Welcome back to BCIT
BCIT is planning for safe and supportive on-campus education this fall. In line with the BC Public Health Officer guidelines, BCIT is currently planning for a substantial level of on-campus activity for the fall 2021 term.
The BCIT COVID-19 Go-Forward Plan outlines the high level risk factors department and school programs must adhere to and which forms the foundation of their Safety Plan. We have also prepared an Executive Summary of the BCIT COVID-19 Go-Forward Plan and an interactive infographic of the Go-Forward Plan that provides our community with a visual and easy-to-understand overview on the key health and safety guidelines outlined in the Plan.
The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training has released a new edition of the COVID-19 Go-Forward Guidelines for BC’s Post-Secondary Sector to help post-secondary institutions operate safely while minimizing the risks associated with COVID-19. BCIT’s own Go-Forward Plan was developed to reflect the guidelines provided by the Province of BC.
Return to Work and Campus Information
We are implementing guidelines for any employee working alone or in isolation to ensure that safe work protocols are addressed on campus.
As defined by WorkSafeBC’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 4.20.1, an employee is determined to be working alone or in isolation if working in circumstances where assistance would not be readily available, specifically:
- In case of an emergency, or
- In case of injury or ill health
In order to determine whether or not assistance is readily available, the following conditions should be considered:
- Presence of others: Are other people in the vicinity?
- Awareness: Will others capable of providing assistance be aware of the worker’s need?
- Willingness: Is it reasonable to expect assistance will be provided?
- Timeliness: Will assistance be provided within a reasonable period of time?
Providing employees with electronic means of communication, such as a phone, radio, or personal alarm, does not guarantee that the condition of “assistance that is readily available” has been met. If an employee cannot be seen or heard by persons capable of providing assistance in a timely manner, then they should be regarded as working alone or in isolation.
If you are unclear if you are considered to be working alone, please contact your supervisor.
A written procedure for checking the well-being of employees assigned to work alone or in isolation by their supervisor must be developed and implemented, including:
- At minimum, a check-in at the beginning and at the end of the shift, when working alone.
- High risk activities will require shorter time intervals between checks, where, for example, there is a greater risk of injury.
- Procedures for checking an employee’s well-being, including time intervals between the checks, to be developed in consultation with the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC) and with the employee assigned to work alone or in isolation.
- Check-ins may be by email, text or phone call.
The recommended tool for the check-in is the Working Alone Notification form:
- Consistent information is gathered by the form. Once the form is complete and submitted by the employee, a notification will be sent to your supervisor automatically by email, with a copy sent to you, so that you have a record of the information submitted.
- An automatic reminder, triggered by a rule that is embedded in the form will be sent to the employee to check-out at the end of the work day.
- For more information please refer to the Working Alone ShareSpace.
The requirements of Occupational Health and Safety Regulation section 4.20.2 apply only when an employee is assigned to work alone or in isolation, including when:
- The direction or expectation is to work during a scheduled or predetermined period of time, such as a specified work shift or a specified portion of a work shift. During that time, it is anticipated or expected that the employee will be working alone or in isolation.
- Employees who work alone or in isolation for short or intermittent periods of time without being directed to do so are not considered to have been “assigned” to work alone. For example, an employee in most office and similar work settings, where other employees are normally present during their work hours, is not considered to be assigned to work alone or in isolation if, for example, the employee decides to come in early, work late, or come in on a day off when other employees are not present.
While an employee may choose to work alone and this is permitted by the employer, the employee is not considered to have been assigned to work alone. Even though the provisions of sections 4.20.2 to 4.23 would not apply, employers still have the obligation to ensure the health and safety of these employees.
- The general duties of employers to employees under section 21 of the Workers Compensation Act apply, including the duty to ensure the health and safety of all employees working for that employer.
- Where employees are permitted to work alone outside of their regular assigned working hours, the employer must perform a risk assessment relating to the hazards the employee may be exposed to while working alone, and take the necessary measures to ensure the employee’s safety.
- These measures may include the Working Alone Notification tool as well other procedures that support the employee’s health and safety. More information regarding how to perform this risk assessment can be found here.
Check-in/out – Follow-up protocol
If an employee misses a check-in then the supervisor would be directed to:
- Try to contact the employee, and if the employee can’t be contacted within a short time frame, e.g. 15 minutes, then security will be notified.
- If security can’t locate the employee within a reasonable time frame, e.g. 30 minutes, then the supervisor will be notified, at that point the supervisor should:
- Follow up with the employee’s personal phone or family, or
- If the employee is still not located, the police may be contacted.
- SSEM should be notified of the outcome, by contacting BCIT_Safety_and_Security@bcit.ca
COVID-19 cleaning note
After a space has been used, including shared office space, theatres, classrooms, labs, shops, and student meeting rooms, then faculty and staff are requested to generate a Facilities Work Request for cleaning after the space has been vacated.
- Faculty are asked to submit on behalf of any students who may have been using a space.
- The Facilities Work Request will activate BCIT’s Custodial Contractor to sanitize and disinfect surfaces before the next occupancy.
If you have any questions please contact SSEM at BCIT_Safety_and_Security@bcit.ca.
As you may have seen in the video posted on Friday, June 5, our OHS and Academic teams have been working closely together to carefully transition a select number of programs back to campus to complete required hands-on components to comply with student credential requirements. Such requests, which come to us through the Associate Deans, require a thorough risk assessment to identify measures that will be required to ensure physical distancing, availability and use of appropriate PPE, increased hand hygiene and ensures all facilities, equipment, and supplies are thoroughly sanitized much more frequently and between use periods. The video tour of the carpentry program provides an excellent example of these measures and I hope you’ll take time watch it.
Another fundamentally important component of keeping our community safe both on- and off-campus is self-care and self-assessment. It is critically important that we all monitor our health carefully to help ensure we don’t inadvertently spread COVID-19 to others. If you have symptoms, please stay home. Don’t risk your own or others’ health by ignoring symptoms. Below are a few things you should consider daily:
If you have any cold or flu-like symptoms, please stay home and self-isolate. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses including Influenza and the common cold, and include:
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat and painful swallowing
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Loss of sense of smell
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
Sometimes people with COVID-19 have mild illness, but their symptoms may suddenly worsen in a few days. People infected with COVID-19 may also experience symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting a few days after the onset of the above symptoms. If you have only gastrointestinal symptoms you may not have COVID-19.
If you have these symptoms, do not go to work, campus, or public areas, do not use public transport or taxis.
You can access the BC Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 Assessment Tool here.
Testing is recommended for anyone with cold, flu or COVID-19-like symptoms, even mild ones. You can now be assessed for COVID-19 testing by a healthcare provider or at a BC Collection Centre. Please call ahead before visiting a healthcare facility to explain your symptoms.
If you test positive and have had contact with BCIT students or colleagues, please contact your Manager.
If you test positive, please isolate for 14-days or until you are cleared by your physician or the Public Health Officer. Do not return to your workplace during this isolation period.
If you have questions regarding this process, please visit the BC Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 information page.
It is critically important that we all take care of ourselves and each other through this pandemic and follow the directions of the Public Health Officer, BC Centre for Disease Control, and our own OHS team.
We’d like to remind everyone in our community of the importance of maintaining your well-being and mental health. Confidential counselling resources are always available and are so important at this time. Counselling services for faculty and staff can be accessed 24/7 through Homewood Health by calling 1-800-663-1142. Counselling services for students are available through BCIT Student Counselling by calling 604-432-8608.