Developing a COVID-19 Safety Plan will help you reopen and manage your business safely to protect staff and customers. This section aims to answer your questions around developing your own Safety Plan, and help you get ready for reopening under Provincial Health and WorkSafeBC guidelines.
What is a COVID-19 Safety Plan?
Your COVID-19 Safety Plan helps you assess your business's readiness for reopening. It also creates a plan for minimizing the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace when you do reopen. Here's what your Safety Plan needs to accomplish:
- Detail the steps you have taken to reopen and operate safely during COVID-19
- Help ensure you comply with Public Health and Safety Guidelines and WorkSafeBC
- Reassure your customers and staff that you are taking all the necessary steps to protect them during COVID-19
Many businesses that closed voluntarily can consider reopening. If your business was ordered to close by a Provincial or Regional Health Order, you can only reopen once the order has been lifted. However, you can start the planning process in the meantime.
What Should Your COVID-19 Safety Plan Include?
Your COVID-19 Safety Plan needs to clearly document how you plan to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in your workplace, including:
- How your workplace is organized and arranged, for example desk spacing in an office
- Specific activities and processes intended to make your workplace as safe as possible, such as work-from-home policies
- How you clean, sanitize, and manage physical distancing for staff and customers
- How changes and precautions will be communicated to everyone at the workplace, including customers and other non-staff
Creating Your Safety Plan
WorkSafeBC published comprehensive resources for businesses thinking about reopening after mid-May. These include:
- General and industry-specific guidelines for businesses included in Phase 2 of the BC Restart Plan.
- A COVID-19 Safety Plan development tool to help businesses develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan. The fillable PDF takes you through a six-step process to help you create a plan and post it at your worksite.
- Returning to safe operation FAQs
- COVID-19: What workers should expect when returning to work
WorkSafeBC will not review or approve Safety Plans. However, it must be posted at the worksite. During a WorkSafeBC inspection, employers will also be asked about the steps they have taken to protect their workers or to see the plan if it has been developed.
Learn about WorkSafeBC inspections during COVID-19.
Step 1: Start Planning
Prepare your business to safely reopen by first:
- Reading the latest Provincial Health guidelines for how to prevent the spread of COVID-19
- Visiting the WorkSafeBC website for up-to-date instructions and industry-specific guides
- Contacting your industry association to see if they have any guidelines and templates
Step 2: Develop Your Plan
The easiest way to build your plan is to work through the following:
Assess the risk of reopening
You don't have to reopen your business. You should only reopen if you can do it safely. For example, if your staff can continue to work from home that may be a better option than reopening your office.
To help you make this decision:
- Follow WorkSafeBC recommendations
- Involve frontline workers, supervisors, and joint health and safety committees
- Identify places, equipment, processes, and other aspects of your workplace where there is a risk of transmitting COVID-19
Reduce the risk to workers and customers
If you determine you can open safely, take steps to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Follow WorkSpaceBC guidelines and any specific industry guidelines and recommendations.
Physical distancing: Consider rotating shifts and enabling some staff to work remotely; removing common areas, spacing out desks, and reconfiguring the workplace in other ways; and implementing partitions, signage, and other measures that ensure everyone—staff, customers and visitors—can easily remain 6ft apart.
Cleaning and hygiene: Implement a cleaning schedule; ensure staff are trained in how COVID-19 is spread and how to reduce the risk of transmission; and provide adequate handwashing and hand sanitizer stations.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE): Where physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as hair salons and other personal services, consider requiring masks, gloves, and/or other PPE for staff (and potentially customers).
3. Communicate Your COVID-19 Safety Plan
Effectively communicating your Safe Plan is the key to both its success, and the success of your business after reopening.
Onboard employees: Ensure your staff receive training in how COVID-19 is spread and the new processes and measures you expect them to follow. Provide easy access to your Safety Plan and related policies. Your Safety Plan must be posted in the workplace.
Onboard customers: Although most of your customers will by now be familiar with physical distancing and good hygiene, you still need to effectively communicate any processes they need to follow in your restaurant, store, or other business. This can be done through signage and by training staff to help customers navigate the "New Normal" in your workplace.
Generate customer confidence: It's vital to earn the trust of customers as B.C. reopens. Publish your Safety Plan on your website, promote it through your social media channels, and/or summarize it in signage in your place of business. Consider your Safety Plan part of your marketing strategy.
4. Maintain and Update Your Safety Plan
Make the communication of your Safety Plan two-way. Provide an easy way for employees to quickly communicate concerns about elements of the plan that might not be working, as well as tell you what is working.
Invite feedback from customers. Ask them "How are we doing?" in person during or after a transaction, or via email, your website, and social media channels.
Keep in touch with your industry association for guidelines, tools, and templates. Update and tweak your plan as things change.