COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #14

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Dear Strata Councils,

Our latest update is targeted at one specific issue, Worksafe BC’s requirements for Employers.

WorksafeBC has mandated that all Employers, including Strata Corporations, are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan “that outlines the policies, guidelines and procedures they have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission”.

WorksafeBC has put together a tool to assist Employers with preparing a Safety Plan, which you can find at https://www.worksafebc.com/en/resources/health-safety/checklist/covid-19-safety-plan?lang=en.

With the assistance of industry colleagues, we have assembled several resources to assist Strata Councils with preparing an appropriate Safety Plan. That said, we lack the expertise to prepare one on your behalf- we are required by our regulators to identify when a matter exceeds our professional training and preparing WorksafeBC compliant Safety Plans certainly qualifies. Accordingly, we will share below (and attached) several resources that may assist you. These should be seen as starting points rather than final packages- many details will be site/Strata Corporation specific.

If this process seems daunting, we understand and we are working to identify third party WorksafeBC consultants who would be able to assist Strata Corporations with preparing plans that are appropriate for your unique needs (we have yet been unable to do so). We will continue to share resources as they become available so that you can make sound decisions on behalf of your Strata Corporation.

If your Strata Corporation has already appointed an Emergency Committee, you’ve likely already taken a great deal of the advice and recommendations from WorksafeBC into consideration and you may be in a position where all you have to do is formalize existing procedures/policies in writing so that the Plan is available for WorksafeBC to review (it is important to have this in a draft at the very least to demonstrate you are aware of the need to have a plan in place). If you haven’t yet formed a Committee, we’d recommend you do so in order to ensure that the Plan is prepared and followed. Your Property Manager can take any direction you might have arising from this review, whether it’s amending Sick Leave policies for employees, purchasing new signage or arranging the purchase of masks and hand sanitizer (which fortunately are becoming more and more available).

Some of the more important takeaways for consideration, which we’ve attempted to address with the attached include:

  • Strata Councils are required to evaluate existing policies and procedures to ensure strict compliance with WorksafeBC policies around social distancing, hygiene, sick leave and more;
  • Any amendments to an employee’s contractual agreement does require their written consent;
  • Signage is required in certain locations, in particular those areas where social distancing is difficult (i.e.. elevators, lobbies, etc.). Traffic flow directional arrows may be appropriate in some locations;
  • Occupancy limits should be established for shared spaces i.e.. the “15% rule” advocated by CHOA and other industry organizations discussed in our Update #13, or some other limit you may determine, limiting the capacity of a room to 15% of it’s previous based on the math of ensuring 6 feet between each individual with appropriate signage posted as noted above;
  • The Safety Plan itself must be posted on site, and employees should be directed to notify either the Strata Council or the Property Manager if a WorksafeBC representative visits the property for an inspection.

Here, you will find the following documents to assist you:

  1. A blank WorksafeBC Safety Plan (template) to follow, fill out and make available on site;
  2. Examples of instructional signage prepared by WorksafeBC (i.e.. proper use of gloves, hygiene tips, etc.) to be posted in common areas and for staff as appropriate;
  3. Blank signage stating new occupancy limits for common spaces which haven’t or can’t be closed;
  4. Screening signage, notifying guests not to enter if they are sick (ideally placed on all entrances) or are subject to self-isolation/quarantine rules;
  5. A sample sick leave policy addendum for your employees- to be clear this is not a substitute for legal advice and you should seek legal advice before altering a contract, however this will serve as a useful template for extending sick leave to staff members (which is a requirement under Employment Standards and a generally good idea to discourage employees from coming to work when they are ill);
  6. A sample employee policy addendum, with clear and simple rules to be followed with respect to Hygiene, maintaining physical distancing, use of PPE (as appropriate), etc. Again, this is not a substitute for legal advice and because it constitutes an amendment to your employee’s agreement we do recommend you seek specific legal advice if you intend to implement a measure such as this.

To be clear, WorksafeBC has limited resources and will most likely be responding to complaints rather than actively enforcing the new requirement for a COVID-19 Safety Plan. It’s also very likely that you have already implemented some or all of the measures which would form part of your Plan, in one way or another. For example, there is no need to post signage on amenity spaces which remain closed. Many buildings have already placed plexiglass shields in strategic locations or implemented limits on the number of individuals allowed within elevators based on the public guidance of health authorities. However, it is important to ensure that your employees, trades people and of course your resident groups are protected from both harm (the virus) and liability (not following the requirements of WorksafeBC).

We will continue to provide information as it becomes available to us, to help you ensure that your Strata Corporation is complying with the latest regulations as they are announced. Take care and stay safe.