With the announcement of a phased withdrawal of COVID-19 related restrictions in the province, businesses are gearing up to restart, or ramp up, their operations. As per the Order of the Provincial Health Officer, there is a requirement for all employers in British Columbia to develop a “COVID-19 Safety Plan”. This means that employers preparing to resume operations must develop plans to reopen safely, which includes assessing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in their workplace, developing measures to reduce these risks and documenting their efforts.
go2HR’s new COVID-19 Workplace Assessment Tool provides tourism and hospitality employers with information and resources to assist you in developing a robust COVID-19 Safety Plan. Our tool includes five key steps, which will help you evaluate your current set up in relation to managing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in your workplace, with suggestions on how to improve.
Applying appropriate COVID-19 controls in the workplace
The overarching aim is to reduce the risk of the virus spreading through droplets in the air and from touching a contaminated surface and then touching the face. Therefore, any controls that you adopt within your workplace should always reflect that. Remember that different controls will offer varying levels of protection and the preferred option is always the control that offers the highest level of protection. This approach to controlling risks is referred to as the “hierarchy of controls”. This process involves assessing the risk (likelihood of harm or injury) associated with different hazards (something with the potential to cause harm or injury).
In relation to COVID-19, risk arises wherever there is a chance that the virus may be present in the workplace and therefore transmitted from person to person. The hazard is the existence of the COVID-19 virus itself. In some cases, it may be necessary to combine different levels of protection in order to control one particular risk. An example of this, in relation to managing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, is to install barriers to separate people (engineering control) and to wear a mask (personal protective equipment).
Types of risk controls
Critical to employers is how to get their people back to work and how to keep them safe at work once they are back. This resumption of business activities should be undertaken with physical distancing, detailed cleaning and personal hygiene in mind at all times. Therefore, as you work through the questions within our COVID-19 Workplace Assessment Tool, consider the following key principles:
- How your workplace is organized and arranged;
- How some specific activities are carried out;
- How you clean and sanitize; and
- How changes and precautions are communicated within the workplace.