WorkSafeBC has issued a list of guidelines to help employers come up with a safe reopening plan that they’re required to have in place before increasing economic activity — but those plans do not have to be approved before they resume business as usual.

According to provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, businesses reopening must have a COVID-19 safety plan that is posted publicly for customers and employees to see, either on their website or on a storefront window.

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However, employers do not need to get those plans approved by either public health officials or WorkSafeBC before moving forward with reopening.

These details were revealed on Thursday, a day after B.C. announced a four-phased approach to increasing economic activity in a safe manner during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phase 2, to begin after the May long weekend, will include the opening of some retail businesses and offices, provided they are able to publicly post their safe reopening plan.

WorkSafeBC has launched an assessment guide meant to help businesses inform their safe reopening plans. This can be accessed here. 

A webinar is also available for smaller businesses, led by Chris Back from WorkSafeBC, to help them create a plan to mitigate risks of COVID-19 transmission.

“You are not required to submit your plans for approval by WorkSafeBC, but you may be asked to provide them during a WorkSafeBC inspection,” reads a statement from the agency.

“However, you must ensure that workers understand the measures you are taking to reduce the risk as many will have concerns about returning to work. Involve them in the planning process as much as possible to ensure their concerns are heard and addressed.”

For the most part, Dr. Henry says accountability for businesses sticking to proper plans in keeping with public health guidance will come as a result of employers posting their safe reopening plans for all to see.

“I believe that most businesses will do the right thing because this means they’re protecting their business, and it builds confidence in all of us that we can do this safely,” she said during her daily press briefing on Thursday.

However, the province is also implementing a complaints-based system through which employees who feel that adequate safeguards against COVID-19 are not available in their workplace can report to WorkSafeBC.

Consumers and patrons who may want to report lackluster protocols can contact public health officials in their region.

Authorities will then follow up with businesses through an inspection, during which employers must present their COVID-19 safe reopening plans.