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PHO orders: Expedited workplace closures

On April 11, 2021, an order of the provincial health officer (PHO) delegated powers of the Public Health Act to WorkSafeBC prevention officers. This means that, effective April 12, 2021, WorkSafeBC prevention officers can serve a closure order on an employer with COVID-19 transmission when directed by a medical health officer. The closure order will be for 10 days or longer.

In the case of complex workplaces (e.g., large construction sites), a closure may be restricted to parts of the workplace where transmission has occurred.

What you need to know

Why are WorkSafeBC prevention officers being given this authority?

WorkSafeBC is working in partnership with public health officials to provide support, as required, during a period of rising COVID-19 case numbers.

What are the powers being delegated to WorkSafeBC?

WorkSafeBC’s role is well defined and narrow in the order. The powers delegated to WorkSafeBC prevention officers are limited to serving closure notices to employers, when directed to do so by a medical health officer. WorkSafeBC has no role in deciding which workplaces will be served with a closure order.

WorkSafeBC officers will determine, through discussions with the employer, whether any individuals will be permitted to remain at the workplace for the purposes of safety or security, or to implement COVID-19 safety measures.

This delegation of powers to WorkSafeBC under the PHO order has no expiration date.

What support will WorkSafeBC provide to help employers open safely?

WorkSafeBC encourages all employers to stay vigilant and continue to revisit their existing COVID-19 Safety Plan as conditions change, and that includes employers who have experienced COVID-19 transmission in their workplace.

When WorkSafeBC prevention officers deliver a closure order to affected workplaces, they will engage the employer to help them understand their need to review their COVID-19 safety plan and make any necessary changes during the closure period. WorkSafeBC will be available to provide advice to the employer during this time, if requested.

Then, once the workplace has re-opened, WorkSafeBC will conduct a COVID-19 safety inspection to review the employer’s COVID-19 Safety Plan and ensure the employer is effectively implementing measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

For more information, please see Reviewing and updating your COVID-19 safety plan: A guide for employers.

Where can I see who has been issued a closure order?

Each health authority posts workplace closures at the links below.

Where can I learn more?

See the full PHO order delegating powers of the Public Health Act to WorkSafeBC prevention officers.

Fraser Health has also shared Information for employers and employees, with additional questions and answers on closure orders that you may find helpful.