WorkSafeBC Home

Transportation and COVID-19 safety

These protocols provide guidance to employers in the transportation industry. These employers may also benefit from reviewing protocols developed for office spaces, food service, and retail. Employers must also ensure they are abiding by any orders, notices, or guidance issued by the provincial health officer, and the appropriate health authority, which are relevant to their workplace.

For more information from WorkSafeBC, please see:

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 – All transportation 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. Refer to the WorkSafeBC posters advising workers and visitors of these policies:
    • 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.
  • Adjusting practices to encourage physical distancing, such as having some workers (e.g., dispatch, customer service, administration) work remotely wherever possible; staggering start times for drivers to prevent crowding at terminal locations; limiting in-person meetings and other gatherings such as morning huddles or modifying them to take place in open spaces or outside; encouraging workers not to shake hands.
  • Maintaining an up-to-date list of employees at the workplace.
  • Where job tasks require groups of workers to work routinely in proximity, consider creating cohorts, or small groups of workers that work together exclusively to reduce the risk of broader transmission to other workers. If possible, stagger start and finish times and split workers into groups, keeping the same groups together in order to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Consider dispatching different groups from different locations, which will reduce the number of workers that are impacted in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of the virus.
  • Develop hygiene and cleaning policies that include removing unnecessary shared items to facilitate cleaning; enhancing cleaning and disinfecting practices for high contact areas; incorporating end-of-shift wipe downs for all shared spaces; and ensuring workers are provided with appropriate supplies, like soap and water, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.
  • Develop cleaning and disinfecting protocols for vehicles, ensuring that high contact areas are appropriately addressed. Ensure adequate time is allocated to cleaning vehicles.
  • Employers are required to provide access to washroom and hygiene facilities for anyone entering their workplace as part of their work, including delivery personnel. Workers who are stationed at remote locations need to be provided with access to an appropriate washroom and washing facilities to be able to maintain adequate hygiene. This may include mobile washrooms, soap and water, hand sanitizer, disinfectant solutions, and disinfectant wipes. Risk assessments should consider the fact that under normal circumstances, workers may have had access to facilities not directly linked to their employer, such as fast-food or retail outlets.
  • Workers tasked with cleaning must be appropriately trained, and any products used for cleaning and disinfecting must be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Modify protocols for workers and occupational first aid attendants who may have to perform first aid to fellow workers or riders during the COVID-19 pandemic. See OFAA protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic: A guide for employers and occupational first aid attendants.
  • If masks or other personal protective equipment are required by the employer’s safety plan, ensure they are used appropriately and available for use by workers at the time of their shift.
  • Ensure areas where passengers access leaflets, timetables, magazines, and newspapers from transit vehicles and vessels, public waiting areas, and walk-in-centres and shared workspaces are included in cleaning and sanitizing procedures.
  • Inform workers of the safety plans, protocols and steps that are being taken to protect them. Train them on new or adjusted protocols, and re-orient workers who have been absent from the workplace. See Best practices for orienting and training workers.
  • Where worker schedules and work locations can make it difficult to monitor and supervise workers, ensure there are effective procedures for supervising workers. See Supervising for health and safety.
  • If staff need to travel between workplaces in pool vehicles, maintain physical distance in vehicles wherever possible. Consider separate vehicles if possible. Larger vehicles may be able to accommodate physical distancing by using a seat configuration that maximizes distance between people. Consider grouping workers into small groups that travel together exclusively to reduce the risk of broader transmission.
  • Establish a mechanism for ensuring orders and guidance from the provincial health officer are communicated to passengers, including guidance around non-essential travel and travelling by public transportation if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Ensure these policies are broadly understood, posted as needed online and at locations that will help passengers understand these obligations, and provided in languages that will be understood by passengers.
  • Encourage customers to purchase fares online or at fare stations. Encourage the use credit cards and loyalty cards wherever possible and have customers scan or tap their cards and handle the card readers themselves. Encourage tap payment over pin pad use. If customers do pay with cash, establish hygiene practices that include washing or sanitizing hands after handling cash.
  • Assess occupancy limits for buildings, vehicles and other areas so that you can maintain physical distancing in these spaces. See Help prevent the spread of COVID-19: Occupancy limit.

