British Columbia

WorkSafeBC finds more than 1,600 violations of COVID-19 safety plans

Inspectors with WorkSafe BC have now found more than 1,550 violations of COVID-19 health and safety plans in workplaces across the province, according to the agency.  

Agency has completed more than 21,000 scheduled and spontaneous work site inspections as of Jan. 22

WorkSafe BC has issued more than 1,550 non-compliance orders related to COVID-19 safety protocols as of Jan. 22. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Inspectors with WorkSafe BC have now found more than 1,600 violations of COVID-19 health and safety plans in workplaces across the province, according to the agency.  

The numbers spiked in December, with 392 violations that month alone. 

All employers open in B.C. during the pandemic must have approved health and safety protocols in place to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 on site. The requirement has been in place since B.C. began reopening in May, after the first shutdown.

WorkSafe BC has done more than 21,800 inspections to ensure plans are in place and being followed. Inspections can be planned ahead or unannounced, and are sometimes done in response to complaints from the public.

Nearly one-third of the violation orders concerned employers in the service sector, which includes hotels, restaurants, gyms, hospitals, schools, real estate and hair salons. It also includes the film industry.

The construction industry received the next-highest number of orders at 373. The trade sector, which includes wholesale operations and supermarkets, was in third at 325.

The full breakdown of violations is as follows: 

  • Construction: 373.
  • Manufacturing: 263.
  • Primary Resources: 67.
  • Public Sector: 8.
  • Service Sector: 470.
  • Trade: 325.
  • Transportation and Warehousing: 47.

By month: 

  • July 2020: 67.
  • August: 55.
  • September: 81.
  • October: 81.
  • November: 333.
  • December: 392.
  • January 2021: 200.

The non-compliance orders from WorkSafeBC tell the employer how it must improve to avoid further penalties. Stop-work orders are an option if the violations are creating a particularly high risk. Flagrant or repeat violations can lead to fines. 

The organization said it has received 5,772 reports of potential violations as of Jan. 22.

In addition to employment enforcement, businesses and individuals who break provincial and federal COVID-19 orders outside the workplace can also be issued violation tickets. Nearly $500,000 in those violation tickets have been issued since the pandemic began, according to the province.

More than 103 tickets went to people breaking the public health order on gatherings and events, while 450 went to people who refused to listen to law enforcement investigating an issue.

A further 77 tickets were handed to people who did not comply with the federal Quarantine Act.