WorkSafeBC is an organization established by the provincial legislation, the Workers Compensation Act, RSBC 2019, c 1 (the “WCA”), and has a mandate to oversee a no-fault insurance system for workplaces in our province.
The current version of the WCA has 12 associated regulations which help define and apply the WCA. One of those regulations is called the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (the “OHS Regulation”), which applies to all employers, workers, and all persons working in or contributing to the production of any industry that falls within the scope of the occupational health and safety provisions in the WCA.
Amongst other things, the OHS Regulation sets out requirements for workplaces to have an occupational health and safety program. Health and safety policies can be included in your workplace policy and procedure manual and assist your workplace in proactively confronting workplace injuries— which can take the form or physical or psychological injuries.
Below are some commonly asked questions and answers about the requirements for workplaces in BC to have an occupational health and safety program.
Do I need an occupational health and safety program in my workplace?
Employers are required by WorkSafeBC to have an occupational health and safety program in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation if:
- they have a workforce of 20 or more workers, and at least one of the employer’s workplaces creates a moderate or high risk of injury; or,
- they have a workforce of 50 or more workers; or,
- an officer from WorkSafeBC determines that an occupational health and safety program is necessary for your workplace.
An occupational health and safety program must apply to the whole of the employer’s operations.
What if my workforce is a small operation of less than 20 workers?
If your workplace is a small operation, you must:
- initiate and maintain a less formal program based on regular monthly meetings with workers for discussion of health and safety matters,
- ensure that these meetings concern the correction of unsafe conditions and practices, and the maintenance of cooperative interest in the health and safety of the workforce; and
- maintain a record of the meetings and the matters discussed.
What should my occupational health and safety program contain in order to be in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation?
- If you are required to have an occupational health and safety program the contents of your program must be designed to prevent injuries and occupational diseases. In general, the program must include:
- a statement of the employer’s aims and the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors, and workers;
- provision for the regular inspection of premises, equipment, work methods and work practices, at appropriate intervals, to ensure that prompt action is undertaken to correct any hazardous conditions found;
- appropriate written instructions, available for reference by all workers, to supplement the OHS Regulation;
- provision for holding periodic management meetings for the purpose of reviewing health and safety activities and incident trends, and for the determination of necessary courses of action;
- provision for the prompt investigation of incidents to determine the action necessary to prevent their recurrence;
the maintenance of records and statistics, including reports of inspections and incident investigations, with provision for making this information available to the joint committee or worker health and safety representative, as applicable and, upon request, to an officer, and the workers at the workplace;and
- provision by the employer for the instruction and supervision of workers in the safe performance of their work.
The foregoing is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, please contact the author, who would be pleased to discuss the issues above with you and assist you in designing a workplace policy manual for your non-unionized workplace that is in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
Nikita Gush is an employment lawyer at Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP. She can be reached at [email protected] or 250.979.2542.