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Small Business Initiative

Small businesses are integral to the growth of British Columbia’s economy. There are over 150,000 small businesses that employ between 1-9 workers, representing over 30 percent of the total businesses in B.C. Small businesses in B.C. engage in diverse activities but a large proportion (79 percent) of them are in service sector industries.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 and 2021 were challenging years for small businesses in the province. When we move past the pandemic and begin to re-build, there will be an opportunity for businesses to use their experience of managing the risk of COVID-19 and apply it towards creating an enhanced approach to health and safety in their workplaces. The Small Business Initiative aims to provide the support and resources necessary for employers to take their health and safety programs to the next level.

Small businesses represented 22 percent (approximately 11,000) of the time-loss claims and 36 percent (approximately 2,500) of the province’s serious injuries in 2018. The small business serious injury rate was 0.4 in 2018, compared to 0.2 for medium and large employers combined.

Employers, regardless of size, must ensure the health and safety of their workers. Small employers often do not have the knowledge or resources to effectively manage health and safety, and this initiative aims to engage small employers to ensure they meet their legal obligations and responsibilities for health and safety.

Our goals

The Small Business Initiative aims to prevent workplace injury and illness, particularly fatal or serious injuries. We will not focus in on one particular risk, but instead assist employers and workers to create effective and sustainable safety management systems that will increase worker awareness of risks and overall health and safety performance.

Our focus

2022 inspectional approach

For 2022 inspections, prevention officers will take a risk-based approach to ensure that the most significant risks are effectively managed. This approach involves workers and employers identifying hazards, evaluating risks, and implementing the appropriate controls specific to the on-site activities. In addition, it focuses on employers ensuring these efforts are effectively communicated to workers and monitored through foundational occupational health and safety systems such as orientations, training, supervision, incident investigations, worksite inspections, and (where applicable) joint health and safety committees that are robust and well supported.

We will focus on the key elements of an employer’s safety management system:

  • Hazard identification, risk assessment and controls, communication
  • Worker engagement through instruction, training, and supervision
  • Inspections
  • Reporting and investigations
  • In 2022, communicable disease prevention plans will remain a focus

What you can do

Our Small Business pages provide resources and information on how to understand and address some of the health and safety issues to focus on in your industry.