Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Due to high infection rates from the Omicron variant and an increase in hospitalizations, on January 7, 2022, British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) announced an order (not yet available) requiring employers to re-activate their COVID-19 Safety Plans. WorkSafeBC, which oversees and enforces COVID-19 Safety Plans, has made available an updated COVID-19 Safety Plan template and industry-specific information.
Early in the pandemic, after WorksafeBC published guidance requiring employers to develop formal, written and rigorous COVID-19 Safety Plans to reduce the risk of COVID transmission in the workplace, the PHO published an order dated May 14, 2020. This order required employers to post a copy of their COVID-19 Safety Plans on their websites and at their workplace so that it was readily available for review by workers, other persons who may attend at the workplace to provide services, and members of the public. The order also required employers to provide a copy of their COVID-19 Safety Plans to a health officer or a WorkSafeBC officer, on request.
On July 1, 2021, British Columbia moved to Step 3 of its four-step restart plan, and businesses were permitted to transition from COVID-19 Safety Plans to communicable disease prevention, which focuses on basic risk-reduction principles to reduce the risk of workplace transmission of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Communicable disease prevention guidance was provided by WorkSafeBC, and employers did not have to write or post plans for communicable disease prevention or have them approved by WorkSafeBC. Although the requirement to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan was lifted, employers were permitted to maintain them, and some may have chosen to maintain all or many of their plans’ measures.
In accordance with the January 7, 2022, announcement of an order requiring BC employers to re-activate their COVID-19 Safety Plans, employers are encouraged seek the support of experienced employment counsel in reviewing plans to ensure that they are current and consistent with all public health guidance and orders (once available) from the PHO.