One of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy during COVID-19 is also the one struggling the most with re-starting business safely, according to the latest data from WorkSafe BC.
The service industry — which includes businesses such as hair salons, schools, hospitals, gyms, hotels, and restaurants — has racked up 104 orders out of 334 issued up to July 3.
The next most common industry to receive an order as of July 3, is the manufacturing sector, which includes meat processing plants, which have been hard hit by COVID-19, including a poultry plant in Coquitlam, as well as breweries, sawmills, and pharmaceuticals.
In mid-May, an outbreak at Superior Poultry was declared over, and the plant allowed to re-open after instituting safety protocols.
Still, WorkSafeBC reports that most employers are doing their due diligence when it comes to meeting industry-specific guidelines.
However, when employers aren’t taking measures to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure, they could be issued an order for health or safety violations.
For the most part, though, employers have been taking the proper steps to re-open their businesses safely during the provincial re-start plan.
“Overall, the vast majority of employers are taking health and safety very seriously during the re-opening. Our inspections are finding that businesses want to be in compliance, and our prevention officers are providing support to help them have an effective COVID-19 Safety Plan,” stated Ivy Yuen, media relations representative in an email to The Tri-City News.
Data is not broken down regionally, so it is difficult to ascertain how many Tri-City businesses were given an order to beef up health and safety protocols.
Since, June 26, WorkSafeBC has conducted more than 12,000 worksite inspections in B.C. related to COVID-19.
The focus of these inspections has been to ensure employers have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place, according to Yuen, who noted: “This plan needs to assess the risks to workers, and implement measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.”
Orders are usually issued as a result of an inspection or can be part of follow-up activity.
Data posted by WorkPlace BC online shows that employers have a lot of questions about how to manage the new pandemic reality. In recent weeks, it has fielded 9,823 questions, 1,728 reports of potential violations, and 21 workplace incidents.
There have also been 12,646 inspections, with the large service sector receiving the most at 4,615, followed by 2,988 for trade-related businesses, which includes supermarkets, retail stores, and gas stations, 1,256 for the manufacturing sector, 886 for primary resource companies, such as oil and gas, 234 for transportation and warehousing, and 180 for the public sector, including government and law enforcement.
Other industries are being ordered to improve their safety protocols, according to the data.
Inspectors have issued 65 orders for the trade sector, 60 for construction, 18 for primary resources, three for the public sector, and two for transportation and warehousing, which includes taxis and ride-hailing.