Manufacturing and COVID-19 safety
These protocols provide guidance to employers in the manufacturing industry. These employers may also benefit from reviewing protocols developed for office spaces. Employers must also ensure they are abiding by any orders, notices, or guidance issued by the provincial health officer, and the appropriate health authority, that are relevant to their workplace. Employers must also comply with applicable provincial or federal licensing requirements for the bodies that they are licensed under.
For more information from WorkSafeBC, please see:
- Preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace: a guide that employers may use to assess the risks and controls in their workplace.
- COVID-19 health and safety information: general information for all employers and workers about staying safe at work
- Frequently asked questions: answers to questions from British Columbian workers and employers on how to maintain a healthy and safe workplace
COVID-19 safety plans
Every employer is required to have a COVID-19 safety plan that assesses the risk of exposure at their workplace and implements measures to keep their workers safe. If a formal plan is not already in place prior to operation, you are expected to develop it while protecting the safety of your workers.
To help you develop your plan, the pages in this section provide information and resources on keeping workers safe in industries that have been providing essential services since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. We will continue to update these pages, but you can also refer to COVID-19 and returning to safe operation for additional information, including a template for a COVID-19 Safety Plan.
WorkSafeBC will be reviewing plans of individual employers during their inspections of your workplace. Please be reminded that in accordance with the order of the provincial health officer, this plan must be posted at the worksite. During a WorkSafeBC inspection, we will ask employers about the steps they have taken to protect their workers and to see the plan if it has been developed. To learn more, read Inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Controlling the risk of COVID-19 exposure – All manufacturing sectors
Employers must take all necessary precautions to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission and illness to themselves, workers, and others at the workplace. This includes:
- Implementing policies that reflect the following guidance from the provincial health officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control around self-isolation:
- Anyone who has had symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 10 days must self-isolate at home; symptoms include fever, chills, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, and new muscle aches or headache.
- Anyone under the direction of the provincial health officer to self-isolate must follow those instructions.
- Anyone who has arrived from outside of Canada, or who is a contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
- Maintaining a distance of two metres between workers wherever possible by revising work schedules, organizing work tasks, posting occupancy limits on elevators, and limiting the number of workers at one time in break locations
- Workplaces can implement a number of measures to ensure that the appropriate number of people are in each area of a worksite by reducing in-person meetings and other gatherings, and by maintaining an up-to-date list of employees at the workplace
- Providing adequate hand-washing facilities on site for all workers and ensuring their location is visible and easily accessed
- Provide and maintain adequate washroom facilities as required by Regulation 4.85. WorkSafeBC has guidance around the minimum number of required washrooms, washroom facilities where no plumbing is available, and maintenance of washroom facilities
- Regularly cleaning all common areas and surfaces, including washrooms, shared offices, common tables, desks, light switches and door handles
The employer must communicate policies and protocols in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission through training, signage, and site orientation as appropriate.
Controlling the risk of COVID-19 exposure – Meat processing sector
See additional guidelines and resources for employers in poultry processing, meat processing (beef, pork, and other meats), and shore-based seafood processing, including limited processing.
Resolving concerns about unsafe work
Workers have the right to refuse work if they believe it presents an undue hazard.
An undue hazard is an “unwarranted, inappropriate, excessive, or disproportionate” hazard. For COVID-19, an “undue hazard” would be one where a worker’s job role places them at increased risk of exposure and adequate controls are not in place to protect them from that exposure.
If the matter is not resolved, the worker and the supervisor or employer must contact WorkSafeBC. Once that occurs, a prevention officer will consult with workplace parties to determine whether there is an undue hazard and issue orders if necessary.
For more information, see Occupational Health and Safety Guideline G3.12.
For more information
Note: The information on this page is based on current recommendations and may change. Content from health and safety associations and other parties is also subject to change and WorkSafeBC has not reviewed this material for the purpose of ensuring it is aligned with our guidance. For the latest guidance, visit the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control for health information and see the latest news from the government of British Columbia.
The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC (MSABC) is the Health and Safety Association for manufacturers and food processors in the province. Visit their website for COVID-19 updates for manufacturers.
The provincial health officer has provided specific guidance to manufacturing sites operating during COVID-19.
If you have a question or concern
Workers and employers with questions or concerns about workplace exposure to COVID-19 can call WorkSafeBC’s Health and Safety Information line at 604.276.3100 in the Lower Mainland (toll-free within B.C. at 1.888.621.SAFE). You’ll be able to speak to a prevention officer to get answers to your questions, and if required, a prevention officer will be assigned to assess the health and safety risk at your workplace.