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What workers and employers need to know about COVID-19 (Worksafe BC)

STAFF EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT – HR & OHS

Original publication. Published on: March 06, 2020

Public health officials have currently identified that the risk of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading within British Columbia is low, and WorkSafeBC is continuing to monitor the progression of the virus.

As information about COVID-19 develops, WorkSafeBC will continue to refer to the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Public Health Agency of Canada for guidance.

Since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in Metro Vancouver in late January, a small number of additional cases in British Columbia have been confirmed. These cases are being closely managed and patients have either fully recovered or continue to recover in isolation at home and under the care of public health teams.

For more information, including public health alerts and FAQs, please see the COVID-19 information at the following websites:

HealthLinkBC

BC Centre for Disease Control website

Information about COVID-19

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. A new coronavirus named “COVID-19” (previously known as 2019-nCoV) has been identified – one that was not previously found in humans.

Information for employers and workers

WorkSafeBC is currently advising employers and workers that special precautions for COVID-19 are not required, beyond the recommended measures to prevent common respiratory viruses like influenza.

These measures include:

  • Wash your hands often, and always after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or, if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

For more information about COVID-19, please refer to the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

WorkSafeBC has been communicating with our prevention officers to assist them in supporting employers with information about COVID-19 and employer obligations in the workplace. Workers in the health care sector may have a higher potential risk of coming into contact with infected persons. WorkSafeBC is engaging with health authorities to verify their infection prevention and exposure control plans are effective and in place. The World Health Organization recommends that health care workers consistently apply appropriate infection prevention and control measures, including hand hygiene; wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, including masks and eye protection, when assessing patients with respiratory illness; and performing a risk assessment before providing care.

This announcement was originally published on January 31, 2020 and updated on March 6, 2020.