Controlling the risk of COVID-19 exposure – Transit sector

  • Consider adjustments to trip schedules to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Consider increasing number of vehicles in circulation to enable less riders on each.
  • Consider assigning driver to a specific vehicle and avoiding drivers being designated multiple vehicles.
  • Consider providing access to hand-sanitizer for passengers to use before boarding the vehicle.
  • Where available and operationally possible, use rear doors for boarding and exiting. Where the front door is to be used for boarding, consider encouraging passenger to exit only though the rear door, reducing any potential crowding at the front of the vehicle. Consider using floor markings or window markings to direct passenger movement and create buffer zones around the operator.
  • Consider installing a physical barrier between the driver and passengers (plexiglass, vinyl or other non-porous material that can be cleaned), or modify existing protection barriers to offer increased protection to the operator. Ensure that any barriers installed do not interfere with the driver’s ability to see or access controls, and have been installed in a manner that does not create unintended hazards.
  • Promote extra space between passengers and operators, through the use of signs and posters not only on vehicles but at bus stops, transit loops and stations as well. Use floor markings as a means of maintaining physical distancing between the operator and the customer (e.g., red line).
  • Block out seats that are closest to the operator (e.g., jump seat) to allow physical distancing to be maintained. This may be done by using tape to create a barrier or by covering the seat. The appropriate signage should also be used.
  • Enhance cleaning protocols when transferring a vehicle from one worker to another. Ensure to clean high touch point areas like door handles, keys, steering wheels, switches, and in-vehicle communication devices. Cleaning protocols should be done both at the beginning of a driver’s shift and that the end.
  • Provide operators with hand hygiene supplies and sanitation kits including hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, cleaning spray and paper towels so that surfaces commonly touched by the operator and riders can be wiped down during on road changeovers. Operators should be training on safe use of any cleaning products and how to safely store and dispose of used supplies. This should include providing a secure means of storage on the bus, so that used cleaning supplies can be stored until the vehicle returns to the terminal.
  • Where recruitment and training of new transit operators continues during the pandemic, consideration should be given to the impact on worker safety during the training process. For example in scenarios where some of the training may be normally undertaken on a vehicle which is "in service" but physical distancing may not be possible.
  • Adapt procedures for potential vehicle stop incidents to ensure vehicles don’t fill up with people.
  • When assisting passengers, follow physical distancing measures if at all possible. If distance of 2 metres cannot be achieved and other control measures such as barriers cannot be used, the worker should position themselves behind the passenger wherever possible. Masks may also be considered to reduce the risk of transmission in these circumstances. Cloth and surgical masks may not protect the wearer from the virus because they do not form a tight seal with the face, but they can reduce the spread of the wearer’s respiratory droplets to others. For that reason, passengers may be asked to wear masks for these services to protect workers. Workers should also wear masks to protect clients. Refer to WorkSafeBC guidance on selecting and using masks.
  • Wherever possible, limit the number of interactions between the operator and the passenger and avoid physical contact with passengers.
  • Consider having any conversations with the passengers prior to them boarding the vehicle, where physical distancing can be more easily maintained, and not to shake hands when greeting. This will reduce the risk of transmission due to passengers and worker when in close proximity.
  • Consider enhanced vehicle cleaning practices between passengers, for example, clean lift equipment, seat belts and other securement devices between each use. Consider enhanced hygiene practices in between passengers, for example, using hand sanitizer and ensuring to increase frequency of hand washing during breaks.
  • Develop a system for loading luggage that allows for the driver to maintain physical distancing from passengers. For example, designate an area and method for luggage drop off that allows for appropriate physical distancing and spread luggage out among all luggage bays to minimize contact between passengers retrieving bags.
  • Operators should thoroughly wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after fueling, visiting a public establishment or handling luggage.
  • The operator and any other workers should remain outside the vehicle to maintain physical distance from passengers as they load. Load the passengers onto the vehicle first, when possible, to maintain physical distancing between workers and passengers.
  • Load the vehicle from back to front, ensuring passengers maintain physical distancing.
  • The vehicles typically used on this type of journey may have many additional touch points such as curtains, seat back handles, seat back trays, seat back magazine nets and reading lights. Consider temporary removal of as many of these items as possible and implement enhanced cleaning practices where this is not possible.
  • Consider onboard washrooms if practical. Where onboard washrooms are used, post signage reminding passengers to employ good hygiene practices and ensure washrooms are cleaned and disinfected at the end of each trip.
  • Consider reducing occupancy limits for vessel, shared spaces and elevators. See Help prevent the spread of COVID-19: Occupancy limit.
  • In pre-embarkation areas for foot or vehicle passengers (e.g., waiting areas, check-in, walkways), ensure physical distancing with floor markings and signage.
  • Encourage use of manual/automatic check-in kiosks.
  • Consider installing barriers (plexiglass, vinyl) at check-in and customer service desks.
  • Encourage vehicle passengers to remain in vehicles, unless essential (e.g., use of washroom).
  • During voyages, ensure there is clear communication with passengers of ferry protocols regarding where they can stay (e.g., in vehicles) and when and how to access facilities such as washrooms.
  • Ensure physical distancing is supported onboard by providing signage and floor markings for walkways, and seat spacing.
  • Ensure areas where passengers access leaflets, timetables, magazines, and newspapers from transit vehicles and vessels, public waiting areas, and walk-in-centres and shared workspaces are included in cleaning and sanitizing procedures.
