The BCNU supports the use of the precautionary principle in health care facilities to minimize potential risks of exposure and transmission of COVID-19. It is important that BCNU members understand their Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) rights in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak as well as engineering and administrative controls, and the types of PPE available to minimize risk of exposure and transmission.
All workers in BC have the overall right to a safe workplace. Specifically, you have:
The right to know about the hazards and controls in the workplace
The right to participate in OH&S activities
The right to refuse unsafe work if an undue hazard is present
The right to no discrimination for participating in OH&S activities
You have the right to know about COVID-19 risks, what the employer has done to protect you from COVID-19, and what you must do to protect yourself from COVID-19.
Your employer must provide you with education, training and supervision to work safely with, and in proximity to, COVID-19.
A comprehensive, site specific exposure control plan (ECP) based on the precautionary principle for COVID-19 is required at every workplace in accordance with Section 5.54 and Section 6.34 of the OH&S Regulation.
You must ensure that you are comfortable applying the information, education and training provided to you to do your work safely. Don’t hesitate to ask your employer questions or ask to be re-trained if anything is unclear.
The employer is legally required to investigate the reported unsafe condition and ensure that any necessary corrective action is taken without delay in accordance with Section 3.10 of the OH&S Regulation:
3.10 Reporting unsafe conditionsWhenever a person observes what appears to be an unsafe or harmful condition or act the person must report it as soon as possible to a supervisor or to the employer, and the person receiving the report must investigate the reported unsafe condition or act and must ensure that any necessary corrective action is taken without delay.
An unsafe condition might be not knowing how to access appropriate PPE for a work process, not having the training to use the PPE correctly or not being instructed in the facility’s exposure control plan for COVID-19.
You have the right to participate in OH&S activities in the workplace. You could participate in COVID-19 planning by:
Requesting education and training on the effective use of engineering and administrative controls and PPE (if not provided yet).
Requesting that your fit testing is up to date if you require use of an N-95 at work.
Following policies and procedures that have been communicated to you to minimize risk of exposure.
Asking questions about any information provided that is unclear (or not provided) by your employer.
Provide feedback to your employer on ways to improve existing controls and suggestions for additional controls.
Keep your BCNU Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee member and/or site steward involved and up to date.
Report all workplace incidents to your employer via Workplace Health Call Centre, PSLS, verbal conversations and follow up emails.
To report a workplace incident that impacted you physically, psychologically or emotionally, please call the Workplace Health Call Center at 1-866-922-9464. Time spent reporting workplace incidents is considered time worked for the employer and therefore you must be paid at the applicable rate of pay.
Learn more about your right to refuse unsafe work.
You have the right to no discrimination for participating in OH&S activities at work including enacting your right to refuse. Please contact a BCNU steward or JOHS rep immediately if you are concerned that this right is being violated.
Speak to someone between the hours of 0900 - 1700, Monday to Friday.
Or call toll-free 1-800-663-9991
All workers in BC have the right to a safe workplace. It's important to understand your health and safety rights whenever you are concerned about workplace hazards or health risks.
Flowchart: Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
COVID-19: Guide for Members
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