Small Business Health & Safety – What You Need to Know

Small businesses in B.C. employ nearly 1.1 million people and according to the Government of British Columbia’s report on Small Business for 2018, account for 54% of private sector employment.  Small business owners traditionally wear many hats, and are often required to be experts in everything from payroll to purchasing. Workplace health and safety is one area it’s essential to stay on top of.

Small business owners are busy and have many priorities. We want to help them understand their WorkSafeBC coverage, and know their health and safety requirements.

Here are some answers to questions many small business owners have.

How Does WorkSafeBC Help?

WorkSafeBC provides no-fault insurance for workers and employers. All workers are covered by WorkSafeBC in the event of a workplace injury, work-related disease or fatality. Employers registered with WorkSafeBC pay premiums that fund the system, and in return, they are protected and cannot be sued for the cost of a work-related injury, disease, or fatality.

Do All Small Businesses Need to Register for WorkSafeBC Insurance?

Generally, you need to register if you:

  • Employ and pay workers on a regular, casual, or contract basis
  • As a homeowner, if you hire an individual to work in or around your home for a certain period of time (e.g., child care, lawn services, etc.)
  • Come from another province or country to work in B.C.
  • Work in the commercial fishing or trucking industries

Most B.C. workers are automatically covered for workers’ compensation. However, proprietors and their spouses, as well as partners in a partnership, are not considered workers unless they have been granted optional coverage. If you’re a proprietor or partner and would like to be covered for workers’ compensation, you must apply for Personal Optional Protection (POP).

If you are unsure if you need to register or not, you can learn more at

How Can I Reduce the Chance of Workplace Injuries?

Creating a culture of safety is not only good for business, it is the right thing to do.  For example, workplaces that implement slip, trip, and fall prevention controls can have a significant advantage, especially when you factor in costs, lost productivity, and staff replacement. Although these costs are not simple to quantify, they do affect your business’ bottom line.

The first step in protecting your workers is to identify potential hazards in your workplace. What is it about the activities or processes that could injure your workers or harm their health?

Meet regularly and talk to your workers about health and safety issues they encounter in their work. Keep lines of communication open with your workers, as they can help to identify risks.

Improving health and safety doesn’t have to be costly, but the potential return on investment is huge.

What Are Your Responsibilities as an Employer?

WorkSafeBC Resources

Small business owners have unique concerns and questions.  The following are topics we receive the most questions about:

To help you navigate your health and safety needs, visit business for a list of online resources including the new manual: Health and Safety for Small Businesses: A Guide to WorkSafeBC.

Here to Help

No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of seminars and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.

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