Spring Flooding Response - COVID-19 Guidelines

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, all British Columbians have a role to play in slowing its spread and minimizing its impact. That includes ensuring freshet readiness activities are conducted safely.

The following precautions should be taken at all work sites.

  • Maintain a minimum physical distance of two metres (six feet) between workers
  • Ensure adequate handwashing and washroom facilities are available
  • Ensure regular sanitizing of high-touch surfaces, including vehicles (steering wheels, gear shifts and door handles). Assign someone at the work site to make sure these important steps are taken
  • Monitor worker care, including fatigue and overheating

If a worker falls ill, ensure they do a self-assessment and follow provincial health guidelines before returning to work. Prepare for the potential that several workers could become ill at the same time. 

If you’re concerned municipal or community responders may be unavailable for flood response due to COVID-19, contact your nearest EMBC regional office for assistance.

For detailed health information on COVID-19, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

Modified Berm Building Methods

The following are suggested guidelines for berm construction to assist with physical distancing at work sites. 


Sandbag Production

Four-Chute & Two-Chute Sandbaggers

Under normal circumstances: During a typical flood season, all available chutes can be used simultaneously.

COVID-19 modifications: Half of available chutes should be used at any given time to ensure social distancing. For a four-chute machine, only two chutes should be used. For a two-chute machine, just one should be used. One person will be assigned to the front-end loader to keep the hopper full.

Chute sandbag modification. Use every other chute to keep distance.

The Spider

Under normal circumstances: During a typical flood season, all 12 chutes can be used together.

COVID-19 modifications: 

  • Only six of the 12 available chutes should be used to ensure physical distancing with a maximum number of four to five workers on each chute.
  • The volume of sand supplied to the top will need to be halved since only six chutes are being used

"Spider" sandbagging device. Shows that every other chute should not be used.

Hand-filled Sandbags

Under normal circumstances: During a typical flood season, two people can fill sandbags.

COVID-19 modifications:

  • Have one person fill one bag at a time. It may take longer, but is required to comply with directions from the Provincial Health Officer
  • In general, workers at the bagging and berm building site should keep a distance of two metres (six feet)
  • One worker places sandbags, while one worker loads the wheelbarrow and delivers sand

Sandbag Berm Construction

Small berms

Under normal circumstances: During a typical flood season, physical distancing isn’t required.

COVID-19 modifications

  • Assign tasks, e.g. one to three people loading filled bags into wheelbarrows or a compact tractor while maintaining a physical distance of two metres (six feet)
  • Have one to three people placing the bags at the berm site, also maintaining the recommended distance
  • If possible, use a compact tractor, skid steer or compact track loader to transport filled bags to the berm to reduce the number of personnel on site and provide optimal physical distancing

Large bermsLarge dike construction diagram. Work in a circle pattern and keep distance.

Under normal circumstances: During a typical flood season, physical distancing isn’t required.

COVID-19 modifications:

  • Workers form a circle, or carousel, with three to four metres in between each person
  • One worker takes a sandbag from the stockpile and moves right or left following the circular path
  • Workers keep moving in a circle until they reach the berm site and place their bag(s)

Tiger dams

Under normal circumstances: During a typical flood season, physical distancing is not required.

COVID-19 modifications:

  • If using a poly sheet, one worker rolls it out
  • A second worker follows three to four metres behind and stakes the poly
  • Remaining workers will space themselves at three to four metres and carry over a section of barrier

Gabions

Under normal circumstances: During a typical flood season, physical distancing is not required.

COVID-19 modifications:

  • Workers will unload and place gabion baskets while maintaining a physical distance of two metres (six feet)
  • While maintaining the recommended distance apart, workers will tie each of the gabion baskets together using steel wire, as well as wrap the wire edges of each basket together for additional stability
  • Fill the baskets from the top with the appropriate material with front-end loaders or other equipment

Related Links

For additional information on preparing or recovering from a flood, refer to these pages.