Agency encourages employers to involve workers in safety planning
WorkSafeBC is helping out employers in preparing to reactivate their COVID-19 safety plans following the Provincial Health Officer’s order that COVID-19 safety plans will be required by all employers currently operating in B.C.
To this end, the agency is posting COVID-19 safety plan resources online, including sector-specific protocols, checklists, planning templates, education and training materials, signage, and other tools. These resources are available at worksafebc.com.
“Fortunately, employers in B.C. are experienced with COVID-19 safety plans and they now need to reactivate their plan by reviewing and updating it for the current environment,” said Al Johnson, Head of Prevention Services at WorkSafeBC.
WorkSafeBC’s COVID-19 Safety Plan template has also been updated to allow for the consideration of elements such as symptom management, rapid testing and vaccinations.
COVID-19 safety plans also benefit when employers involve workers in its development and implementation, according to the agency.
“We encourage employers to involve their workers as much as possible when updating their safety plan, which can then be applied by workers throughout the workplace,” said Johnson.
Last month, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) launched two new courses to help employers and employees prepare for a safe return to the workplace as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Workers and employers with questions or who require additional assistance in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission at their workplace can also call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line at 1.888.621.7233 to speak directly with a prevention officer.
Earlier in the pandemic, employers were asked to create and implement detailed COVID-19 safety plans. Those plans were replaced by a more general focus on communicable disease prevention on July 1, 2021 as the province began to reopen.
On Jan. 7, 2022, the PHO stated that workplaces are required to reinstate those site-specific, prescriptive COVID-19 safety plans to address the elevated risk currently facing B.C. from the Omicron variant.
Currently, WorkSafeBC is asking for stakeholder feedback on its 2022–24 Policy Workplans concerning compensation and occupational disease, assessment and occupational health and safety (OHS). The organization’s board of directors has the mandate to make legally binding policy, and submissions are being accepted until Jan. 14, 2022.
One of the things that COVID has shown is that injury prevention and safety can be relatively simple, according to a previous report.
"It relies upon the will of people to do it; of people to behave, and of policy makers and leaders to make it very easy to behave in that way,” said Dr. Ian Pike, director, B.C. Injury Research and Prevention Unit.