COVID-19 Phase 2: WorkSafeBC inspections to focus on education, not punishment

Click to play video: 'Enhanced COVID-19 enforcement protocols'
Enhanced COVID-19 enforcement protocols
B.C.'s Phase 2 restart plan includes enhanced protocols developed to allow businesses to operate safely but there are questions about who will enforce the rules if staff and customers don't follow the guidelines. Richard Zussman reports. – May 19, 2020

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.”

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‘Today’s an important milestone for our province’: B.C’s top doctor on reaching Phase 2 of COVID-19 pandemic

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.

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

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

“It’s the accountability to the public, to be able to see what people are doing, to your employees, that they know the measures that you’re taking,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

“That is where the accountability is.”

Inspections will take place based on priority. WorkSafeBChas 300 inspectors who will continue to be responsible for existing concerns as well as the new guidelines.

Click to play video: 'WorkSafeBC releases guidelines for major sectors re-opening next week'
WorkSafeBC releases guidelines for major sectors re-opening next week

“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.

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“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.

READ MORE: WorkSafeBC releases guidelines for major sectors re-opening next week

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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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