Province to conduct random inspections as businesses re-open

Inspections will take place across sectors, and penalties could be issued if re-opening rules are not followed

Part of a free WorkSafeBC poster available to employers preparing to welcome employees back to work | WorkSafeBC

What happened: B.C. Minister of Labour Harry Bains said Thursday that the province has a review and inspection regime in place to ensure businesses follow WorkSafeBC and Provincial Health Officer guidelines around the economy's restart.

Why it matters: That plan includes random inspections, and Bains urged businesses across the province to devise their own re-opening plans based off of provincial guidelines to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers.

Businesses across sectors should expect random inspections as they prepare to re-open under the province's restart plan.

"The inspections are for all businesses that are re-opening," said B.C. Minister of Labour Harry Bains.

Inspections will be to ensure that businesses opening and preparing to open are following guidelines published by WorkSafeBC and the Provincial Health Officer. This will include inspections of restaurants and salons, as well as factories, manufacturers and service providers.

Bains said he expects most businesses will comply with the guidelines that are in place, but that provisions have been made for penalties. 

"I think our preference would be to work with them, because this is not normal," he said.

In the first six months of 2020, the province has conducted more than 15,000 inspections – up 50% from the 10,000 inspections conducted in all of 2019.

On Thursday, Bains urged businesses to develop their own processes and safety plans based off of provincial guidelines.

“The guidelines were never intended as a silver bullet, one-size-fits-all solution," he said. "[Businesses] need to devise their own guidelines that suit their needs. I think they need to ensure that their customers have the confidence to come and patronize their businesses. That their workers feel safe to go to work.”

A number of non-essential businesses across sectors have the ability to re-open their doors this week, provided they have taken steps to ensure the health and safety of customers and employees.

Bains said WorkSafeBC has seen a surge of interest in the province's guidelines. The organization's guidelines and COVID-19 resources page recently registered more than 524,000 views – a 440% increase week-over-week.

The minister also reported that WorkSafeBC has increased the number of prevention officers working public information phone lines to 26, increasing call capacity by 225%.

Bains will participate in a public townhall discussion on workplace safety May 21 at 7:15 p.m.