Knowledgebase

What happens if part of a production facility cannot be configured to accommodate the recommended physical distancing of 2 metres?

For those businesses that are permitted to remain open, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) has required the physical distancing of two metres where possible between workers.

Employers may need to assess those parts of a production area where this is a challenge and may need to modify their operations accordingly (i.e., temporarily shutting down areas of non-critical operations where physical distancing is not possible).

Employers are expected to implement all reasonable steps to ensure physical distancing practices are implemented in their workplace in accordance with the PHO’s direction.

See: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/employers-businesses

Except where work is subject to specific regulatory requirements around personal protective equipment (PPE), such as are in place for exposure to silica, mould, etc., WorkSafeBC is not advising employers in general at this time about specific use of PPE.

PPE should be selected and used as set out in OHSR s. 8.3, and in consultation with the joint health and safety committee at your workplace. To discuss your specific situation with a safety advisor, please (contact the Alliance by email)[mailto:[email protected]] or call 1-604-795-9595.

At this time, it is unlikely that WorkSafeBC would consider exposure to COVID-19 in a manufacturing setting to be a high-risk violation that could result in a stop-work order, and they have stated that they will not issue stop-work orders against essential services. It is possible, however, that other regulators could. For example, Black Press reported on March 29, 2020 that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency temporarily halted production at a Calgary beef processing plant after a worker tested positive for the virus until the plant could demonstrate that it had a plan in place to ensure the safety of both employees and inspectors.

The regulators recognize that achieving 2m physical distancing may not be possible in some facilities. To mitigate the risk, refer to {Canada's public health guidelines for risk-informed decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic)[https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/guidance-documents/risk-informed-decision-making-workplaces-businesses-covid-19-pandemic.html].

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