Communicable Disease Plans – Guidance for Employers


 

Starting July 1, 2021, BC enters Step 3 of the Restart plan and businesses and employers should begin transitioning from their existing COVID-19 Safety Plans to new Communicable Disease Plans which will replace the more stringent measures required during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about developing a Communicable Disease Plan for your business, watch our exclusive session with WorkSafeBC:   Click here for the recording 

About Communicable Disease Plans

Due to the increase in vaccinations and the low community spread of COVID-19, the detailed controlled required during the pandemic will not be required.  Communicable Disease Plans will be much less involved than what employers encountered with COVID-19 safety plans.

Communicable Disease Plans should provide for broad steps that will help reduce the risk of all communicable diseases (such as influenza, norovirus, or COVID-19) such as providing handwashing facilities, ensuring workplaces are kept clean, ensuring adequate ventilation, and providing for staff to not be at work when sick.  Employers must also be prepared to add stepped-up measures if and when there is an elevated risk of communicable disease.

Communicable Disease Plans do NOT need to be written or posted and do NOT need to be submitted to or approved by WorkSafe BC.

Common measures required under COVID-19 Safety Plans – such as requiring masks, doing daily worker health checks, using directional arrows on floors – are NOT required any longer.  That said, employers are encouraged to consider maintaining some of those measures (which do not negatively impact operations) for a transition period, and can implement policies over and above the base requirements.

Developing your Communicable Disease Plan

To help with developing your plan, download the Communicable Disease Plan Guide for Employers.

Communicable Disease Plans are basic plans and are supplemental to your pre-COVID health and safety plans/rules specific to your industry or workplace.

To develop your Communicable Disease Plans, employers should undertake these 4 basic steps.

1)  Understand the Risk

Employers are required to monitor and review information coming from public health officers in the future.   As a member of the Burnaby Board of Trade, you will continue to receive guidance and information from us on future changes and orders.

2) Implement Policies and Practices

Given the information from public health gained from step 1, employers will develop ongoing practices which will be undertaken at all times in their workplaces.  These measures are basic health and safety measures, and must include the following 5 items:

  • Develop policies to have staff stay home and not in the workplace when sick
  • Providing handwashing facilities or hand sanitizer
  • Cleaning the workplace as appropriate for your industry
  • Ensuring the workplace has adequate ventilation
  • Support employees in getting vaccinations through flexible policies (in accordance to BC Employment Standards Act requirements for 3 hours of paid vaccination leave)

*Additional Measures*

If, at any time, public health officials declare a period of elevated risk — such as a regional hotspot or outbreak, or during a season flare-up of any virus – employers will be required to implement additional measures.  Guidance on these additional measures will be provided by WorkSafeBC and public health officials, but could include actions similar to what was undertaken during COVID-19 (mask wearing, physical distancing, plexiglass barriers, reduced capacity, etc).

3) Communicate Your Policies

Ensure your staff, contractors, and anyone else entering your workplace receives information about your practices for managing communicable diseases.  For example, employees should be informed of policies around handwashing, or expectations around staying home when sick.

4) Monitor and Change as Needed

Employers should monitor their workplaces and respond accordingly if plans or practices need to be updated or changed.   This should include responding to any concerns of your employees regarding health and safety.

Questions and Support

For questions or support on developing and implement Communicable Disease Plans, and your obligations as an employer, visit WorkSafeBC online, or contact their helpline at 604.276.3100.

Burnaby Board of Trade members with questions or concerns around this, or any business issue, can contact the Burnaby Board of Trade and our Director of Policy at 604 412 0100 or cory@bbot.ca