  • Consider administrative or operational practices and adjust shift times, break times, use of break rooms to ensure physical distancing and reduces shared spaces.
  • At the time of booking, encourage riders to only use transit for essential trips and remind them of current public health officer guidance about non-essential travel and the concerns about travel to remote, First Nations, or smaller communities.
  • Inform the passenger of the additional precautions being taken (e.g., reduced occupancy, seating restrictions) and any additional travel requirements, during booking.
  • Consider where maximum capacity may vary depending on the nature of the booking. The physical distancing requirements for a group of individuals such as a sports team, who don’t live together, will be different to those required for a family group where a number of people will be able to be seated together. Limit the numbers of workers in control centres and dispatch locations to ensure physical distancing can be maintained and exposure to co-workers is minimized.
  • Consider relocating the control centre away from the main facility or having mobile dispatch centres where operators can collect paperwork, running boards and other equipment.
  • Consider the use of alternative dispatch procedures such as operators calling in or checking schedules online if possible.
  • Adjust work practices so workers won’t need to use multiple work stations/desks. Switch the function of the work station, not the worker.
  • Consider supplying workers with assigned equipment. For example, head set, and handheld radios.
  • Control centres may pose an additional risk especially where workers usually move from one workstation to another, either to perform a different task or to cover for someone in their absence. These risks should be identified and addressed. This may include the use of plexiglass barriers, enhanced cleaning practices or modifying working practices to reduce worker movement.
  • Enhance cleaning protocols for all high touch point areas. This includes workstations, keyboards, seats, arm rests, handheld radios.
  • To protect both workers and passengers, consider how COVID-19 related changes will impact boarding and exiting at various parts of the transit system. Consider increasing the time transit vehicles are stationary at stops or platforms to discourage rushing and enable physical distancing to be more easily maintained when entering or exiting the vehicle.
  • Identify areas where physical distancing could be an issue, such as bus terminals, rapid transit stations/platforms or customer service facilities and address the risk. Appropriate physical distancing measures should be implemented to protect workers. This may include measures like holding customers outside of the station (where it may be easier to ensure physical distancing) or using barriers, signs and floor markings on platforms.
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of all high touch surfaces at terminals, stations, stops and platforms. For example, handrails, fare collection systems, turnstiles, door handles, vending machines, garbage handles, benches, seats, emergency cabinets, emergency phones, etc.
  • Consider increasing levels of staffing at stations and on platforms to promote physical distancing guidelines and ensure adequate security/crowd control can be maintained. If this cannot be done, consider the use of barriers, or, where those are not practicable, consider masks.
  • Ensure workers who are expected to manage customer line-ups have received adequate training on how to handle a potential COVID-19 exposure situation and have been advised of and trained on the employer’s expectations on how to respond to customers who are unwilling to follow or who do not understand the employer’s protocols.
  • With reduced ridership, consider where transit security workers can monitor the workplace remotely via cameras, without being in close proximity to riders and workers.
  • Consider providing workers with hand hygiene supplies and sanitation kits including hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, cleaning spray and paper towels.
  • For frontline roles in the transit system, such as transit police and field supervisors, where physical contact may be unavoidable, workers should be provided with adequate protection. This may include gloves, masks, and face shields to protect them from the increased risk of transmission.
  • Provide extra supplies of personal protective equipment and a change of clothing to transit police workers to use in the event of clothing becoming contaminated during close interaction with passengers. A proper means of storage and disposable of such items also needs to be available.
  • Where transit workers such as inspector or transit police regularly need to work in groups of two or more, consider altering shift schedules in order to routinely pair the same workers together for the entire shift.
  • Transit system frontline workers should be made aware of the increased risks of transmission. Training on the additional risks of exposure and the proper protocols for dealing with the risk should also be provided.
  • For roles such as field supervisors, transit inspectors, station staff and transit police, assign vehicles to staff for entire shift, or assign vehicle to same group of staff, where possible. This can help to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Where the use of common facilities such as locker rooms or equipment stores cannot be avoided, implement occupancy limits to control the number of people in the space at the same time.
  • For transit police and security officers, if there is an increased risk of transmission through utility belts or other equipment like radios enhanced cleaning, disinfecting and handling processes should be implemented. Equipment should be cleaned at the start and end of each shift and training on any enhanced protocols should also be provided.
  • Consider scheduling teams or groups of maintenance workers on the same shift patterns.
  • Consider dedicated working areas for maintenance personnel such as mechanics so that physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Implement the use of drop off zones and return to service zones for transit vehicles, in order to limit the physical contact between maintenance workers and operators.
  • Implement enhanced hygiene practices that address the needs of your workplace and provide adequate training to workers on any new requirements. For example, mechanics and vehicle cleaning crews should be trained on removing, and safely disposing of work wear and personal protective equipment before leaving the work area to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Provide a safe place for cleaning crews to dispose of used sanitizing wipes and any other personal protective equipment they may use.
  • Ensure shared tools and equipment are covered in the cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
  • Implement a process for ensuring vehicles are suitably cleaned and disinfected before a worker begins to work on the vehicle, and before they are returned to service.

