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FAQs - Health and Safety

Health and Safety | Registration and Assessment

How will health and safety benefit my business?

A commitment to health and safety can create a better work environment, help businesses retain good workers, and lead to greater productivity and better customer service from workers who are trained to do their jobs safely. Fewer workplace accidents can also reduce business costs such as those incurred in training temporary employees, repairing property damage, or paying WorkSafeBC fines and increased WorkSafeBC premiums.

My supervisor has asked me to perform a task I believe is dangerous. What can I do?

Workers have the right to refuse work they have reasonable cause to believe is dangerous to their health. The first thing you should do is tell your supervisor that you think the task is dangerous. Together, you and your supervisor should be able to discuss the issue and find a safe solution. If the two of you cannot find a solution, continue the discussion with a worker health and safety representative (or another worker selected by you if there is no representative). If a solution still cannot be found, you or your employer can call the WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line at 604.276.3100 in the Lower Mainland, or 1.888.621.7233 (621-SAFE) toll-free in British Columbia.

What are the minimum WorkSafeBC requirements for first aid?

The hazard rating of your worksite, the number of workers per shift, the types of injuries likely to occur and the travel time to the nearest hospital will determine what first aid service you must provide. The OHS Regulation requires that each employer conduct an assessment to determine appropriate first aid service for their worksite. Guidelines recommending appropriate levels of first aid service and a flow chart (PDF 89 KB) to guide you through the assessment are available on our website.

For example, if you determine through your assessment that your business is low risk, the Guidelines state that:

If your workplace is 20 minutes or less from a hospital:

  • For 2 - 10 workers per shift, provide a basic first aid kit
  • For 11 - 50 workers per shift, provide a level 1 first aid kit and a Level 1 first aid attendant.

If your workplace is more than 20 minutes from a hospital:

  • For 2 - 10 workers per shift, provide a basic first aid kit
  • For 6 - 30 workers per shift, provide a level 1 first aid kit and a Level 1 first aid attendant.

See also:
First aid assessment worksheet (PDF 78 KB)
Assigned Hazard Rating List
Recommended Minimum Levels of First Aid
First aid kits: Recommended Minimum Contents
Sections 3.14 - 3.21 of the OHS Regulation
Guidelines for first aid.

For more information go to the first aid website.

I recently hired a subcontractor. Am I responsible for her health and safety?

Yes, employers are responsible for the health and safety of their own workers. Employers hiring contractors or subcontractors should check with WorkSafeBC to determine their obligations regarding health and safety matters. It's also a good idea to check with WorkSafeBC to make sure the contractors or subcontractors you hire are registered with WorkSafeBC. If they aren't, your company could be liable for their insurance premiums if there's an injury or accident. A clearance letter will tell you whether a business, contractor, or subcontractor is registered with WorkSafeBC and up-to-date on their payments.

See also:
How do I get a clearance letter?

We've never had an accident at our workplace. Do we still need to set up a health and safety program?

Yes. All British Columbia workplaces, including hospitality small businesses, are required to have an occupational health and safety program. Your health and safety program will help you maintain your excellent safety record.

See also:

Effective Health and Safety Programs: the key to a safe workplace and due diligence (PDF 143 KB)
Updated: October 2005

Due dilligence checklist (PDF 29 KB)

Seven Steps to a Safer Workplace (PDF 42 KB)

Sample health and safety program (PDF 102 KB)

Monthly health and safety meeting record (PDF 95 KB)

Annual review of health and safety program (PDF 96 KB)

As an employer do I have to report all injuries?

For all work-related injuries that required medical treatment (even if the worker may not have missed time from work) you must:

  • Fill out and submit a Form 7 (Employer's Report of Injury or Occupational Disease) to WorkSafeBC Compensation Services within three days. If a first aid attendant assisted the worker, you should also complete a first aid record and submit a copy to WorkSafeBC.
  • Conduct an incident investigation to determine the cause of the incident, and provide copies of the investigation report to the worker health and safety representative (if applicable) and WorkSafeBC.

Note: For serious accidents, incidents, and injuries, you must notify WorkSafeBC immediately as defined by WCA, Division 10, Section 172, Immediate notice of certain accidents.

See also:
First aid record (PDF 19 KB)
Form 7 Employer's report of injury or occupational disease (PDF 296 KB)
Form 6A Worker's report of injury or occupational disease to employer (PDF 177 KB)
Form 6 Application for compensation & report of injury or occupational disease (PDF 340 KB)
WCA, Division 10, Section 172, Immediate notice of certain accidents

What is considered a serious accident or incident? And how do I report these?

