Yesterday afternoon, BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced new rules for workplaces that serve as a reminder to all of us to continue to be strict about our COVID-19 prevention protocols.
Dr. Henry’s team and WorkSafeBC are still putting together the detailed regulations, but here is what we know:
- Under the new rules, WorkSafeBC prevention officers now have the power to close any business or worksite with a known COVID-19 outbreak.
- Outbreaks will likely be defined as three or more co-workers presumed to have contracted COVID-19 at work.
- Closures will last at least 10 days, but could be more.
- In larger workplaces, like construction sites, the closure may only affect a specific team or area, but that is at the discretion of WorkSafeBC.
- Workplaces with outbreaks will be asked by WorkSafeBC prevention officers for their COVID-19 safety plans (here is WorkSafeBC’s guide to those plans).
- Once reopened, WorkSafeBC will inspect the site to ensure COVID-19 protocols are being followed.
Construction has fared very well thus far in the pandemic and stands out as example for how other industries can operate safely in our new COVID-19 world. Of the nearly 110,000 British Columbians who have contracted COVID-19, only 31 cases have been traced by WorkSafeBC to transmission on a construction site.
This is a testament to the hard work and leadership in safety shown by all the men and women working in construction. With the threat of new COVID-19 variants and the potential for site closures, it’s important that we all continue the commitment to working safely that has been demonstrated so strongly by the construction industry over the past 12 months.
For WorkSafeBC’s specific guidance to construction sites, click HERE.