Smithers Experienc Downtown sign. (Contributed photo)

Smithers Experienc Downtown sign. (Contributed photo)

No “negatives” with business restart in Smithers: Worksafe inspector

Lawrence Joice says he was impressed with his walkthrough of 50 downtown businesses

A Worksafe BC inspector says Smithers is doing exceptionally well with the second phase of B.C.’s restart plan.

Lawrence Joice told participants in a Chamber of Commerce Zoom Roundtable June 4 that he did a walkthrough of 45 to 50-plus downtown businesses last week to ensure everybody is taking appropriate measures under directions of the provincial health officer and was impressed with what he saw.

“Every business I went to, and I mean every one of them, had a good, positive role in COVID-19,” he said. “I have not seen any negatives of anything in the Town of Smithers.”

That being said, however, he noted it is a work in progress.

“It’s not a one size fits all,” he said. “The steps some people are taking are commendable, it’s a learning curve for everyone.

Joice also explained Worksafe is taking an approach of education and collaboration, rather than enforcement.

“The inspection is not there to enforce, it’s there to say, ‘hey how are you doing, what can we help you with, let’s address whatever concerns that may be out there’,” he said.

Smithers Deputy Mayor Gladys Atrill said it was heartening to hear both that Smithers businesses were doing well and that Worksafe was taking a gentle approach.

“The attitude that Worksafe BC is bringing with it, educational reinforcement, that’s fantastic right now,” she said. “People just need to have help figuring it out.

“Everyone’s just kind of inching their way through this and it’s just going to take time. That’s settling in for everyone… it’s going to be a long haul and we might as well just go slow and figure it out so when something opens up it can be open rather than open and closed.”

The main customer concern Joice said he found was that there should be clear direction on what they are supposed to do when they enter a business.

“We need to ensure we have really good instructions for customers,” he said.

Joice said he was finishing up the reports for businesses last week and would be back in two weeks for a followup.

“What I’m going to be looking for is whether or not you’ve taken suggestions in the work through with the safety plan and implemented it,” he said.