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Health professions

In earlier stages of the pandemic, WorkSafeBC developed industry-specific protocols to provide employers with information and support on how to develop effective COVID-19 safety plans in their environment.

Following the provincial health officer’s announcement of an order requiring employers to re-activate their COVID 19 Safety Plans, we are re-posting these industry-specific protocols. Employers are advised that this information should be considered in combination with guidance from public health as well as the particular circumstances of their workplace to determine which protocols should be included in their COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Employers are advised to review the COVID-19 Safety Plan template for information about how to develop and implement effective policies, and may refer to these industry pages as a reference in that process.

Protocols for health professions

Who these protocols apply to: These protocols provide guidance to regulated health professions in community based clinic settings, as well as non-regulated health occupations such as kinesiologists, registered respiratory therapists, and polysomnography technologists. Those professions covered under the Health Professions Act may have additional obligations around clinical care prescribed by their professional college. Links to applicable professional colleges are provided below. 

Employers may also wish to refer to resources for other health care settings.

  • Ensure adequate hand washing facilities are available, and provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers approved by Health Canada (DIN or NPN number).
  • Encourage staff and clients to practice hand hygiene upon entering and exiting the clinic.
  • Provide staff training to ensure safe handling and effective application of cleaning products.
  • Work remotely whenever possible.
  • Hold staff meetings virtually through use of teleconference or online meeting technology.
  • Where in-person meetings are required, ensure staff members are positioned at least 2 metres apart.
  • If work in the office/clinic is required, consider staggering start times or developing alternating schedules to reduce the number of people in the workplace at a given time.
  • To minimize the number of co-workers that staff are interacting with, consider creating teams or groupings of workers and scheduling them to regularly work together.
  • Prioritize the work that needs to occur at the workplace for you to offer your services.
  • Arrange staff rooms and break rooms to adhere to physical distancing guidelines.
  • Consider staggered break times to reduce employee gathering numbers.
  • Minimize the shared use of workstations and equipment where possible.
  • Consider implementing the requirement for staff to have dedicated work clothes and shoes. Provide a place for staff to safety store their street clothes while working and change in/out of clothes to prevent cross-contamination upon entry and exit from facility.
  • Consider adjusting the general ventilation such as increasing the amount of outdoor air used by the system. Maintain the indoor air temperature and humidity at comfortable levels for building occupants.
  • For additional considerations, refer to Protocols for offices.
  • Consider how occupancy limits may be used to manage areas of crowding and congestion in the workplace. Occupancy limits may be established for the workplace as a whole, as well as for areas within the workplace such as break rooms, meeting rooms, change rooms, washrooms, and elevators.
  • In order to accommodate physical distancing, appointment times may need to be staggered.
  • When speaking with clients during scheduling and appointment reminders, ask clients to consider:
    • Attending appointments alone where possible, and not bring friends or children.
  • Consider emailing the client any forms that need to be filled out so clients can complete them prior to arriving at the clinic.
  • Clinics with a website should consider posting information on modifications made to the location and appointment visit procedures.
  • Post signage at the entrance of the clinic and within the clinic to assist with communicating expectations, such as hand hygiene, physical distancing, and respiratory etiquette.
  • Consider how occupancy limits may be used to manage areas of crowding and congestion in the workplace. Occupancy limits may be established for the workplace as a whole, as well as for areas within the workplace such as break rooms, meeting rooms, change rooms, washrooms, and elevators.
  • Consider placing lines on the floor to mark a 2 metre distance from the reception desk.
  • Consider use of a transparent barrier, such as a plexiglass shield around reception desk, when there is insufficient space to maintain 2 metre distance between staff and clients.
  • During transactions, if possible, limit the exchange of papers such as receipts.
  • Where possible, payments should be accepted through contactless methods.
  • Arrange the waiting area in a way that allows at least a 2 metre physical distance between each client. Consider removing extra chairs and coffee tables from the area to support this.
  • Remove unnecessary items and offerings such as magazines, toys, candy, and beverages. Use disposable cups or single use items where necessary.
  • Instruct clients to arrive no more than five minutes before their expected appointment.
  • Where room size or layout presents challenges to physical distancing, consider alternative approaches, such as asking clients not to enter the clinic until they receive a text message or phone call to advise that their appointment can start.

Professions covered under the Health Professions Act may have additional obligations around clinical care prescribed by their professional college. See the section below for links to those professional colleges.

  • Conduct appointments virtually where clinically appropriate.
  • Conduct a point of care assessment for risk of COVID-19 for every client interaction.
  • Where the client requires timely treatment, ensure PPE is used in accordance with BCCDC guidance.
  • When possible, the worker should position themselves at least 2 metres from the client. Where physical distancing cannot be maintained:
    • Consider the use of barriers if appropriate for the configuration of the workplace and the type of clinical services being rendered
    • Note that health professions covered under the Health Professions Act may have guidelines around personal protective equipment (PPE) from their professional college that differ from this guidance. In these cases, the guidelines issued by the professional college take precedence and must be followed.
  • Consider treating only one client at a time to minimize risks associated with moving between two or more patients.
  • Where shared treatment areas exist, ensure clients are positioned at least 2 metres apart and shared equipment is cleaned and disinfected between uses by clients.
  • Wherever possible, each employee should use their own products. If products are shared, they must be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
  • Practice effective hand hygiene after each client by washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer approved by Health Canada (DIN or NPN number).
  • Where feasible, workers should avoid sharing equipment or treatment rooms. Treatment rooms should be allocated to a single worker per shift.
  • Towels or any other items contacting a client are to be discarded or laundered between each use.
  • Change into a separate set of street clothes and footwear before leaving work.
  • Work clothing should be placed in a bag and laundered after every shift.
  • Shower immediately upon returning home after every shift.
  • Provide your staff information on the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and the signs and symptoms of the disease.
  • Provide instructions to workers on methods for maintaining physical distance, such as not greeting others by hugging or shaking hands.
  • Train your staff on changes you’ve made to work policies, practices, and procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep records of that training.
  • Workers must be trained on donning, using and doffing PPE. See information regarding use of PPE.
  • Provide up-to-date information on public health officer orders and guidance. Consider daily safety meetings with staff to disseminate any new information. Document these meetings.
  • Train your staff on how to report an exposure to COVID-19.
  • Ensure a process is in place for employees to report concerns and for employers to address them, and that worker reps or joint health and safety committees are in place where required.
  • Keep training records for staff. Examples of training records may include:
    • Donning, using, and doffing personal protective equipment
    • Training on safe work procedures
    • N95 respirator fit testing (where applicable)

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 and 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.