This week on the radio station I heard an Ontario WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) commercial telling homeowners and contractors that, come January 1, 2014, anyone found working without a WSIB a clearance certificate in construction will face fines of up to $100,000. Those who hire contractors without confirming they have a valid clearance number also face serious fines and penalties, up to $100,000.
It seems the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act 1997 (WSIA) doesn’t just determine who needs to have coverage with the WSIB, it also determines the consequences for people who don’t comply with the law. And the agency, with an unfunded liability over $15-billion, is squeezing all of us.
When Bill 119 came into law on Jan. 1 this year, WSIB was extended to tens of thousands of contractors not previously required to pay into it. Everyone was given 12 months to comply. Now, with less than six weeks to go until that deadline, WSIB are coming over heavy handed with their very blunt messages in the media.
Yes, there is an exemption for home renovators. But you can claim WSIB exemption ONLY if you do home renovations 100% of the time. Meaning, your business only works on existing private residences. You must be hired and paid by the occupant or a member of their family.
The twist in the story is, if you are a home renovator and are hired by a property owner or a landlord (someone who owns the house/property but does not live in it), you will not be considered exempt.
Homeowners who own and rent out residential properties must beware. Under WSIB guidelines, they now become liable under WSIB laws and are seen as constructors. Meaning, if they send anyone to their rental property to do work (whether that is a sole proprietor home renovator, a tradesperson, a duct cleaning company, a roofing company, property maintenance people, etc.) they become liable for all these folks’ WSIB premiums and can be fined up to $100,000 if they don’t obtain valid clearance numbers from WSIB first.
To make things worse, these homeowner/landlords fall under the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act. Meaning, by sending anyone to their rental property, they are an employer. They will be held responsible for the safety of these people while working at their rental property. The reason is: the rental property is a business! If anyone hired takes a fall off their ladder, because the ladder was either faulty or not tied down top and bottom (O. Reg 213/91, s. 80), then the homeowner/landlord could well be taken to court and prosecuted under Ministry of Labour laws. They would face up to $25,000 in fines, plus a potential 25% “victim surcharge” and up to 12 months in jail.
So the WSIB isn’t messing around. They are looking for your money. And both they and the Ministry of Labour can take you to court if you don’t comply.
Watch WSIB video on who is exempt, including officers of companies and partner in partnerships.
CARAHS is a non profit association for renovators and home services providers. We offer education, information and benefits.
CARAHS offers over 90 Health and Safety online e-courses online here. Toll free 1-866-366-2930
Read this article at the Canadian Contractor online free magazine