Managing Health and Safety

Bottom Line Benefits of an OHS Program

Your bartender twists her ankle or your cook is injured from slipping in the kitchen, and they can’t come to work. It’s a scenario you don’t even want to think about—and not just for their sake, but for yours. For a small pub or bar, you are already tight on staff, so even one workplace accident can spell disaster.

Managing Costs Related to Accidents

Accidents cost money—and often more than you might think. This is in addition to the costs you’re suffering from having labour shortages. For every dollar in direct costs related to an incident, such as extended health and disability payments, an employer spends $4.00 in indirect costs. These range from investigation time, legal fees, and the expenses of recruiting and training replacement workers to equipment repairs, service delays, reduced productivity, and damage to the business’s reputation.

Health and safety is, however, something you can manage, just as you would manage any other aspect of a business. Your toolkit for this is an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) program. Besides being a legal requirement, an OHS program is an essential resource for managing costs and can pay back multiple times over in everything from reduced insurance premiums to more efficient training, improved morale, lower turnover, and even better customer service.

An OHS program is an essential resource for managing costs and can pay back multiple times over.

Reducing WorkSafeBC Premiums

The most tangible bottom line impact of an OHS program is its effect on WorkSafeBC premiums. Your company’s claims record, called an experience rating, can be anywhere from a 50% discount to a 100% surcharge on premiums over time. A well-implemented OHS program is the first step in managing your experience rating and, ultimately, your insurance costs.

Fulfilling Legal Requirements

Besides registering for WorkSafeBC coverage, every employer in BC, no matter how small, is required to have an OHS program in place.

These programs are meant to minimize risks, protect workers, and maintain a healthy and safe workplace. What that looks like depends on the size and risk level of your business.

A formal health and safety program is required if you have 50 or more employees, or 20 or more employees and at least one workplace with a moderate or high risk of injury. WorkSafeBC can help determine the exact requirements, but typically pubs, liquor stores and other licensees will only need an informal system.

Developing an OHS Program

In general, an OHS program, formal or informal, will cover procedures for:

  • providing and maintaining first aid supplies, systems and training;
  •  identifying and controlling hazards in the workplace;
  • training and orienting employees in OHS procedures;
  • workplace inspections;
  • incident reports and investigations; and
  • sub-programs specific to each workplace.

Employers with 20 or more workers are also required to have a joint health and safety committee, where employer and staff work together to improve workplace health and safety.

It’s a lot of work, but there’s also plenty of help–much of it free–available to licensees looking to create or upgrade their OHS program. WorkSafeBC and go2HR are your starting points.

How did the Sasquatch Inn get Started?

For many hospitality businesses, getting started is the hardest part. That was certainly the experience for Nancy Maclean at the Sasquatch Inn. As assistant manager of an historic 10-room hotel, pub and liquor store in Harrison Mills, Maclean knew that an OHS program was essential, but finding the time was another matter.

“We knew we needed to put a safety program together, but it’s one of those things you never get around to. It’s time-consuming, it’s hard to know where to start and, being a small business, we couldn’t pay thousands for someone else to do it.”

It turned out to be a lot easier than she initially thought. “I went to, clicked on the templates, and it was so easy,” she recalls.

“go2HR has templates for the service industry covering everything from lifting boxes to working with knives and cleaning the deep fryer. It was easy to take examples of procedures and adapt them for our needs, and I was also able to create safety procedures unique to our business. For example, we’re in the country and we have bears and cougars.”

The new procedures are now part of all staff training and day-to-day operations of the business.

What are the benefits? “It makes managing and supervising a lot easier,” observes Maclean. “It takes out the guesswork and makes everyone do things the same way. It also makes it easier for the staff to be proactive. Since they’ve all been trained on the procedures they’re more comfortable in reminding each other about them.”

It makes managing and supervising a lot easier.

Registering for a Certificate of Recognition

Maclean and her team liked the new structured approach so much that they opted to go a step further and register for the Certificate of Recognition (COR) program.

COR is a voluntary, nationally-recognized, audit, certification, and incentive program that rewards employers who go beyond the legal requirements of the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations. Among its many benefits, COR certification brings a 10% financial incentive cheque based on a business’s annual WorkSafeBC premiums.
For employers in BC’s tourism and hospitality industry, the first step in the process is to contact go2HR, which administers the program and supports participating employers in the industry.
Currently go2HR offers COR to larger employers with 20 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. In early 2017, it’s due to launch the new Small Employer Certificate of Recognition (SECOR) program. Customized specifically for tourism and hospitality employers with fewer than 20 FTEs, SECOR is expected to expand the COR program to many smaller food and beverage businesses.
Whether you’re starting from scratch, upgrading an existing OHS program, or opting for COR certification, the ultimate goal is not just to have a solid OHS program. Ideally, the process will inspire a culture of health and safety, where everyone on staff takes ownership of workplace health and safety. That can have a powerful effect: streamlining training, getting new employees up to speed faster, spreading the workload, saving management time, and ultimately, maintaining a healthy and safe workplace. This will help attract and recruit employees who value a safe and healthy workplace, and will establish your business as an employer of choice.
go2HR is BC’s tourism and hospitality human resource association. As labour market specialists, go2HR coordinates the BC Tourism Labour Market Strategy and provides programs and resources in the areas of recruitment, retention, and training. To learn more, visit