Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

People wear face masks as they walk through a shopping mall.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

B.C.'s workplace safety agency says it is stepping up investigations of workplaces as the BC Federation of Labour calls for penalties and fines to protect workers.

Inspectors will now look at public-health information on where and why clusters are occurring to determine what parts of the province and what kinds of workplaces to focus on, said Al Johnson, head of prevention services for WorkSafeBC.

As an example, he said, WorkSafeBC will take a second look at some workplaces where positive tests and clusters of COVID-19 have occurred. There is interest in manufacturing, food-processing, health care and warehousing, particularly in the area covered by the Fraser Health Authority, which is southeast of Vancouver and covers such cities as Surrey, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge.

Story continues below advertisement

“Of course, if we need to go anywhere, we will,” he said.

On Tuesday, the province announced 525 new cases of COVID-19, and three new deaths. The Vancouver Coastal Health region had 159 cases, and the Fraser Health region 325. B.C. had 5,133 active cases, with 9,781 people under public-health monitoring. The province did not report new numbers on Wednesday.

WorkSafeBC has conducted more than 51,000 inspections this year, compared to 40,000 in a normal year. A total of 700 orders to make changes to procedures – “the first motivator to an employer,” Mr. Johnson said – have been issued to employers for health and safety violations. However, the number of fines has been low. An agency spokesman said there has been at least one and maybe a few more.

WorkSafeBC imposes fines based on a percentage of the payroll for repeat non-compliance with orders. These sanctions range from $550 to $650,000. Mr. Johnson said most employers have been willing to make changes, and that none of the highest-range fines have been issued in cases related to COVID-19.

Laird Cronk, president of the BC Federation of Labour, said his organization is urging the province’s government and health officials, and WorkSafeBC, to ensure health orders are followed.

“This should include increased inspections to enforce the orders and the issuing of appropriate penalties and fines if an employer fails to ensure a safe workplace,” Mr. Cronk said in a news release.

When asked in an interview if WorkSafeBC has sufficient resources, he said he would leave that to the agency to answer.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Johnson said WorkSafeBC has worked closely with the federation. “We want to ensure that workers are safe,” he said. “We are engaging strongly with workplaces out there.”

Mr. Johnson described current work on COVID-19 issues as a “Herculean effort.” He said WorkSafeBC recently received about 800 calls in one day about COVID-19 concerns, and some were referred to officers for follow-up.

“We’re busy, no doubt about it, but we’re able to maintain everything that needs to be done.”

Earlier this week, Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Public Health Officer, said she was calling on businesses across the province to revisit their COVID-19 safety plans.

“Now is the time to do everything you can to ensure you are protecting your employees and your customers, and businesses operating in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health,” she said.

Employers must ensure that all employees do health checks before they come to work every day, Dr. Henry said.

Story continues below advertisement

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies