One of our workers has contracted COVID-19. What do we do?

As an employer, your duty and focus is to take action to minimize the risk of exposure and spread of the virus.

  1. Isolate the worker.
    If an employee shows any of the signs of COVID-19, the employee has a responsibility to stay home, and to notify their employer. For specific advice, they should call HealthLinkBC at 811 to speak to a nurse.

    If the employee is tested and receives a negative result, the employee must have a doctor’s approval to return to work. The doctor may request that the employee complete a 14-day self-isolation regardless of the results.

    If the employee tests positive, the employee must seek medical treatment immediately and remain in quarantine until approved by a doctor to safely return to work.

    What is involved in self-isolation? See Testing and Isolation.

  2. Contain the exposure.
    Take immediate steps to identify the extent of potential exposure in your facility. Any employee who has been in close contact with the worker in the past X days should also be sent home to self-isolate, monitoring themselves for signs of infection, for 14 days, or until the ill employee receives a negative COVID-19 test result.
  3. Sterilize the workplace
    Ensure a proper infection control cleaning protocol is implemented to clean and sterilize the potentially contaminated work area(s). Follow these directions from the Centre for Disease Control.
  4. Communicate clearly and report if required
    If you produce food products, report the incident immediately to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

    Inside your organization, remember that gossip and fear spread quickly. The best solution is to communicate clearly, quickly, and frequently, explaining the situation and the control measures you have put in place to keep employees safe.

  5. Enhance the measures you already have in place to prevent the spread of infection
    The CDC recommends the following:
  • Cleaning: Consider increasing the frequency of routine cleaning. If you are cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily, increase to twice a day using the same products.
  • Space: Consider the density of your business and provide additional space for customers and employees to interact. For example:
  • Consider how line ups, seating, or workstation setup can be expanded so that people are able to put 2 metres of space between one another.
  • Avoid visiting another area or department to ask a question; use the phone instead.
  • As much as possible, establish separate, clean entrances and exits for your building and key work areas to avoid congestion.
  • Consider how you could adjust your schedule to reduce the number of staff in an area at once, and to keep crews separate from each other—to reduce the risk of exposure if someone becomes ill.
  • Hand hygiene: Ensure your washrooms and hand-washing stations are always stocked with soap and consider offering hand sanitizer at entrances. Ensure that staff have clear instructions for hand hygiene, including glove use if required.
  • Communication: Show your customers and employees what you are doing to support the work to slow transmission of this virus by communicating online and at your place of business.
  • Employees who feel unwell: Support your employees to stay home if they are sick.

Need more help? Call 811 and follow the instructions.

Wait times can be long, but keep trying—or consider using the non-medical information COVID-19 line available from 7:30 am-8 pm at 1-888-COVID19.

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