Guidance to mining and smelting operations during COVID‐19

As the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic continue to shift, the B.C. government and B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO), Dr. Bonnie Henry, are taking unprecedented measures to slow the transmission of COVID‐19.

On March 16, 2020, Dr. Henry issued an order under the BC’s Public Health Act prohibiting gatherings in excess of 50 people.

On March 18, 2020, the Chief Inspector of Mines (CIM) communicated to all major mines, sand and gravel, and placer operations in B.C. with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further to this guidance, and considering direction from the provincial health officer and Emergency Management BC, all mines and smelters are to take additional precautions to minimize the risks of COVID-19 transmission and illness for their employees. While mine sites are not considered to be gatherings of more than 50 people, the following direction is provided for day-to-day production and site operations:

  • Reduce the number of on-site personnel by encouraging work from home where feasible.
  • Daily pre-shift safety meetings (toolbox meetings) affecting more than 50 people are to be held in smaller numbers or via other media.
  • In-person town hall meetings used to address the whole site must be avoided for groups of more than 50 people. Communication should continue in smaller groups or via other media.
  • There should be no more than 50 people in the same space in any circumstance, this includes common areas in bunkhouses and cafeterias.
  • Where possible, employees should maintain a distance of 2 metres apart from each other. This is just as important outside of work hours as it is during work.
  • Post signage that limits the number of occupants in any elevator to four people at a time.
  • Reduce in‐person meetings and gatherings and hold site meetings in open spaces or outside, where feasible.
  • Increase the number of handwashing stations and post signage that identifies their location.
  • Maintain a list of employees that are currently working on-site and update this list daily.
  • All common areas and surfaces are to be cleaned as needed and at the end of each shift. Examples include washrooms, shared offices, common tables, desks, light switches, and door handles.
  • Anyone with COVID‐19-like symptoms such as sore throat, fever, sneezing, or coughing must self‐isolate at home for 14 days.
  • Anyone who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate at home for 14 days.
  • Any visitors must be essential to the mine site’s operation.

These requirements also pertain to transportation to and from mines. All employees are reminded to follow orders of the PHO issued to citizens of BC regarding social distancing when off site.

Employers should reassess their work environment every day and keep up to date with the information posted on the Province’s website: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19

The B.C. government is doing everything it can to help contain the spread of COVID-19, and the safety of British Columbians remains its top priority.

Learn More:
For more information on the COVID-19 response, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19

This was sent to industry on behalf of Hermanus Henning, Chief Inspector of Mines, and George Warnock, Executive Lead, Authorizations, related to COVID-19.  Any questions can be directed to George Warnock at 778 675-5228 or [email protected]a or Herman Henning at 250 419-8659 or [email protected].