Q: Are committees still required to perform workplace inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: To help identify potential hazards in the workplace, the Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Act and Regulations does require committee members to conduct inspections of the entire workplace at least once every 90 days. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation.
According to Manitoba's Workplace Safety and Health Branch, if your workplace is still functioning at full capacity and workers are still performing their regular duties, you are still required to perform workplace inspections. However, because the COVID-19 virus has increased risk for everyone, your workplace must take all reasonably practicable steps to eliminate and/or minimize the additional hazard of exposure to the COVID-19 virus while conducting inspections. Some reasonably practicable steps may include practicing social distancing.
If your workplace is not functioning at full capacity, and workers are not performing their regular duties, and you are uncertain of the process that you should adopt, you should contact the Workplace Safety and Health Branch at 1-855-957-7233 for guidance.
If you are conducting inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic, committees must still present the hazards they identified and their recommendations to employers for either the elimination or control of these hazards. And, as always, it is imperative that workplace safety and health committee members receive proper training on inspections in order to perform their duties competently.
For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the Province of Manitoba website at gov.mb.ca/covid19/
For health questions or more information on respiratory illness, Manitobans can phone Health Links–Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 (toll-free).
Jack Slessor is a Prevention Consultant in the Service Portfolio at SAFE Work Manitoba.
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