WorkSafeBC inspections expected to focus on education rather than punishment

WorkSafeBC says inspectors will be dropping in one businesses to enforce provincial guidelines as early as next week.

But the plan is to focus on education rather than shutting down businesses without a proper COVID-19 plan.

“We are going to start off small, but by this time next week you are going to start seeing inspectors on worksites,” head of prevention services for WorkSafeBC Al Johnson said.

“Our inspections will be a soft sell approach. We will start with calls. We have prevention officers that will be assigned to these sites. Slowly we will get them but we will not get to all of them.”

Labour Minister Harry Bains is scheduled to hold a press conference on Thursday to discuss the WorkSafeBC sector guidelines relating to B.C.’s restart plan.

Businesses are required to post a COVID-19 plan so employees and the public can understand how their safety is being protected.

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Anyone hoping to operate under Phase 2 of the province’s re-opening plan must be able to follow the guidelines provided by WorkSafeBC.

“We are looking at some of the higher-risk areas that we know of, like some of the processing plants, meat processing plants, fruit and vegetable, places like that,” Henry said.

“If you’re an employee who has concerns, then you should talk to WorkSafeBC because WorkSafeBC has inspectors who are able to follow up on those as well.”

Provincial environmental health officers are also working to ensure guidelines are followed. The officers normally focus on things like restaurant inspections to ensure that food is safe.

As a member of the public if you have concerns about safety in a business, whether it’s a nail salon or a restaurant, then you can complain to your local public health and they will do inspections.

There are different levels of public health inspections and, as with WorkSafeBC, the goal is to take an educational approach.

“Our first line of action is not to find people and shut them down. It’s to ensure that they are taking the necessary actions that we need to keep people safe,” Dr. Henry said.

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