Controlling the risk of COVID-19 exposure – Other transportation sectors

Select a tab below for information specific to the nature of your work.

The nature of the trucking industry makes self-distancing the highest priority for drivers. A physical distance of at least 2 metres between individuals needs to be maintained and the number of interactions must be kept to a minimum.

Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • Try to remain in the cab during collection/delivery.
  • Where possible, find alternatives to physical proof of delivery signatures or sign on the receiver’s behalf.
  • Every workplace is dealing with COVID-19 in their own way, so call ahead to find out the site’s current requirements before making deliveries, and to help the customer be ready and prepared.
  • Consider wearing nitrile gloves (instead of work gloves), depending on the task and where appropriate, when loading or unloading. Remove and dispose of them in a garbage bag immediately after you are done.
  • At truck stops, maintain physical distancing when using the facilities, and maintain self-isolation by staying in your truck when you can. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes, especially after using the washrooms, showers or the laundry.
  • At gas stations, use nitrile gloves at all times when fueling, refrain from touching your face, immediately remove and dispose of them when you’re done and clean hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres at the facility.
  • For long haul cross border drivers, ensure they understand the self-isolation rules that apply to this sector and provide adequate resources for them to be able to comply. As reported by the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) requires all persons, including commercial drivers, to wear a non-medical face covering upon entry and while travelling to their destination in Canada.
  • Increase disinfecting practices of high touch point items inside and outside the vehicle, including in-cab communication devices, air lines, landing gear handles, trailer doors, refrigeration/heater unit controls and dollies.

