Since the start of the pandemic, the BC Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA) has been issuing and developing COVID-19 guidance for employers, and resources to distribute or use as the basis of toolbox talks and safety meetings.
The construction industry has adapted well with enhanced safety practices and protocols, but must continue to be vigilant.
“Although construction has done well, we can’t let our guard down. There’s been a huge push for everyone to just ‘get back to normal’ as schools are reopening and B.C. is currently in Phase Three of the reopening plan,” says Mike McKenna, BCCSA executive director. “However, the industry can’t be complacent because there’s still a way to go with COVID-19 and our new way of working. It is crucial for all employers to just keep their foot on the pedal and continue to uphold the protocols and health and safety guidelines that have been developed.”
The safety association is committed to providing the industry with up-to-date information needed to navigate these challenging times. BCCSA recently updated its general best practices when someone on site is presumed to have COVID-19.
BCCSA notes that a positive COVID-19 diagnosis is a medical diagnosis and is to be treated as having confidential medical information. The infected employee should not be identified by name as having contracted the virus, while employees and other people on site should be notified of what has been done to protect them.
What to do when someone who has been on site is presumed to have COVID-19
Follow the below procedures if someone on site meets any of the following criteria:
- Has been tested for COVID-19 in the past 10 days and the results of the test are not yet available.
- Has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days.
- Has developed symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 10 days and has not yet been tested for COVID-19.
This individual will be referred to as the “presumptive case.”
When can the presumptive case return to site?
Until COVID-19 testing results are available, the presumptive case should not be permitted back on site until they are no longer experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 AND 10 days have passed since they developed symptoms. Individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must seek testing for COVID-19.
If the test result is negative, they may be able to return to work before the end of the 10-day isolation period if they are no longer experiencing symptoms. Follow the guidance from medical professionals when available.
The presumptive case can use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool (https://bc.thrive.health/covid10/en) or call 8-1-1 for more information about testing.
If the presumptive case is hospitalized or otherwise under the care of a medical professional, they should not return to work until the medical professionals determine that it is appropriate.
How should we clean the site?
Clean and disinfect all touch-surfaces in the area where the presumptive case was present. Follow the BCCSA procedures for Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection.
If the presumptive case has tested positive for COVID-19 consider using a specialized biohazard remediation abatement company for professional disinfection.
Should other teams or workers be isolated?
Identify any individuals who have been in close contact with the presumptive case. These individuals should self-isolate for 14 days.
Close contact means:
- Provided care for the presumptive case without consistent and appropriate use of PPE.
- Lives with the presumptive case.
- Had direct contact with infectious body fluids of the presumptive case (e.g. was coughed or sneezed on)
- Had close contact (within 2 meters) with the presumptive for more than 15 minutes while the presumptive case was exhibiting symptoms or up to 48 hours before the presumptive case developed symptoms.
While awaiting testing results for the presumptive case, these close contacts may continue to work unless they develop symptoms. During this time, they should maintain physical distance (2 meters) from other workers and self-monitor for symptoms.
If the presumptive case tests positive for COVID-19 close contacts should self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days since their last contact with the case. Public Health can provide further information on what to do in the event of a positive test result.
- Wherever possible, the presumptive case’s work crew should work separately from other work crews (e.g. in a different room, on a different shift) until test results are available or, in the case of a positive test result, for 14 days after the presumptive case developed symptoms.
- If any workers who have had close or non-close contact with the presumptive case develop symptoms, then they should also be considered as presumptive cases and the steps should be repeated.
Notify all staff and any other people who were on site at the same time as the presumptive case so that they can self-monitor for symptoms.