WorkSafe BC has been busy conducting random inspections of businesses amid B.C.’s COVID-19 reopening plan, with 70 inspections taking place in the Okanagan in the past 10 days.
Since May 19, eight of those inspections were conducted at restaurants.
Across B.C., 100 inspections have taken place in restaurants between May 19 and May 28, making up approximately 20 per cent of total inspections.
To date, there have been no orders or penalties issued.
According to Ivy Yuen with WorkSafe BC, the primary purpose of conducting inspections is to ensure that employers are assessing risks and implementing measures to prevent exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
“Our current approach is to verify that the COVID-19 safety plan has been created and implemented and to consult with employers on potential gaps or improvements. Enforcement steps may be necessary in circumstances where the employer has not completed a safety plan, and despite an opportunity to complete it, has not done so,” said Yuen.
If a business doesn’t comply with an order in time it can lead to sanctions, explained Yuen.
“The amount of a penalty is based on the size of the employer’s payroll, the nature of the violation, and an employer’s history of violations,” she said. “The primary purpose of penalties is to motivate the employer receiving the penalty, and other employers, to comply with occupational health and safety legislation and regulation, and to keep their workplaces safe.”
Yuen said that there isn’t an exact number of warnings handed out to businesses before it receives an order or penalty. Instead, there are many contributing factors and things to consider before administering potential orders and penalties.
WorkSafe BC would rather work with employers to educate and consult with them to ensure they have a safety plan for both customers and employees, according to Yuen.
The Kelowna Capital News recently received an email from a resident stating they had visited a local establishment and that WorkSafe BC was conducting an inspection at the time. The resident claimed the restaurant received a warning for not enforcing social distancing between customers.
WorkSafeBC would not confirm if the warning was given and therefore the Capital News is not naming the establishment.
However, Yuen did say if an employer does not comply with an order in time, a penalty could be considered.
The statutory maximum penalty amount in 2020 is $674,445.93.
“This maximum is set out in legislation and is adjusted in January of each year,” stated Yuen.
In 2019, WorkSafe BC imposed 445 penalties totalling approximately $9.6 million in fines.