WorkSafeBC is increasing workplace inspections to review COVID-19 safety plans.
During a recent COVID-19 update on CBC radio, I heard B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix thank WorkSafeBC for supporting public health orders. WorkSafeBC has visited thousands of workplaces since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to support employers with their health and safety planning, and to ensure their COVID-19 Safety Plan is up to date and in line with Provincial Health Office guidelines.
In order to keep everyone healthy and safe, WorkSafeBC’s Prevention team developed a COVID-19 exposure control plan.
“The goal of the plan is to enable all prevention officers to do their work safely and in accordance with the strongest protocols,” says WorkSafeBC occupational hygiene officer, Sanjesh Roop. He adds that the biggest adjustments to their usual practice includes the implementation of physical distancing, wearing masks, and educating employers on better management and safety controls of workspaces.
Risk assessment is a prominent part of the plan
Sanjesh says that to safely assess risk, officers try to plan ahead. “One way to do that is to assess the level of risk before visiting a jobsite.” He says that if it’s possible to observe the site from their vehicle, or from a safe distance, officers will do that before initiating an inspection. That way they can proactively gauge where to safely conduct the inspection.
He also says that employers will often receive a phone call from a prevention officer prior to an in-person inspection. Officers will ask questions like “What control measures do you have in place?” and “Do you have a COVID-19 Safety Plan?” That conversation can help determine the level of risk for exposure to COVID-19. WorkSafeBC outlines more information about inspections and consultations during the pandemic on their website.
Shifting officers to COVID-19 duties
Kelly Mean is an occupational safety officer who usually inspects high-risk industries like manufacturing. But when we spoke in July, she was providing much-needed support for COVID-19 safety to different businesses. She and two other prevention officers from the Surrey office visited local clothing stores, delis, coffee shops, restaurants, hair stylists, dentists, and other businesses that opened during Phase 2 of B.C.’s Restart Plan. (Read more in my post, Employers do their part to keep workers safe from COVID-19).
It’s important that employers revisit their COVID-19 Safety Plan to make sure that it’s still effective and functioning properly. WorkSafeBC’s guide Reviewing and updating your COVID-19 safety plan: A guide for employers has checklists that can help employers in this process.
Workers and employers with questions or concerns about workplace health and safety related to COVID-19 can call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line at 604.276.3100 in the Lower Mainland (toll-free within Canada at 1.888.621.SAFE).