Workers checking BC Vaccine Cards, as per the PHO order, may be subject to harassment, and/or threatening or violent behavior, which the employer must have policies and procedures in place, to protect their workers from these situations.
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation that address workers’ protection from these work-related risks falls under : Policy Item P2-21-2: Employer Duties - Workplace Bullying and Harassment, and OHS Regulation Part 4: Violence in the Workplace.
The Board has advised that employers should start transitioning to the Communicable Disease Prevention Plan, which took effect on July 01, 2021. This plan does not need to be posted or approved by the Board, but should have clear expectations, policies, guidelines on preventing the spread of communicable diseases, such as Covid-19, norovirus, and the common cold, within the workspace.
The short-term paid sick leave for Covid-19 will assist workers until they can access the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. It is meant for workers who are required to stay at home due to self-isolation, awaiting test results, etc. WorkSafeBC is assisting the province with administering the reimbursement program, which will pay up to $200 per day, per worker. Employers that have a highly paid workforce and do not have a paid sick leave program, will be expected to pay any amount exceeding the $200, for each Covid-19 sick day.
The online application will be available in mid-June through WorkSafeBC and is expected to continue until December 31, 2021.
The Board has advised that employers are required to submit a Form 7 if COVID-19 is work-related. The Board has confirmed that not all positive COVID cases are reportable. The exposure to the worker must be work-related.
As per WorkSafeBC the following conditions must be met: The nature of the worker's employment created a risk of contracting the disease significantly greater than the ordinary exposure of the public at large, A symptom cluster establishes the existence of COVID-19 and there is a medical diagnosis.
The PHO has implemented an an expedited workplace closure order, that allows inspections officers to shut down a workplace for a period of 10 days or longer, if needed, after a COVID-19 transmission has been detected. Transmission of COVID-19 at a workplace is when three or more workers test positive, in accordance with public health. WorkSafe BC has advised that if a closure is ordered, they will work to support public health and will serve the closure notice, as well as review the existing safety plan. A closure does not always result in the business/site being closed, and will be determined on an individual basis.
According to WSBC, there have been over 28000 COVID-19-related inspections and over 5000 consultations, with a total of over 3000 COVID-19-related orders that have been issued for health and safety violations.
As of Jan. 1, 2021, the following three provisions took effect:
The 32 legislative amendments that came into effect on August 14, 2020 include:
WSBC has now advised that if an injured worker is in self isolation/quarantine, then the worker is at risk of endangering the health/safety of others. Therefore, WSBC would pay full wages until the worker can participate in the RTW/GRTW. It is imperative to discuss alternative options with the Case Manager regarding, work from home options, etc., as well as a revised RTW/GRTW.
The Chief Review Officer has currently advised, extensions of time may be granted under section 96.2(4) of the Act, to extend the 90 day and 45 day time limits where there are special circumstances surrounding Covid-19. In addition, due to the complexity of the proceedings, there may also be an extension of time on the review itself, with is typically 150 days.
If staff is working from home, ensure that there is a policy in place that addresses health and safety for the home office and ways to prevent injuries. In addition, site inspections should be performed to ensure compliance and that the staff member is safe from hazards.
WSBC has advised that they do not offer coverage for workers who have been sent home on a precautionary basis by their employer to self-isolate, due to symptoms.
Workers have the right to refuse work, if they believe it presents an undue hazard. Undue hazard during Covid-19 would be where the job duties place them at an increased risk of exposure and safety measures are not in place to protect them from that exposure. The worker and the employer must collaborate to resolve the issue, otherwise WSBC must be contacted and a prevention officer will determine if the worksite is safe. If it is not orders may me issued.
**The information provided for Covid-19/Bill 23 and WSBC Claims does not constitute legal advice and is for informational purposes only.