May 6, 2020, the Government of BC released BC’s Restart Plan, with timelines on the re-opening of the economy and the repealing of certain COVID-19 restrictions.
What the New Normal Means for Employers and Public Institutions
The Provincial Health Officer (PHO) identified the risk of transmission at busy workplaces and other institutions as a direct function of two variables: the number of contacts (the number of people present at the same time) and the contact intensity (the type of contact ie. close or distant and the length of contact ie. brief or prolonged). These are factors that we can rate as low, medium and high risks.
Based on these factors, steps can be taken to reduce the risk, including:
- Physical distancing measures – measures to reduce the density of people
- Engineering controls – physical barriers (like plexiglass at checkouts) or increased ventilation
- Administrative controls – clear rules and guidelines
- Personal protective equipment
These modifications and controls, combined with the following measures, can reduce the risk of transmission.
- Create clear workplace policies that ensure people with cold or flu symptoms do not come to work
- Implement sick day policies that allow people to be off or work safely from home when they are ill or have symptoms of a cold or flu
- Provide work from home options, when possible, to reduce contact intensity. When it’s not an option, consider measures such as staggered shifts and virtual meetings as much as possible
- Implement strategies that reduce the number and intensity of contacts – from greater use of non-medical masks to more checkouts and increased shopping hours
- Clean “high-touch” areas in workplaces and retail outlets frequently and provide hand sanitizer at entrances
- Focus on higher-risk employees including those over the age of 60 and those with underlying medical conditions – from more flexible hours, to work from home options and workspace accommodation
Additional measures specific to various organizational settings are being developed. More will be created as various sectors are engaged and industry or sector wide norms are adopted and required.
For employers and retailers seeking detailed information, please refer to the BC COVID-19 Go-Forward Management Strategy and the BC COVID-19 Go-Forward Management Checklist, as well as resources from WorkSafeBC.
For Construction Site-specific guidelines, refer to HAVAN.ca’s COVID-19 worksite-resources page.