a system in place to identify the hazards of COVID-19, control the risk, and monitor the effectiveness of the controls. Learn more about developing a COVID-19 safety plan.

Workers are responsible for taking reasonable care to protect their own health and safety and the health and safety of other people at workplace. In the context of COVID-19, this means workers are responsible for their own personal self-care, which includes frequent hand washing and staying home when sick. Workers are also responsible for reporting unsafe conditions to their employer, and following the procedures put in place by the employer to control the risks associated with COVID-19.

The owner or the prime contractor is responsible for coordinating health and safety at a workplace where workers of two or more employers are working at the same time. This includes doing everything that can reasonably be done to establish and maintain a system or process to ensure compliance with WorkSafeBC laws and regulations generally, including ensuring an effective system to control the risks associated with COVID-19. In order to ensure that the risk of transmission of COVID-19 at a multiple-employer workplace is minimized, the prime contractor is expected to review and assess the COVID-19 safety plans of each employer at the workplace, and to develop and implement an overall plan to coordinate workplace safety and ensure compliance. A prime contractor who is an employer must also develop their own COVID-19 safety plan.

What about contractors? A person you contract with might be a worker, employer or independent operator, depending on the contract between you, and how that person has set up their business. If you are not sure whether a person you contract with is your worker or is required to be registered as an employer, visit Who does and doesn't need coverage. 

Submitting and managing reviews

If you disagree with a decision made by WorkSafeBC on a claim, assessment, or health and safety enforcement matter, you can request a review of the decision from the Review Division. We are continuing to receive requests for review and are completing as many decisions as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak. Learn more about Submitting and managing reviews during the COVID-19 outbreak.