B.C.’s top doctor limits staff increases at five industrial worksites
Rising case counts related to the projects have led to transmissions in nearby communities.
An order by British Columbia’s top doctor requires five major industrial projects in the Northern Health region to limit how many staff are allowed to return to work in the next two months in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Dec. 29 order by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says rising case counts related to the projects have led to transmissions in nearby communities, while straining the capacity of local health-care systems.
It says many workers are housed in camps and close contact between large numbers of people living or working together is tied to increased spread of COVID-19, along with the risk of people developing serious illness.
The order covers two projects in Kitimat: LNG Canada’s construction of its liquefied natural gas export terminal and the twinning of a tunnel for Rio Tinto’s aluminum smelter.
The directive from Henry also includes construction on the Site C dam and the Coastal GasLink and Trans Mountain pipelines.
Henry’s order limits the number of staff allowed to return to each site and outlines steps the employer must take before more workers are allowed.
“The risk of an outbreak of COVID-19 arising from the mass return of large numbers of workers to worksites and industrial camps associated with the projects constitutes a health hazard under the Public Health Act,” the order reads.
The Northern Health Authority has confirmed just over 2,000 cases of COVID-19 to date, including nearly 600 that remain active and 27 deaths.