Related links:

Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • Adjust practices for delivering the package to a person to ensure physical distancing is maintained. For example, where possible, drop packages at the door or outside buildings and avoid contact with other people (e.g. customers).
  • Communicate that a delivery has been made by phone call, text or email and avoid touching any surfaces (e.g., door bell).
  • Adjust practices for proof of delivery so that, where possible, in-person signatures can be avoided and online confirmation of receipt of package can be used instead.

Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • During curbside collections, reduce physical interactions with the public wherever possible.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including face/eye masks, where there is danger of being exposed to unknown airborne particles and puncture-resistant gloves.
  • Where possible, avoid handling waste that is un-bagged.
  • Modify collection practices to reduce manual waste handling, including at sorting and disposal facilities.
  • If unsure of the contents of the bin/container, seek clarification and advice before collecting.
  • Given the nature of work, personal hygiene is critical for workers in the waste collection/recycling industry.

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Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • Find methods to limit physical interactions with customers, such as using drop boxes, safe work zones (e.g., taping ground to ensure 2 metres of distance between each person), and electronic communication wherever possible. Other options could include closing waiting rooms and adopting drop off and collection zones or, if possible, offering a valet pick-up and delivery service.
  • Implement effective sanitization procedures, sanitizing vehicles surfaces before and after servicing.
  • For tow operators, when responding to a distressed call, stay in the vehicle and engage in the conversation over the phone (vs. in-person), or through a closed or slightly open window to the operator while maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres. Unless absolutely necessary, advise customers to find alternative transportation besides riding in the cab of the tow truck. If the operator has to check the customer’s identification/member card, have the member hold the card up but avoid handling it. If the tow operator needs to look more closely, have the driver place it down, step back and then the tow operator step forward and look.

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Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • Frequently clean forklifts and other mobile equipment using disinfectant wipes.
  • Clean and disinfect internal shipping areas, thoroughly cleaning anything that is touched. That includes but is not limited to desks, handrails, dock equipment, doors, windows, electronic devices, and scanners.
  • Limit access to warehouse environments and require drivers to remain in vehicles wherever possible.
  • Increase physical distancing by modifying shift patterns to minimize the number of workers on site at the same time and consider staggering start and finish times to help reduce worker contact in confined spaces, like changing rooms and lunch rooms.
  • Provide nitrile gloves for workers who could be exposed to the virus when loading/unloading freight, especially those who may be working the load by hand (hand-bombing).
  • Provide adequate disinfecting and sanitization facilities to ensure regular hand sanitization can be maintained.

The nature of this sector can make it difficult to exercise adequate physical distancing, particularly in smaller vehicles. Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • As much as possible, avoid physical contact with passengers. Eliminate the use of the front passenger seat, where passenger numbers allow for it, to maintain physical distancing.
  • Keep tissues and wipes within reach of passengers and immediately dispose of them after use in a garbage bag within reach.
  • Provide hand sanitizer for passengers to use at the start of the ride.
  • Use hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes after you handle cash or cards.
  • Increase signage at taxi-ranks advising passengers of basic hygiene etiquette.
  • Employers need to provide drivers with an adequate supply of hand sanitizers and alcohol-based disinfectant wipes.
  • Ensure seats, door handles, and windows are wiped down between fares.

Related link:

Employers in this sector may consider some of the following advice or best practices at their worksite to reduce the risk of worker exposure to COVID-19:

  • Before the crew is dispatched and again upon arrival at the move site, ask questions about the health of anyone who is or who has been on the property, specifically with regards to COVID-19. Ensure there are clear guidelines for what to do in cases where this could present a risk.
  • Replace in-home surveys with virtual surveys.
  • Add disinfectant wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizers to the trucks.
  • Perform a deep clean on all trucks between moves.
  • Refrain from shaking hands and have minimal customer contact. Encourage customers not to be present at the move location unless the move requires their input.
  • Restrict access to facilities and keep an accurate record of anyone visiting the site. Eliminate non-essential access if possible.

Related links:

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.

If you have a question or concern

Workers and employers with questions or concerns about workplace exposure to COVID-19 can call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention 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.