Understanding British Columbia's Health and Safety Requirements

As an employer, you play an important role in preventing workplace injuries and promoting a safe and healthy workplace. In fact, under the Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations you have a legal obligation to properly inform, instruct and supervise your employees and to do everything you reasonably can to protect them.

I have fewer than 20 employees:

  • In work places where there are 10 to 19 employees there must be a worker health and safety representative. (Workplaces with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from this requirement).
  • OHS Representatives work with employers and workers to create a healthy and safe work environment by detecting OHS hazards and developing practical approaches to eliminate or control those hazards.
  • Check out the joint health and safety committee evaluation tool and accompanying guide.
  • All worker health and safety representatives selected on or after April 3, 2017 must receive four hours of training. WorkSafeBC offers an online course for worker health and safety representatives.

Health & Safety Program:

  • If you have fewer than 20 employee, you will still need an informal Health & Safety program. Use this WCB BC guide to help you create your program.

I have 20 or more employees:

Health & Safety Program:

  • If you have more than 20 employees, you will need a formal Health & Safety Program. Use WorkSafeBC’s guide on how to create one for your workplace. 
  • There also some sector specific policies that your workplace may require. For instance, if your employees work at heights you will need a “Fall Protection Plan” in place, if working in tight quarters, you will need a “Confined Spaces Plan”.

Anti Bullying & Harassment:

  • All employers, supervisors, and workers have a duty to prevent and address bullying and harassment in the workplace in accordance with the WorkSafeBC policies.
  • What you will need to do:
    • Understand what workplace bullying and harassment is and take steps to prevent it from taking place.
    • Create a bullying and harassment policy statement (to be reviewed annually).
    • Create and implement a training program for all employees.
    • Prepare procedures for reporting an incident.
    • Prepare Investigation procedures.

First-aid Kit Requirements:

  • You are responsible for ensuring that your workplace has the necessary First-aid equipment, supplies, facilities, and people to treat workers if they are injured on the job.
  • First-aid Requirements are determined by:
    •  Number of employees on shift.
    •  Number of work places.
    •  Workplace hazard rating.
    •  Surface travel time to a hospital.

Based on the above criteria, use Schedule 3-A to determine what your first aid requirements are.

Check out the OHS Guidelines list the recommended minimum contents for first aid kits.

Workplace Violence Policy:

  • Employers must provide a workplace as safe from the threat of violence as possible.  If there is a risk of violence in a workplace, the employer must set up and instruct workers on procedures to eliminate or minimize the risks.
  • This WCB guide provides an explanation on how to implement a workplace violence policy and provides a template for a written policy.

Notice to Workers:

  • WCB requires that every business in BC have the Notice to Workers Poster posted by the employer in a highly visible place. It provides information to employees on how to prevent injuries, what to do in the event of an injury, how to claim compensation, and where to get assistance with a claim.

Emergency Management Planning:

  • All businesses are required to have emergency procedures in place in case of a disaster.
  • This WorkSafeBC handout provides helpful tips and a worksheet that small businesses can follow to ensure their business is ready for an emergency.

New and Young Workers:

  • WorkSafeBC defines a new worker as anyone that is new to your workplace and young workers as any worker under 25 years of age.
  • Here are some examples of the regulations all businesses in BC need to comply with:
    • All new and young workers must be given a health and safety orientation prior to starting employment.
    • Employers must document all orientation and training provided to new and young workers.

This sample Worker Orientation Checklist will help ensure that proper training is provided to your new employees. All training must be documented and kept as proof for WCB.

The following topics must be included in the young or new worker's orientation and training:

  • The name and contact information for the young or new worker's supervisor.
  • The employer's and young or new worker's rights and responsibilities under the Workers Compensation Act and this Regulation including the reporting of unsafe conditions and the right to refuse to perform unsafe work.
  • Workplace health and safety rules.
  • Hazards to which the young or new worker may be exposed, including risks from robbery, assault or confrontation.
  • Working alone or in isolation.
  • Violence in the workplace.
  • Personal protective equipment.
  • Location of first aid facilities and means of summoning first aid and reporting illnesses and injuries.
  • Emergency procedures.
  • Instruction and demonstration of the young or new worker's work task or work process.
  • Contact information for the occupational health and safety committee or the worker health and safety representative, as applicable to the workplace.


CFIB is here to help you!

Contact our Business Advisors for further information, for an example of a Health and Safety Policy, Emergency Communication Procedure, or for more details on any Occupational Health and Safety issues at 1-833-568-2342 or email us at cfib@cfib.ca.