British Columbia’s Minister of Labour, Harry Bains, offered some insight into provincial practices, including safety inspections, under the new WorkSafeBC pandemic guidelines released last week.
During a press conference Thursday, Minister Bains said that the BC Government has been significantly increasing the number of random safety inspections during the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to do so in an effort to ensure businesses are following health guidelines and distancing requirements.
Bains outlined that during the first month of the pandemic, WorkSafeBC conducted over 8,700 health and safety inspections – more than double the same time period in 2019. Bains also highlighted that over the course of last year, around 10,000 inspections were conducted. So far, in the first few months of 2020, they’ve already conducted over 15,000.
“This is to make sure that businesses have the best safety measures in place and consumers can trust stepping inside of them,” Bains said.
The minister added that “every business that is reopening, or has already opened, is subject to those inspections because we want to make sure there is no second wave.”
Last week, WorkSafeBC released new pandemic guidelines that serve as a safety “starting point” for businesses reopening in the food service, personal service, retail, and outdoor sectors. Bains suggested that significantly increased website traffic shows businesses are familiarizing themselves with the new safety measures as BC enters Phase Two of its COVID-19 Restart Plan.
The Minister of Labour did stress that many businesses are unique and the WorkSafeBC guidelines aren’t always applicable to every business.
“The guidelines were never intended as a silver bullet, one size fits all solution,” said Bains.
With WorkSafeBC increasing safety inspections, with businesses showing they can adapt to changing conditions and with the guidelines serving as a pandemic playbook, Bains feels the province is in a position to lead Canada’s COVID-19 recovery efforts.
“It’s that pioneering resilience and entrepreneurial spirit that has always defined the west as the best. BC will continue as a leader and recovery is on its way.”
Prior to the pandemic BC had the best unemployment rate across Canada and was experiencing strong economic growth. Minister Bains feels that we will be able to revive the provincial economy to its former state and once again become a national leader, however, he cautioned that it will take patience.
“This restart isn’t simply a matter of flipping a switch, it is more like turning up the dial,” said the Minister of Labour. “It’s not a return to normal, but it is a hopeful, careful, thoughtful step forward to find our new normal.”
Any businesses with questions surrounding the new WorkSafeBC pandemic policies are encouraged to reach out the Province.