Making the Move From COVID-19 to Communicable Diseases Prevention

There have been several comments made in various zoom conversations over the last month about how great it has been to have experienced fewer colds and flus over the course of the pandemic. In our collective efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay, it has meant less seasonal illness for everyone.

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So, it is no surprise that as we see immunization rates rise around the province we are being asked to transition from COVID-19 Safety Plans to Communicable Disease Plans. Given that no one enjoys getting sick, there is no time like the present to start making the workplace safe from all communicable diseases! The question is, how do we do that exactly?

Luckily, we have some tips for you and WorkSafeBC has put together some excellent resources to help employers move through this transition as seamlessly as possible. Here are some quick highlights for you with links to some great materials.

  1. Keep doing what we know works. Washing our hands, staying home when sick, increased cleaning protocols, wearing masks; these are all things that we know make a difference in the transmission of a communicable disease. If they don’t impact business operations, keep doing them!
  2. Stay home if sick. For employers, this means creating a workplace culture that allows employees to be able to stay home when they are sick. There is now a requirement from employers to provide paid sick leave, so be sure to update your policies and practices.
  3. Continue to understand and assess your risk. This is an evolving situation so make changes as you go. For example, windows open in the summer make for great ventilation but come the Fall, you might need to assess the effectiveness of your ventilation system.
  4. Know the rules. WorkSafeBC materials include a 4 Step Communicable Disease Prevention Planning template which offers an easy to use format. The relevant section of the Workers Compensation Act – G-PS-21 Communicable Disease Prevention was updated July 1 2021 and it is very helpful. There is also a great Forms and Resources section on the WorkSafeBC site.
  5. Communicate. This is always recommended. Talk to your employees. Share your plans, your thinking, and as much information as possible to help build buy-in to the overall shift that is happening. All these precautions and plans are designed to keep workers safe. Talk about that!

While we always recommend following WorkSafeBC legislation and guidelines, there is one requirement that we don’t agree with. WorkSafeBC indicates that if you are in a non-health care setting, you do not need to write down, or post, your Communicable Disease Plan.  This is where we differ. Our recommendation would be that you do write down your plan and share it with your employees. This will bring clarity to everyone in the workplace about what you are doing to maintain a safe and clean environment and will make it easier for employees to know how to follow the guidelines.

Your Engaged Assignment: Take a look around your organization and commit to doing the things that will make a difference in the health and safety of your workforce. While it might feel good to rip up that COVID Safety Plan, you might want to keep the best parts of it in place.

Need a hand with this transition to BC’s Restart Plan? We are here to help!