Conducting a walk-through can identify potential COVID-19 transmission spots and determine if changes are needed to create a safer workspace.
Every workplace has its own COVID-19 challenges that call for carefully thought-out solutions. Listening to workers and observing work premises are the first steps to assess risks in your workplace. An assessment helps identify potential virus transmission spots and is also an important part of keeping your safety plan current. All employers in B.C. must keep an up-to-date COVID-19 Safety Plan posted in the workplace.
Complete a walkthrough of your workplace
Recently I spoke with Kelly Mean, a WorkSafeBC occupational safety officer, about what employers (and safety committees) should keep in mind when they walk through their workplaces to identify potential COVID-19 transmission spots.
“Look at the areas where people congregate, such as entry points, lunch rooms, shared offices, anywhere there are customers,” Kelly says. “Employers and workers know their workplaces the best. They have the most knowledge, but WorkSafeBC is glad to give advice.”
In November 2020, I spoke with Kelly about her (physically distant) visits to clothing stores, delis, coffee shops, restaurants, hair stylists, dentists, and other businesses in the Fraser Valley that opened during Phase 2 of B.C.’s Restart Plan. See more in my post, What to expect during a COVID-19 workplace inspection.
Solutions from local employers
Staff at a Kamloops restaurant reported that customers kept peering around plexiglass barriers at the cash register. Here’s how Robert Stodola, who runs the restaurant’s two locations, responded to these concerns.
“I went to my workshop and fabricated new wings with piano hinges and plexiglass to attach to the existing front screens. The added pieces provided much better protection for staff,” Robert says. “They feel much more comfortable now and customers don’t try to get around the barriers.”
Robert also took a stand against rare but upsetting incidents of customers bullying restaurant staff enforcing pandemic restrictions. Read the full story in my post, Serving up safety for restaurant workers.
At the very beginning of the pandemic I spoke with Bob Deeks, president of RDC Fine Homes in Whistler. The company designated a COVID-19 safety officer, and rescheduled shifts to reduce the number of workers on site at the same time. Read more about their solutions in my post, Improving safety for construction workers during COVID-19.
In food processing
Lisa McGuire, CEO of the BC Manufacturing Safety Alliance, described some of the issues faced by the manufacturing industry, in February 2021: “As in other manufacturing industries, food processors face space constraints on some production lines that may make physical distancing a challenge.”
Read more in my post Rolling out COVID-19 safety for workers in food processing. Also see this guidance from WorksSafeBC for employers in Meat processing.
COVID-19 information for all industries
See WorkSafeBC’s COVID-19 page — updated regularly for employers who need guidance in complying with B.C.’s provincial health orders.
Do you have any stories to tell about your experiences of working during COVID-19? Please tell us in the comments. Thank you and stay safe!