For instance, WorkSafeBC has a downloadable template
called the “COVID-19 Safety Plan” that gives employers everything
they need to create a plan that is in compliance with provincial
regulations. As brewers and pub and restaurant owners develop a
COVID-19 safety plan for their workplaces, it is a good opportunity
to review and fine-tune existing health and safety plans.
Refresher on effective health and safety programs
Strong health and safety programs keep workers out of harm’s
way, minimize risk and create a safe, healthy workplace. Whether
a company is large or small, every employer has a duty to protect
workers and maintain a hazard-free workplace.
Breweries, pubs and restaurants fall under provincial
legislation. Every province has an occupational health and safety
regulation act that is comprised of many sections. The onus is on
the business owners to know which sections apply and to create a
safety program that is onside with the legal requirements.
Breweries need to be mindful of sector-specific hazards and
train employees on how to get the job done safely. Some of the major
hazards for the Canadian alcohol manufacturing sector include
spills, mobile equipment, conveyor lines and confined spaces.
Confined spaces can be particularly deadly. When a winery
owner in B.C. attempted to take a sample, he fell into the
fermentation tank. A winemaker tried to save him, but also fell in
the tank. Both men died.
When a worker enters an oxygen-deficient environment, it
is not uncommon to lose consciousness within four minutes,
rendering the worker incapable of escaping. “Workers quickly
succumb in an oxygen-deficient confined space. An enclosed
space large enough for a worker to enter is definitely something
officers look for when they’re walking around doing an inspection
at a brewery or winery,” said Nielsen.
More specifically, inspection officers will be looking for
signage that identifies the confined space and indicates that
access is prohibited. If it is necessary for a worker to enter a
confined space, there must be a confined spaces safety program.
WorkSafeBC has a downloadable poster called “Confined Spaces
in Craft Breweries” with infographics that illustrate the dangers.
Employees usually know what parts of their job are hazardous.
That’s why having employees participate in the creation of the
workplace health and safety program is essential. In B.C., if
a workplace has more than 20 employees, a joint committee
is mandatory. Some of the responsibilities include identifying
situations that may be unsafe for workers and advising on effective
systems to remedy those situations.
A joint committee must also advise the employer on proposed
changes to the workplace, such as major changes to the safe
operation of equipment and machinery, or other work processes
that affect the safety of the workers.
“The committee is typically comprised of two management
personnel and two staff members from the workforce. It’s critical
to involve workers in managing health and safety programs
because who better to know what the hazards are than the
workers?” said Nielsen.
For B.C. workplaces with nine to 19 employees, an employer
is required to have a worker representative to confer with the
employees and assist with rolling out and maintaining a health
and safety program. In Ontario, small businesses or employers
with less than 20 workers can have “less formal” or simpler health
and safety programs. In general, the larger the organization,
the bigger the expectation will be for formal health and safety
programs and joint health and safety committees.
Navigating occupational health and safety acts can be
daunting. Nielsen highly recommends that businesses turn to
From coast to coast,
all employers must
place to protect
H E A LT H & S A F E T Y
44 § POURED CANADA § www.poured.ca