These are accidents or incidents where employers are required by the Workers Compensation Act to immediately notify WorkSafeBC:

  • Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 1.888.621.SAFE (7233)
  • After hours (Richmond) toll-free 1.866.WCB.HELP (922.4357)

See also:
Reporting serious injuries or fatalities
WCA, Division 10, Section 172, Immediate notice of certain accidents
As an employer do I have to report all injuries?

A row of shelves fell in my store. No one was injured. Do we need to conduct an investigation?

Yes. Employers must investigate all incidents---accidents as well as near misses like this one. The purpose of conducting the investigation is to make sure the incident doesn't happen again, and no one gets hurt.

See also:
Accident investigation form

My job requires me to lift and stack heavy boxes. What is the maximum allowable lifting weight?

There is no specific maximum allowable lifting weight. However, if you are required to lift heavy boxes, the employer must ensure that you can do this task safely. This includes using proper lifting techniques and knowing when to use dollies or carts or to ask for help.

See also:
Safe lifting poster (PDF 1 MB)

Understanding the Risks of Musculoskeletal Injury (MSI): an educational guide for workers, on sprains, strains, and other MSIs (PDF 1.2 MB)
Also available in the following languages:

OH&S Regulation, Part 4, Ergonomics (MSI) Requirements, Sections 4.46 - 4.53

I often work alone at night. What do I do if I'm robbed or injured?

Your employer must have a written procedure and safeguards for working alone. Your supervisor must review these procedures with you as part of your training. These safe work procedures should be included in the health and safety program.

See also:
Take Care: How to develop and implement a workplace violence prevention program (PDF 580 KB)
Slide show: Safety for Retailers How to prevent violence 2 min 14 sec
OH&S Regulation, Part 4, Working alone or in isolation, Sections 4.21 -- 4.23
OH&S Regulation, Part 4, Violence in the workplace, Sections 4.27 -- 4.31

Can I smoke at work?

The owner or employer must control the exposure of workers to environmental tobacco smoke by prohibiting smoking in the workplace or by restricting smoking to a designated smoking area.

See also:
OH&S Regulation, Part 4, Environmental Tobacco Smoke, Sections 4.81 - 4.82
(ETS) Ventilation and the B.C. Hospitality Sector: Best practices forum (PDF 28 KB)

I only have a staff of two. Should we still have monthly health and safety meetings or is a lesser frequency adequate?

Yes, you still need to have regular monthly meetings to ensure workers have an opportunity to discuss health and safety matters and to correct unsafe conditions or procedures. As an employer, you must also keep records of the meetings and the matters discussed.

See also:
Sample monthly health and safety meeting record (PDF 95 KB)

What is WHMIS?

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) provides health and safety information on the safe use of hazardous products used in Canadian workplaces. The program is being updated to align Canada's hazard classification and communication requirements with those used in the United States and other major trading partners. The new program will be known as WHMIS 2015.

What's changing in WHMIS 2015
  • Hazard classes and categories — The classification criteria have changed. In WHMIS 2015 there are two hazard groups; physical hazards group and a health hazard group. Each group includes several hazard classes.
  • Symbols and labels — Pictograms, (graphic images) are used instead of symbols. Each pictogram is assigned to a specific hazard class or category. Pictograms will be used on product supplier labels and safety data sheets. Supplier labels will include some new information.
  • Safety data sheets (SDSs) — Replace material safety data sheets (MSDSs). These will use a standard 16-section format. The Hazardous Products Regulations specifies the sections and the content for the SDS. Some new information is required.
What's staying the same in WHMIS 2015

The current roles and responsibilities of employers, suppliers, and workers remain unchanged in WHMIS 2015.

Employer responsibilities:

  • Ensure that all hazardous products are properly labelled
  • Make SDSs readily available to workers
  • Prepare workplace labels and SDSs as necessary
  • Provide worker education and training
  • Ensure appropriate control measures to protect the health and safety of workers

Worker responsibilities:

  • Participate in WHMIS training programs
  • Take necessary steps to protect themselves and their co-workers
  • Participate in identifying and controlling hazards

Employers have until December 1, 2018 to comply with the WHMIS 2015 requirements. A multi-year transition plan is in effect for manufacturers and distributors of WHMIS regulated products. During the transition period, both the original WHMIS, (now called WHMIS 1988), and WHMIS 2015 may be used in the workplace.

See the WHMIS webpage for more information.

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