Frequently Asked Questions
You probably have a lot of questions about COVID-19 and your workplace. We’ll do our best to answer those concerns here.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Communicate clearly
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.
- 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.
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 7:30am-8pm at 1-888-COVID19.
How does the provincial health authority requirement of no gatherings of more than 50 people apply in a manufacturing plant or other business?
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.
Will business sites be quarantined or closed if there’s a potential situation of an infected worker? If so, what measures must be taken to resume business?
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.
To avoid a closure of an essential business, will public health authorities conduct testing to screen other potentially infected employees?
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.
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.
Are there other specific things a prevention officer would be looking for in evaluating whether a plant is safe to remain operating?
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.
Watch for further guidance soon from WorkSafeBC to employers on what officers will be looking for in workplaces with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How do I self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19?
If you have been in close contact with someone who has (or suspects they may have) a COVID-19 infection, the BC Centre for Disease Control recommends you self-isolate at home for 14 days, watching for new signs or symptoms of infection. These may include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and in some cases, gastrointestinal issues.
Take your temperature each day and avoid the use of fever-reducing medications (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.) as much as possible, as these can mask the early signs of an infection. If you need to take any of these medications, advise your healthcare provider and ask for further direction.
If you develop any of these symptoms, use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help decide whether you need to contact a doctor.
As part of our commitment to keep our staff safe and to slow the transmission of COVID-19 in Canada, many of the Alliance staff are working remotely. However, our advisors are available to talk by phone, email or online, so please reach out for any support or questions you may have. Some events attract a larger crowd and we are evaluating each event on a one by one basis. The following upcoming events may have had their status changed due to the COVID-19 Outbreak.
Member Tips – What Other Manufacturers are doing
Employers are doing their best to follow workplace health and safety regulations and keep up with the evolving requirements of the Public Health Office. Here are examples of the infectious disease protocols and safeguards in place in their manufacturing and food processing plants today: