Industrial camps are particularly at risk for transmission of COVID-19, evidenced by the 83 cases associated with the Kearl Lake Oil Sands project in Alberta. To keep employees at B.C. industrial camps safe, the Provincial Health Officer (the “PHO”) issued an order on April 23, 2020 for the operation of industrial camps during COVID-19 (the “Order”). The Order requires employers, employees and an appointed coordinator to comply with various health and safety requirements on and off site.
An ‘industrial camp’ is defined as land or premises where an employer maintains living quarters for employees. Construction sites that fall within the specified sectors listed in the Order (agricultural, aquacultural, forestry and resource sectors), such as BC Hydro’s Site C dam project, must abide by the Order.
The Order is unique in that it requires the employer to appoint a coordinator to act as a liaison between the employer and the public health officer. The coordinator must report any failure on the part of the employer or employees to the health officer. The Order also requires heightened vigilance on the part of employees to practice social distancing, requiring that employees remain in their accommodations on days when they are not required at the worksite and to seek special leave from the coordinator if they wish to visit a public establishment.
The Order is summarized in the following chart and can be found at this link:
- Develop a COVID-19 infection prevention and control protocol (the “Protocol”) and post the Protocol in a prominent place at the accommodations and the worksite
- Maintain high levels of hygiene
- Provide a rapid response if a worker develops symptoms of COVID-19, including procedures to isolate the worker, access to a health professional and notifying the health officer
- Do not permit a worker who has symptoms of COVID-19 to work
- Ensure that a worker with symptoms of COVID-19 is self-isolating and provide the support the worker needs to self-isolate
- Appoint a person as co-ordinator
- Arrange for a health officer to inspect the accommodations, worksite, and vehicles to determine if they support the prevention and control of transmission of COVID-19 and if the Protocol can be implemented
- Act as a liaison between the employer and the health officer
- Oversee the implementation of the Protocol
- Monitor the health of workers daily, keep a daily record of monitoring activities and inform the health officer if any worker exhibits symptoms
- Ensure that workers are transported in a way that limits the risk of transmission between the workers and the driver, to the extent possible
- Monitor worker compliance with the Order
- Inform the health officer of any failure to implement the Protocol on the part of the employer, or if a worker fails to comply with the requirements of the Order
- Follow the Protocol
- Follow infection prevention and control practices including diligent hand hygiene
- To the extent practical, reduce close contact with other persons by maintaining a two metre separation and avoiding shared spaces
- To the extent practical, limit the risk of transmission when travelling to and from work and between shifts
- Remain in accommodations on days when not required at the worksite
- Avoid any unnecessary visits to public establishments and only leave accommodations if approved by the coordinator or in the case of a medical emergency
- While away from accommodations: 1) maintain a distance of two metres 2) carry a mask or tissues at all times 3) if develop symptoms of COVID-19 while away from accommodations, put on the mask or cover nose and mouth with tissues and return immediately to accommodations
- Self-monitor daily for signs and symptoms of illness
- If exhibit symptoms inform the coordinator and self-isolate for 10 days, unless instructed otherwise by a health professional
As the government puts a restart plan into motion for businesses and communities in B.C., construction sites in B.C. will likely be required to operate under the PHO’s requirements for some time still. This is likely to be the case for industrial camps in particular due to the heightened risk of transmission.
For more legal analysis of how COVID may affect your business, or personal affairs, visit Clark Wilson’s COVID-19 Resource