Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated: March 26, 2020

A new coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, is the cause of an outbreak of respiratory infections. The number of cases worldwide is changing quickly. B.C. has a small number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, however, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control, the risk to Canadians continues to be low.

HealthLinkBC’s website has information about COVID-19, including how it is transmitted, symptoms and precautions individuals can take to prevent infection.

VRCA and its industry partners are keeping a close watch on this issue and how it may affect B.C.’s construction sector.

How can construction companies prepare?

Safety is always a priority on job sites, and managing the risk of COVID-19 should be no exception.

While many companies are re-evaluating their work-from-home policies in preparation for what might come, it’s recognized that tradespeople can’t work from home.

As such, employers are strongly encouraged to have a clear policy regarding when workers should stay home, enforce sanitary standards in portable washrooms, and keep hand sanitizer stocked when running water isn’t available.

Employers should also provide common-sense advice about the simple actions that employees can take to reduce the risk. The most important thing individuals can do to prevent infection is to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their face.

Site safety protocols shared by VRCA member

To help member companies develop, test and improve COVID-19 response and project continuity plans, several members have agreed to share their plans and resources. The content below is organized alphabetically by company.

Bird Construction

ETRO Construction Ltd

Ledcor Construction Ltd

LMS Reinforcing Steel Group

Smith Bros. & Wilson Ltd

10 steps individuals can take to reduce the risk of infection

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Using soap and water is the single most effective way of reducing the spread of infection.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHR) to clean your hands, as long as they are not visibly soiled. If they are visibly soiled, use a wipe and then ABHR to effectively clean them.
  2. Do not touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid touching common surfaces like handles and buttons
  4. Sneeze and cough into the crease of your elbow, or cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue, then throw the tissue in the garbage.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipe.
  6. Do your part to keep the portable toilets clean.
  7. Do not share food, drinks, utensils, etc
  8. Do not share your tools or your PPE.
  9. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  10. Stay home if you are sick.

What to do if you think you have COVID-19

If you have symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing and have travelled outside Canada or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, avoid contact with others. See a health care provider as soon as possible.

If you are going to visit your health care provider, call them ahead of time so they can arrange for you to be assessed safely. Wear a mask in order to protect others. If you are unsure about what to do or have concerns or questions, contact HealthLinkBC (8-1-1) at any time or speak with your health care provider.

COVID-19 and supply chain implications in construction

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) recently hosted a webinar with industry experts on how to mitigate the supply chain risks from the novel coronavirus.

Useful websites