Okanagan wineries taking pandemic seriously: WorkSafeBC


Wineries get thumbs up

WorkSafeBC is giving BC Interior wineries the thumbs up for their COVID-19 safety plans.

The provincial government agency conducted an on-site inspection blitz between May 10 and June 4.

The inspections and consultations confirmed that up-to-date COVID-19 safety plans were in place and implemented effectively, and controls are implemented to protect workers from COVID-19 transmission.

Officers were deployed to conduct on-site inspections, and occupational health and safety consultants contacted additional employers by phone to review employers’ obligations and COVID-19 safety plans. The focus was on key measures including occupancy limits, ensuring worker health checks designed to prevent sick workers entering workplaces are implemented, enforcing social distancing practices, and using barriers and masks where required.

The inspections focused on wineries, cideries, and craft breweries with tasting rooms:

  • Two prevention officers participated in the initiative
  • 48 inspections were conducted
  • 32 consultations were conducted
  • 100% of the inspections were conducted on-site
  • All inspections and consultations were conducted in the interior health region
  • 2% of inspections resulted in orders – two total orders were issued

WorkSafeBC’s guidelines for reopening restaurants released

Restaurant rules published

Dining out in British Columbia restaurants may look a little different once restaurants and pubs start to reopen their doors next week.

On Friday, WorkSafeBC released its industry-specific guidelines for businesses planning to reopen next week, including those for restaurants, pubs and cafes. Restaurants must publicly post their COVID-19 safety plan, but WorkSafe specifically notes that businesses “do not need a formal plan in place to begin operation, but are expected to develop it while protecting the safety of your workers.”

The most important guidelines revolve around maintaining physical distance between customers, which means having a maximum of six guests at each table and ensuring there is two metres between tables.

While recommendations by the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association included the possibility of using plexiglass barriers between tables, this has not been mentioned in WorkSafe guidelines, although a barrier at the bar and pay stations is recommended.

The BCRFA also brought up the possibility of employees wearing masks and gloves, but WorkSafe’s guidelines only say employers “may consider the use of masks” if maintaining a two-metre distance from other workers and guests is not possible.

And while it probably goes without saying, the guidelines recommend avoiding handshakes, fist bumps and high-fives with customers.

Rather than have reusable menus that one could contract the virus from, WorkSafe recommends using large digital or chalkboard menus that can be seen from all tables, or consider using disposable menus.

Additionally, things like communal salt and pepper shakers should be removed from tables, and guests should do things like distribute their food around the table when it comes and pour their own water.

Enhanced cleaning procedures, especially in high-touch areas, is also referenced repeatedly in the guidelines.

The full list of guidelines can be found on WorkSafeBC’s website here, although the site has had some issues loading Friday, likely due to increased traffic.

WorkSafeBC releases reopen guidelines for businesses

COVID guidelines released

WorkSafeBC has published industry specific guidelines for businesses to reopen as a part of phase two of the provincial government’s restart plan, which goes into place on Tuesday.

“Every employer is required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that assesses the risk of exposure at their worksite and implements measures to keep their workers safe,” says Al Johnson, head of prevention services at WorkSafeBC.

“We’ve developed both general and industry-specific materials in consultation with industry and labour stakeholders to ensure they are practical and understandable for workplaces in each sector.”

Industry-specific guidelines and resources are now available for the following sectors:

  • Restaurants, cafes, pubs
  • Salons and personal services
  • Real estate
  • Arts and cultural facilities (Museums, art galleries, and libraries)
  • Retail
  • Education K-12
  • Parks and outdoor spaces
  • Health services
  • In-person counselling
  • Office space

WorkSafe says guidelines for child care and recreation and sports will be available in the coming days.

The guidelines can be found on WorkSafeBC’s website, which was working only intermittently at the time this story was published.

Employers will not need to submit their safety plan for review or approval, but WorkSafeBC prevention officers will, however, begin a “province-wide verification and inspection initiative” to make sure they are in place.

“The planning process should involve workers for their input to ensure their concerns are heard and addressed,” said Johnson.

WorkSafe says it is starting work on the guidelines for the next phase of reopening plan.

Workers and employers with questions or require additional assistance in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission can call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line at 1-888-621-7233.