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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 was a challenging year 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 toward creating an enhanced approach to health and safety in their workplace. 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 assist employers and workers to create effective and sustainable safety management systems to increase awareness of risks and overall health and safety performance.

Our focus

Our officers will primarily consult with employers, though they will address violations throughout the engagement. Officers will determine if the employer is effectively managing risk in their workplace and if resources are needed to assist them in this effort. We will focus on the key elements of an employer’s safety management system:

  • Hazard identification, risk assessment and controls, communication
  • Worker instruction, training, and supervision
  • Inspections
  • Reporting and investigations
  • In 2021, COVID-19 safety 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.