There’s help for Surrey businesses to set up their safety plan to re-open

Chris Back of WorkSafeBC tackled some finer points Tuesday during a ‘digital town hall’ hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade

Every employer in B.C. is now required to develop a COVID-19 safety plan for the workplace, by order of the provincial government last Friday, in an effort to prevent exposure to the virus among employees and customers.

Chris Back, director of industry and labour services at WorkSafeBC, tackled some of the finer points of the process Tuesday during a “digital town hall” hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade, via Zoom.

Among challenges business are facing is to ensure a distance of at least two metres, or six feet, is maintained between employees, controlling the frequency and volume of customers or clients coming into the work space, controlling how long people engaging with one another and keeping an eye on regular contact with shared surfaces, such lights switches, door handles and perhaps keyboards.

WorkSafeBC offers on its website a template for a six-point safety plan to help employers develop their plan. These include assessing risks at your workplace, implementing protocols to reduce risks, developing policies, developing communication plans and training, monitoring your workplace and updating your plans as necessary, and assessing and addressing risks from resuming operations.

“You do not need to have a formal plan in place to begin operation,” Back said. “But you are expected to develop it while you are protecting the safety of your workers. You do need to know how you’re protecting the safety of your workers before you can open your doors.”

READ ALSO: B.C.’s mental health minister reminds Surrey there’s ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

READ ALSO: Surrey panel tackles re-opening for business in the wake of COVID-19

By order of Provincial Health Officer, he said, businesses must post a copy of their COVID-19 safety plan on their website and at the workplace so it is readily available for workers, other people attending to provide services and to the general public.

“An important note though is you are not required to submit your place to WorkSafeBC for approval before you can open your doors,” he said. “However, if an officer does come by your work and does an inspection you will be asked to provide them with a copy of that plan and be expected to be able to produce that plan, or there is a possibility that an order could be written.”

Back noted it’s important for employers to involve their staff in the process of assessing what activities, situations and tasks constitute an increased risk that the virus, if present, could be transmitted.

“You want to ensure you involve frontline workers, supervisors, joint committee worker representatives in that conversation,” he said. “It’s very important that this is a joint effort – that you are including your workers as you are putting together your plan. And you want to consider questions like where do people congregate, where is the possibility of people coming together and not being able to maintain that two metres of distance, what job tasks require workers to come into close proximity with one another or members of the public, the tools and machinery people come into contact with.”

Employers with 20 or more workers are required to have a joint official safety committee and those with between nine and 19 workers are required to have a worker representative. Those with less than nine workers must still engage with their employees in a “structured manner” to address COVID-19 related safety issues.

“It is extremely important that you are including your workers throughout this process,” he said.

Back noted that workers have a right to report hazards and refuse unsafe work.

They should also take care outside work hours to avoid situations where they might pick up an infection and bring it back to the job site.

While COVID-19 of course constitutes a physical threat, Back advises employers to also consider the psychological impact the pandemic is having on employees.

“COVID has impacted everyone, in every way that we live and we work, everything to do with our livelihoods, and that impacts people in different ways. It can affect people, increase anxiety and stress, uncertainty about how this pandemic is going to impact them, and what the future might hold,” Back noted. “So it’s really important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health and employers should take measures to support mental well-being and help for their workers.”

“This is something that you do need to pay attention to,” he said. “Please don’t forget about the psychological health and safety of your workers as we’re going through this.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

CoronavirusSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Charges laid in 2019 single-vehicle crash in Surrey that killed young soccer star

Dilpreet Sandhu, 19, faces eight charges in early morning crash that killed Brandon Bassi

Surrey pushing the poor out of Whalley, public hearing speakers say

‘There is a war on the poor here in Surrey,’ resident Dave Diewert tells city council

IHIT investigating death of Surrey woman

Injured woman was taken to SMH early Tuesday morning

Surrey seniors call Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, a new-to-B.C. program

‘Crazy coincidence’ saw program connect soon after COVID-19 pandemic hit

Surrey Mounties seize guns, drugs and cash from Guildford residence

One man was arrested but no charges have been laid as investigation continues

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

COVID claims 23rd Langley Lodge patient, making it the deadliest outbreak in B.C.

Coronavirus kills another senior at Langley care home, bringing B.C. total to 166

Family of dead B.C. football star urge changes to mental health policies in hospitals

Uko family disappointed in actions of Regina hospital, hosting public funeral service this weekend

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Maple Ridge woman fights WorkSafe BC over police widow’s pension

Dalila Vroom says husband, Const. Rob Vroom, died as a result of PTSD from time with Abbotsford PD

Most Read