Municipalities and COVID-19 safety
These protocols provide guidance to employers in municipal worksites. These employers may also benefit from reviewing protocols developed for arts and cultural facilities, gyms and fitness centres, and 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.
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, this page provides 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 this page, 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
Employers must take all necessary precautions to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission and illness to themselves, workers, and others at the workplace.
Employers may consider some of the following advice or best practices to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:
Who should come into the workplace
- 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.
- Prioritize the work that needs to occur at the workplace for you to offer your services.
Physical distancing and other preventative measures
- Stagger start times for workers to prevent crowding at locations.
- Eliminate in-person team meetings or modify them to incorporate technology such as conference calling and online meetings.
- Modify work processes and practices to encourage physical distancing between them and customers, clients, and other workers.
- Provide instructions to workers on methods for maintaining physical distance from customers, clients, and other workers, such as not greeting others by shaking hands, or removing or modifying proof of delivery signature requirements and money collection requirements.
Cleaning and hygiene
- Ensure workers are provided with appropriate supplies, such as soap and water, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, nitrile gloves and garbage bags, and sufficient washing facilities.
- Remind staff of effective personal hygiene practices. Add signage about best practices for personal hygiene for customers who may interact with your workers.
- Remove shared items where cross-contamination is possible (e.g., shared tools, coffee and water stations and snack bins).
- Enhance cleaning and disinfecting practices in high contact areas like door and cabinet handles, keyboards, light switches, steering wheels, and communications devices.
- Incorporate end-of-shift wipe downs for all shared spaces.
Documentation and training
- Train your staff on changes you’ve made to work policies, practices, and procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic and keep records of that training.
- Ensure that workers can raise safety concerns. This may be through your joint health and safety committee.
- Whenever possible, workers should travel alone in their vehicles in order to practice physical distancing. If that is the case, employers must implement all of the necessary safeguards related to working alone or in isolation, to ensure the safety of these workers.
- Measures that may be taken to ensure appropriate distance include having workers sit one to a seat, with riders staggered to allow maximum distance between them; adjusting the number of workers transported per trip; and increasing the total number of trips needed to transport workers to a worksite. These measures may mean using larger vehicles to ensure maximum spacing or using multiple vehicles.
- If it is not possible to ensure 2 metres of distance between workers in a vehicle through these measures, the employer must consider other control measures, such as PPE where appropriate.
- Employers must also implement a process that allows for physical distancing when loading and unloading vehicles. Workers waiting for loading/unloading should maintain physical distancing while remaining safely away from traffic.
- Employers should have hand washing facilities or sanitizing stations available to workers as they enter and exit the vehicle.
- Employers must ensure that high contact surfaces within the vehicle are routinely cleaned. These include seatbelts, headrests, door handles, steering wheels, and hand holds.
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 British Columbia Municipal Safety Association is the health and safety association for municipal government employers. Visit their website for health and safety support and resources on COVID-19 issues and contact information for customized support. For most topics and work activities, municipal members have provided sharable, specific procedural materials and documents on managing COVID-19 risks.
- The Local Government Management Association has collected links to COVID-19 resources for B.C. public agencies on its website.
- The Union of BC Municipalities has collected links to COVID-19 orders and advisories for local government.
- The provincial government has provided guidance to first responders regarding self-isolation precautions related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
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.