Workers, employers, and the public can call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line to ask questions and learn more about workplace health and safety.
Each week, on average, WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line receives 350 to 400 calls from people reporting incidents or unsafe work conditions, or who want to talk to a prevention officer about a health and safety issue.
Recently, this free service was expanded: there are now eight officers taking calls, up from four a year ago. There are also two other officers dedicated to questions about bullying and harassment.
“The increase has positively affected the timeliness of the information getting out to people,” says Jacqueline Holmes, a Prevention Field Services manager at WorkSafeBC. Since the expansion, the time it takes for an officer to phone a caller back has dropped from more than 10 hours to under 2 hours.
In the May/June 2019 issue of WorkSafe Magazine, safety officer Doug Irving described the calls they get: “We get a lot of calls about first aid and protective equipment, and everything from indoor air quality to office ergonomics, workplace violence, fall protection, traffic control, and controlling silica dust, just to name a few.”
Adds Jacqueline: “We’ve also asked the officers to spend more time on the phone with people to get as many resources as we can for them. If it’s not a WorkSafeBC issue, we will do our best to direct them to where they will be able to get other assistance.”
Maintaining caller confidentiality
In some cases, when someone calls with a safety concern, WorkSafeBC officers will follow up with an on-site inspection. But they will never tell employers whether a worker has called in.
“If we go into a workplace and an employer asks if a worker called us, we are not permitted to provide that information,” Jacqueline says. “Instead, an officer will say something to the effect of, ‘I’m here to conduct a general workplace inspection. We are authorized to inspect all workplaces in B.C.’”
Sometimes workers want to know if WorkSafeBC has inspected their workplace already. Jacqueline says that while they can’t share any confidential information, they can tell people if officers have visited. Workers can ask their health and safety committee to see the inspection report or request copies through a legal freedom of information process.
For more information on the changes, see the announcement WorkSafeBC improves access to occupational health and safety information. Also see this post I did in 2014, Calling WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line.
Call the Prevention Information Line
People in the Lower Mainland are welcome to call the Prevention Information Line at 604-276-3100; from anywhere in Canada, the toll-free number is 1-888-621-SAFE. Prevention officers are directly available Monday to Friday from 8:05 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The line is also available after hours and on weekends for urgent health and safety calls. In addition, translation services are available if callers need them.