VANCOUVER -- Now that restaurants are allowed to resume in-person dining and hair salons and gyms can welcome clients again, WorkSafeBC's 340 inspectors are being directed to focus on those newly reopened businesses.

“So they will be going into those workplaces, they will also be phoning and reaching out to those workplaces that are reopening and talking to them, asking them questions. Do you have a plan? Is it working? Have you involved your workers in developing the plan?” said Al Johnson with WorkSafeBC.

"There will be surprise drop-in inspections, and employees and the public can also call WorkSafe if they think a specific business should be looked at."

If inspectors find issues, they’ll write an order directing the owner to correct them, but if businesses don't make changes, there could be consequences.

“Obviously depending on the severity of the issue, we can shut down workplaces, we can issue penalties and sanctions and fines in some cases. Those are calculated based on an employer’s payroll,” Johnson said.

But B.C.’s labour minister doesn’t think that will happen often.

“I expect most that business will comply,” said Harry Bains, who believes if they don’t, customers won’t come. “I can’t emphasize enough that if you don’t win the confidence of the customers who are going to come into those businesses, the business will continue to suffer.”

Business owners say they’ve suffered enough. Anna Piloyan, who just reopened Deco De Mode nail salon in Victoria, said she's "never worked so hard in my life."

"It was opening a new business with new restrictions," Piloyan said.

So if a WorkSafeBC inspector dropped into her business?

“I’d be ready and I’d be happy to talk to them,” said Piloyan. “We have all the protective gear and the sanitizers, and if they are checking something and they tell us to adjust something it would actually help us. We would be glad to have the communications and guidelines from them.”

Bains said inspections have already increased dramatically so far this year. In all of 2019, about 10,000 inspections were done at businesses. But so far, more than 15,000 have been conducted this year and more than 8,700 of those were done between March 22 to April 16 alone.

"This is to make sure businesses have the best safety measures in place and consumers can place their trust by stepping inside of them," Bains said. 

 Watch an American Sign Language translation of the news conference on the provincial government's YouTube page.