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UPDATE – WorkSafeBC Will Shut Down Businesses for 10 Days re: COVID Transmission

Vancouver (with files from MSN/Global) – WorkSafeBC inspectors have now been given new enforcement powers and will lower the boom on businesses if there is a confirmed report (s) of COVID-19 transmission.

In the Thursday briefing, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the COVID-19 response in British Columbia:

It was another one day record.

“Today, we are reporting 1,293 new cases, for a total of 108,278 cases in British Columbia.”

That led to powers for WorksafeBC from Dr. Henry:

“Workplaces continue to be sustained areas of transmission, clusters and outbreaks. These have strained public health resources to manage, so a new provincial health officer Expedited Workplace Closure order is being put in place to allow WorkSafeBC inspectors to support the work of public health and to support businesses when a COVID-19 outbreak occurs at the worksite.

“Starting Monday, when the public health investigation determines that transmission has occurred at the workplace, an order may be issued closing the workplace for 10 days or longer to stop the transmission. In the case of complex workplaces (e.g., large construction sites), the closure may be restricted to those parts of the workplace where transmission has occurred.  

“Public health will also assess whether there is an overriding public interest to keep the workplace open. This would apply to such locations as police stations, fire halls, health-care facilities, schools, shelters, the ferry system, public transportation and distribution hubs of necessary goods such as food and medicine, pharmacies and grocery stores.

“When a closure is ordered, WorkSafeBC will serve the closure notice and will then support the workplace to review and enhance safety plans, as needed. A list of workplaces that have been closed and the date of their reopening will be posted on the health authority websites. In all cases additional outbreak control measures, including contact tracing and immunization will continue under public health direction.

“Work with employers and WorkSafeBC has been ongoing and will continue through the weekend in preparation of the coming into force of this order on Monday.

“One year ago, we asked people to share their perspectives and their experiences in our provincewide ‘Your story, our future’ survey, and a record number of people took part.

“Today, we are asking you to once again, share your feedback on how COVID-19 has affected you, and what tools and supports you need as we look ahead to our pandemic recovery. The new survey is available at: www.bccdc.ca/covid19survey

“We encourage everyone to once again participate.”

Craig Fitzsimmons, Media relations with WorkSafeBC forwarded this statement to FVN:

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, the Provincial Health Officer has delegated powers of the Public Health Act to WorkSafeBC prevention officers. This means that WorkSafeBC prevention officers can serve a closure order on a business with COVID-19 transmission when directed by a medical health officer.

After the business has re-opened, WorkSafeBC will conduct a COVID-19 inspection to review the employer’s COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Any specific questions about the PHO’s order should be directed to the Ministry of Health.

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