COVID-19 Practice Advice and Guidance

Engineers and Geoscientists BC recognizes the significant impact that COVID-19 is having on our registrants and their ability to practice. To help support registrants in understanding their professional obligations at this time, Engineers and Geoscientists BC has developed the following key recommendations and reminders:

  • 1. Will Engineers and Geoscientists BC be mandating remote work for its registrants?

    Where possible, we recommend that all registrants follow the Provincial Health Officer’s Orders and Notices as well as the guidelines set forth by the BC Centre for Disease Control and WorkSafe BC in relation to COVID-19. Many engineering and geoscience consultants and employers have already implemented and facilitated “work from home” protocols, however, we understand that this may not always be possible in those cases where registrants are providing essential services, vital to protecting the health and safety of the public and the environment during this time.

  • 2. What are Engineers and Geoscientists BC's expectations for remote workers?

    We recommend that all registrants follow the Provincial Health Officer’s Orders and Notices as well as the guidelines set forth by the BC Centre for Disease Control and WorkSafe BC in relation to COVID-19. When remote work protocols are implemented, it is expected that those protocols fully comply with the established standard of practice for the engineering or geoscience services being provided, including adherence to the intent of the quality management and professional practice guidelines published by Engineers and Geoscientists BC.

    The quality management guideline on Direct Supervision may be of interest and benefit for registrants as it outlines the professional requirements and limitations regarding the delegation of professional activities.

  • 3. Are Engineering and Geoscience Essential Services?

    The BC Government has released a comprehensive list of essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This list covers many of the specific services that engineers and geoscientists provide.

    Engineers are specifically listed as essential service providers, however it is important to note that engineers are employed in many areas within and outside of the practice of engineering, and therefore not all services provided by engineers are necessarily essential.

    There may be services carried out by engineers and geoscientists that are not explicitly defined as essential in this list; however, they may still be paramount to protecting the health and safety of the public and the environment. In these situations, engineers and geoscientists must adapt their services and workplace to adhere to the orders and recommendations of the Public Health Officer.

  • 4. What if my job and professional obligations require me to leave my home?

    Registrants must continue to meet the requirements of the Code of Ethics, including “Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public, the protection of the environment and promote health and safety in the workplace”. With that said, all registrants must comply with the COVID-19 guidance and directives of the BC Provincial and Federal Government, including adhering to the provisions for “social distancing” both in personal and professional practices.

    This guidance is subject to change, and it is the registrant’s responsibility to be aware of the latest guidance from public health authorities. Where completion of professional work with proper social distancing is not possible, registrants should work with clients, employers, and other stakeholders to assess and address the project, personal, and public risks and impacts of delaying or continuing with the work, while holding paramount the requirement to protect public health. This may include modification of work plans and procedures to facilitate a safer working environment with respect to COVID-19, including the use of personal protective equipment.

  • 5. Can I still conduct field reviews?

    Engineers and Geoscientists BC recommends that registrants work with their clients, employers, and other project stakeholders to determine the most appropriate course of action for their project, while adhering to the required social distancing and provincial health and safety guidelines.

    Quality Management Guidelines such as Documented Field Reviews and Direct Supervision provide guidance on a professional’s responsibility when it comes to documenting and providing field reviews, and what may be appropriate to delegate in case this route is chosen to minimize extensive travel to site and thus exposure to unnecessary additional personal contact.

  • 6. How can I sign and seal documents remotely?

    Registrants who currently have signing and sealing permission under the Engineers and Geoscientists Act can also choose to use an electronic version of their seal in conjunction with digital certificate technology, so that the documents can be transmitted electronically in a secure fashion. The use of digital seal technology provides encryption that indicates the authenticity of a document. Once this encryption has been applied, the document is considered signed, sealed, and dated as per the information on the encryption. This allows documents to be sent electronically in a single step.

    For more information on how to obtain the digital signature and electronic seal technology, visit the Engineers and Geoscientists BC section of the Notarius website.

  • 7. How should I submit documents to Authorities Having Jurisdiction?

    It is our understanding that some authorities having jurisdiction are altering their submission protocols, given the current COVID-19 situation. Please contact the relevant authority having jurisdiction directly to find out more information.

  • 8. Should the air exchanges and/or air filtration of the HVAC system in my office/health care facility/home be increased or modified?

    Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems should not be modified without assessment and involvement by an appropriately qualified and experienced engineering professional. Appropriately designed and operated HVAC systems may have the ability reduce the airborne concentration of pathogens and microorganisms, and therefore lower the risk of transmission through the air. While research is ongoing, there is uncertainty about how COVID-19 is transmitted. The BC CDC should be consulted for up to date statements and guidance from health experts.

    HVAC systems, or any engineered building systems, should not be modified without consultation with an appropriately experienced and qualified engineering professional. HVAC systems are technical and custom designed for the building and spaces that they serve; any system modifications done by a person who does not understand the system and how it affects other building systems could end up doing more harm than good and could negatively impact health & safety, air quality, building air pressure/balance, performance/operation of the HVAC equipment, etc.

    Despite best intensions, examples of modifications that may negatively affect the performance of the HVAC and other building systems include:

    • changing existing air filters for higher efficiency air filters;
    • enclosing or partitioning rooms with temporary or permanent means;
    • changing fan speeds, adding supply/exhaust fans;
    • adding integrated filtration units;
    • blocking diffusers, grilles or altering existing airflows; and
    • altering the programming of system controls.

    As such, alterations to HVAC or other building systems should only be done in consultation with an appropriately qualified and experienced engineering professional.

    ASHRAE provides guidance on the design, operation, and maintenance of HVAC systems to help reduce the dangers of pathogen transmission through the air in these settings. Engineering professionals should consult the latest guidance from ASHRAE regarding COVID-19.

  • 9. Where can I get more information on COVID-19?

    Engineers and Geoscientists BC expects registrants to make safe and educated decisions when it comes to the continuation of work during these unprecedented times. As the situation continues to develop, we encourage all registrants to regularly check the following COVID-19 resources: