Small businesses in B.C. employ over 1.1 million people and, according to the Government of British Columbia’s Small Business Profile 2022, account for 43 percent of all workers in the province.
Whether your business is large or small, as an employer you are responsible for ensuring a healthy and safe workplace. Small business owners traditionally wear many hats and are often required to be experts in everything from payroll to purchasing. At WorkSafeBC, we strive to make understanding your health and safety responsibilities as straightforward as possible.
Below are answers to questions many small business owners have about WorkSafeBC coverage and their health and safety requirements.
What Does WorkSafeBC Do for Me?
WorkSafeBC provides no-fault insurance for workers and employers. 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 this coverage, 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
- Are a homeowner who hires someone to work in or around your home for a certain period of time (e.g., to provide child care or lawn services)
- Come from another province or country to work in B.C.
- Work in the commercial fishing or trucking industries
All 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 self-employed as a proprietor or partner and would like to be covered for workers’ compensation, apply for Personal Optional Protection.
How Can I Reduce the Chance of Workplace Injuries?
As an employer, you are responsible for workplace health and safety planning. Building a strong workplace health and safety culture helps prevent workplace injury, disease, and death.
Engage with your workers to identify health and safety risks at your workplace, and follow up with a plan to minimize those risks. Have conversations about safety with your team, build on their input, and ensure they feel heard.
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? Improving health and safety doesn’t have to be costly, and the potential return on investment is huge.
What Are My Responsibilities as an Employer?
Some of your primary responsibilities are listed below, and a detailed list is available in our guide for small businesses.
- Register with WorkSafeBC.
- Pay premiums.
- Comply with the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
- Provide a safe workplace with training, supervision, and a valid occupational health and safety program.
- Report injuries, diseases, and other incidents to WorkSafeBC, and investigate incidents.
What Resources Does WorkSafeBC Offer for Small Businesses?
Small business owners have unique concerns and questions. The following are topics we receive the most questions about:
- Understanding who needs WorkSafeBC insurance coverage
- Applying for WorkSafeBC insurance
- Getting a clearance letter to find out if a business or contractor you plan to hire is registered with us and in good standing
- Reporting payroll and paying premiums using a variety of options
To find out if you need to register and to navigate your health and safety needs, visit worksafebc.com/smallbusiness.