COVID-19 Precautions for Completing Contaminated Sites Assessments (Phase 1 and 2 ESAs)


Written By: Kristen Cockburn, AAg

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, Sage has adjusted our operations to ensure the safety of staff and clients. In addition to following the WorkSafeBC COVID-19 prescriptions, Sage has been developing additional tools to assist in the completion of contaminated sites assessments. 

An essential portion of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is the Site visit itself and interviews with the property owner, operator and/or tenants on the property.  In order to limit time within buildings and face to face conversations, Sage has developed pre-screening surveys to be completed by the property owner, tenant or manager in charge of on-Site operations to detail operations on the property, building details if applicable and knowledge of historical operations or features.  This will allow us to target certain features and areas in our Site assessment and limit the amount of time spent in any buildings on the property.  We may additionally request photographs of restricted access areas of buildings to reinforce the questionnaire responses and to view areas where distancing and contact requirements between Sage personnel and building occupants cannot be maintained.  We are also available to complete assessments during quieter hours within a building to limit time within the building and reduce potential contact with building occupants. 

In the case of assessments completed in residential buildings, or commercial/industrial buildings with a residential suite, we will request photos of the suite(s) and any interior building common areas, rather than enter those areas, to best protect the clients, residents and our staff.

To ensure that building features and details are not missed, additional information including building plans will be requested from municipalities or regional districts to confirm building construction details and features.

Due to facility closures, some of our usual sources for information used in a Phase I Environmental Assessment are not currently available.   We have an in-house reference library of aerial photos and have researched additional sources to ensure aerial photo coverage of the Sites and surrounding area while the Geographic Information Center at the University of British Columbia remains closed.  Sage maintains a working relationship with local museums and archives to obtain copies of available Fire Insurance Plans, and City Directories for the Site and adjacent properties without the need to access facilities. 

Currently there is no change in operations for the companies who we contract to conduct historical title searches and environmental searches. In addition, any property information and emergency response records requested from municipalities under the Freedom of Information (FOI) request process are subject to up to a 30-day turn-around time.   

Additional precautions will be taken for Phase II Environmental Site Assessments. Our own personnel and subcontractors complete a COVID-19 self-assessment tool prior to leaving home base. Other precautions include appropriate distancing from our contractors and the wearing of masks and respirators where needed.  As most investigations usually take place outside of buildings, interactions between building occupants and Sage personnel will be minimal with the usual precaution of placing physical barriers, as needed, to delineate the workspace. When investigations are required to take place within a building, Site-specific protocols and access restrictions will be developed with the client and occupants to mitigate potential exposure.  Other topics considered based on Site availability are hand washing station availability, sanitization stations, and bathroom facilities. The use of gloves and other PPE are pre-existing precautionary measures we take to protect from contaminants that may be encountered.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our services and how we can help you complete your due diligence. 


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