COMMUNICABLE DISEASE UPDATE: Recent PHO announcement transitions back to Communicable Disease Safety Plans.
As of April 8, 2022, employers can shift back to communicable disease prevention plans to manage the risks of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases in the workplace.
WorkSafeBC has updated the Communicable Disease section of their website to include the OHS Guideline G-P2-21 on Communicable Disease Prevention, a Communicable Disease Prevention Employers Guide and information on how WorkSafeBC is supporting employers and workers during this transition.
BCFSC has developed Employer Resources to help you adapt your health and safety plans for communicable disease prevention.
What employers need to do
Managing communicable disease at your workplace is part of an effective Occupational Health and Safety Program.
Employers are required to monitor for communicable disease-related information from their regional public health officials and the provincial health officer related to their area and industry, and be prepared to follow and implement additional prevention measures as required by a medical health officer or the provincial health officer to deal with communicable diseases in their workplace or or region, should those be necessary.
Employers do not have to write or post plans for communicable disease prevention or have them approved by WorkSafeBC. Some employers may benefit from documenting their plan to assist in planning and communicating their communicable disease prevention measures, practices, and policies. Use the Communicable Disease Prevention Employers Guide as a template.
What workers need to do
Communicable disease prevention involves understanding the level of risk in your workplace and implementing appropriate measures to reduce the spread and risk of communicable diseases.
Workers have the right to refuse work if they believe it presents an undue hazard. An undue hazard is an “unwarranted, inappropriate, excessive, or disproportionate” hazard. For communicable diseases, an “undue hazard” would be one where a worker’s job role places them at increased risk of exposure and adequate controls are not in place to protect them from that exposure.
The BCFSC will continue to work with WorkSafeBC and follow the PHO recommendations to provide guidance and support to our members.
What is Communicable Disease Prevention?
A communicable disease is an illness caused by an infectious agent or its toxic product that can be transmitted in a workplace from person to person.
Examples of communicable diseases that may circulate in a workplace include COVID-19, norovirus and seasonal influenza.
Help Reduce the Spread and Risk of Communicable Diseases
Employers should develop a communicable disease prevention plan as described in the WorkSafeBC Communicable Disease Guide and Template.
BCFSC has developed a sample template of a Communicable Disease Prevention Plan. This plan can be adapted to suit the needs of your organization.
Access the Employer Resources and WorkSafeBC links to help you adapt your health and safety plans for communicable disease prevention.
Risk Reduction Measures
Ongoing risk reduction measures include:
- Have policies to support staff who have symptoms of a communicable disease (for example, fever and/or chills, recent onset of coughing, diarrhea), so they can avoid being at the workplace when sick.
- Promoting hand hygiene at work with appropriate supplies and reminding employees through policies and signage to wash their hands regularly and to use appropriate hygiene practices.
- Maintaining a clean work environment through routine cleaning processes
- Ensure building ventilation is properly maintained and functioning as designed
- Support employees in receiving vaccinations for vaccine-preventable conditions to the extent that you are able.
Read more about communicable disease prevention on the WorkSafeBC website.
WorkSafeBC provides Communicable Disease health and safety resources to help keep workplaces safe.
If you are unsure of which information you need to support your organization, the BCFSC is here to help. We have Safety Advisors all over BC who can help you put your plans into action.
Contact us with your questions.