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March 27, 2020 - COVID-19: Health and Safety Considerations

As the social services sector continues to navigate the unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19, employers remain responsible for safeguarding the health and safety of employees.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that they continue to comply with and consistently apply WorkSafeBC requirements. Therefore, the employer must ensure a risk assessment is completed and that employees are provided with the appropriate orientation, training and personal protective equipment prior to engaging in work. It is important to note that, because community social services agencies provide a wide spectrum of services and programs throughout the province, the nature of an employee’s occupation and function will be the primary basis for an effective risk assessment process. 

At the agency level please ensure collaborations with your Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committees and unions are active and involved throughout this process and staff are kept informed.

In the workplace in the event an employee (assigned duties) contracts COVID-19 and it is confirmed by a medical authority, a WorkSafeBC claim can be launched.  If the infected employee has multiple employers they must immediately report their condition to all employers. 

An employee’s “Right to Refuse Work” must adhere to your agency’s existing policy and procedures in terms of reporting the refusal. An employee’s right to raise concerns about risks that have been identified should also be conducted in a manner that adheres to your agencies policy and procedures.

WorkSafeBC has granted short term extensions for employees with expiring  First Aid Certifications. Please also contact your instructional providers in areas such as WHMIS, Mandt, NCI, and others to confirm status of continual certification.

In situations where the employer has directed employees to work from home, all aspects of the employees’ work-related functions and responsibilities, including confidentiality (PIPA & PEPIDA), are to be treated as they have signed off on their employment contract/agreement, and they are to conduct themselves accordingly. 

If an employee is directed by the employer to work in a Home Share or Independent Living site, a risk assessment must be completed and the employee must be provided with all pertinent training and safeguards prior to him/her working. If the employee is injured in these work environments, either the employer’s WorkSafeBC coverage or the Home Share or Independ Living, Personal Optional Protective insurance will be activated.  

Employers are also asked to consult the web resources outlined in the CSS Health and Safety COVID-19 Checklist to access the latest updates. Please contact your CSSEA Consultant or Advocate if you have further questions. 


Communications Contact

Doris Sun
Director of Communications
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