WorkSafeBC to step up workplace inspections following B.C.’s new COVID-19 orders

As COVID-19 cases continue to spike, WorksafeBC is increasing inspections in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions to ensure businesses are complying with the latest provincial health orders. Aaron McArthur reports.

WorkSafeBC says it will step up workplace inspections and consultations to check that businesses are taking the proper steps to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The work safety organization said it is focusing on higher-risk workplaces, where workers interact with large numbers of people and come into contact with shared surfaces, and where it is difficult to maintain physical distance.

On Saturday, the province unveiled new regional public health orders to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The order banned all social gatherings with anyone not a part of one’s household in the Fraser Health and Coastal Health regions, and all indoor group physical activities and sports where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

The order also said employers need to review their COVID-19 safety plan, with a particular focus on spaces such as breakrooms and kitchens.

Read more:
‘Call RCMP or bylaws’: B.C.’s new COVID-19 orders raise questions on enforcement

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a press briefing Monday that most businesses can still operate under WorkSafeBC protocols, but employees are encouraged to work from home if they can.

Transmission has occurred in retail businesses, Henry added, but it’s been between coworkers in shared spaces like breakrooms, not between workers and customers.

Henry also said stronger protocols around group fitness are being developed.

“We thought we had adequate protocols in place,” she said. “And this is not a reflection on those businesses. It is a reflection that we are continually continuing to learn about this virus.”

WorkSafeBC said it has conducted more than 18,000 workplace inspections as of the end of October and 667 orders have been issued to employers for health and safety violations.

On Monday, the province reported 998 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths over two days, as the number of people in hospital jumped to 133, with 43 of those patients in intensive care.

— With files from Amy Judd, Simon Little and The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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