Employer Responsibilities

Information on employer responsibilities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WorkSafeBC expects employers to be taking all reasonable steps to comply with the Public Health Officer (PHO) orders and requirements to protect their workers in addition to their responsibilities under the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.

Workplace inspections play a critical role in ensuring workplaces are healthy and safe. During this situation, WorkSafeBC will continue their work with employers and workers to help them take the necessary steps to protect those who remain at work, including preventative measures to slow the progression of COVID-19. Wherever possible, WorkSafeBC will explore alternative approaches when connecting with workplaces (employer and worker representative), including remote inspections.

WorkSafeBC recommends the use of this new guide Preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. This guide contains questions employers should ask themselves to better understand the health and safety concerns in the workplace raised by COVID-19. Topics covered include:

  • Identifying exposure hazards and developing measures to control exposure
  • Controlling the number of people on site
  • Prohibition of workers who are sick and those returning from outside Canada

Considering pandemic planning would be a prudent process. Employers are expected to follow OHSR5.2 and OHSR5.59 in relation to COVID-19 exposure in their workplace.

OHSR 3.3 Contents of program

The occupational health and safety program must be designed to prevent injuries and occupational diseases, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the program must include:

  1. A statement of the employer's aims and the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors, and workers,
  2. Provision for the regular inspection of premises, equipment, work methods, and work practices, at appropriate intervals, to ensure that prompt action is undertaken to correct any hazardous conditions found,
  3. Appropriate written instructions, available for reference by all workers, to supplement this Occupational Health and Safety Regulation,
  4. Provision for holding periodic management meetings for the purpose of reviewing health and safety activities and incident trends, and for the determination of necessary courses of action,
  5. Provision for the prompt investigation of incidents to determine the action necessary to prevent their recurrence,
  6. The maintenance of records and statistics, including reports of inspections and incident investigations, with provision for making this information available to the joint committee or worker health and safety representative, as applicable and, upon request, to an officer, the union representing the workers at the workplace or, if there is no union, the workers at the workplace, and
  7. Provision by the employer for the instruction and supervision of workers in the safe performance of their work.

Refer to BC Centre of Disease Control Environmental Health Officer.


At this point, workers should be utilizing the system checker and call 811 to confirm what actions they should be taking, especially when they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in their home, as they are at high risk of exposure and may be required to self-isolate based on recommendations from 811.

See WorkSafeBC guidance: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/news-events/announcements/2020/March/covid-19-and-the-workplace

Once a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the public health office will conduct an investigation and will communicate instructions to the employer for what they must do next. As part of their investigation, they will be questioning others in the workplace to identify those who were in close contact with the individual.

If a worker suspects they may be infected, the BC CDC website has a COVID-19 Self-assessment tool (https://covid19.thrive.health/) and depending on the answers, it will provide next steps.

Refer to the BC Centre of Disease Control Environmental Health Officer

Employers must inform all workers about the importance of not coming to work if they are sick or have symptoms. Once a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, a Public Health Officer will provide instructions for the workplace on what must be done. It is possible that the workplace will be closed temporarily for deep cleaning and then reopen once it is safe to do so.


The safety culture of your organization should impact your ability to influence workers beyond the workplaces and into the actions they take at home and in their communities.