Virtually all employers in British Columbia need to register with the WorkSafeBC. WorkSafeBC coverage protects your business against lawsuits from workers who are injured on the job or who contract a disease as a result of their work for you. If you fail to register, you could be fined and charged compensation costs if one of your employees becomes injured on the job.
Every employer has a legal responsibility to provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment for its employees. In BC, occupational health and safety is governed by the Workers’ Compensation Act. The act establishes the Workers Compensation Board, now referred to as WorkSafeBC, and is accompanied by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
The mandate of the board is to protect employers, workers and their dependents from financial hardship in the event of work-related injury or disease. In addition, the board, through WorkSafeBC, is dedicated to promoting workplace health and safety for workers and employers in BC. In the event of work-related injuries or diseases, WorkSafeBC works with the affected parties to provide return-to-work rehabilitation, compensation, health care benefits, and a range of other services.
Who is covered?
The act applies to all employers and workers in BC, with some very limited exceptions. As an employer, you need to register if you have employees — other than your spouse — who are paid to work for you on a regular, casual or contract basis.
Note that the Canada Labour Code regulates occupational health and safety for employees of federally regulated employers.
Partners, proprietors, a proprietor’s spouse and independent operators who are neither an employer nor an employee are not automatically covered for compensation benefits, unless they apply for voluntary coverage called Personal Optional Protection (POP). POP will cover medical expenses and insured salary of those who are injured on the job or who contract a disease as a result of work.
Additional resources and advice
The rights and responsibilities set out in the act and regulations are technical and too voluminous to be covered in detail on this site. The regulations alone contain approximately 4,000 requirements. Fortunately, the board publishes many resources on its website to help employers and employees navigate the regulatory scheme and better understand their rights and obligations. Employers should become familiar with these resources by reviewing the WorkSafeBC publications.
As an additional resource, the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training is responsible for two agencies, the Employers’ Advisers Office (EAO) and the Workers’ Advisers Office (WAO). The EAO, as an employer’s resource, provides independent advice, assistance, representation and training to employers, potential employers and employer associations concerning workers’ compensation issues. For more information concerning the resources provided by the EAO, visit the Employers’ Advisers Office.
Visit Regulation and Guidelines for Tourism & Hospitality on WorkSafeBC’s website for specific sections of the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation that are most relevant to the tourism and hospitality industry.
Information provided by Ryan Anderson, an employment lawyer with Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP. The information provided in this article is necessarily of a general nature and must not be regarded as legal advice. For more information about Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP, please visit mathewsdinsdale.com.