My advice is when this happens, nip it in the bud immediately and DO NOT allow anyone on to your job site, as you can well become liable under the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act if they get injured.
As the contractor, it’s your job under the Act to protect the safety of everyone who steps one inch on to your site, regardless if they’re delivering products, like windows or lumber from places like RONA or Home Depot. Your neck is in the noose if it goes wrong and they get injured.
We received a call the other day from a CARAHS member contractor about painters arriving unannounced, arranged by the homeowner. They had no safety footwear, no hard hats and did not have the required cards showing they completed courses on Fall Awareness or WHIMS, as required. They were asked to leave, which they did after the contractor explained the issues to them and the homeowner.
In the future, this contractor will alter his contracts to include a stipulation that says, no one is allowed on the work site, which will hopefully avert future headaches or liabilities.
Another member contractor faced the same challenges this week and removed all their tools from the job, after they discovered, on their return to the job site, the owner had let in other workers to the renovation site. They had removed safety barriers over a doorway on the 4th floor, that led to a deck. Problem was the deck had been removed under the renovation. Can you imagine the issues with this one! Quite likely death to anyone stepping outside for some fresh air and who would be to blame? Whose construction site was it? The original contractor.
It’s about doing your due diligence beforehand and about protecting yourself from prosecution. Were stipulations written into your contract that the homeowner were not to let anyone onto your site? Did you have a sign saying NO AUTHORIZED ENTRY or call this number to get permission to enter? Was there hours of operation showing say 8 to 5 pm, Monday to Friday? Did you take photos showing proof you had signage, barriers, etc? I’m all about covering the backs of contractors and their businesses!
There seems to be a misconception that homeowners see your job site as their home. Unfortunately this is wrong. We have to begin seeing this as a construction site that falls under the same safety regulations as, for example, a big box store being built. There is no difference between a commercial job being built and a home renovation job going on. They are one and the same under theOccupational Health & Safety Act. This is the point I want to drill home here to everyone.
When issues like these unfold on your job sites, who will you call to help solve these issues? Both our members involved in my article this week knew exactly what to do. They simply called our toll free number, which goes directly to our office and is answered by us personally, where we were able to address their concerns. We gave them guidance and solved their problems. We even visited both their job sites since they were in the Toronto area.
We invite you to join CARAHS, so we can help you avoid bureaucratic headaches, prosecution, liabilities, red tape and – potentially – injury or tragedy on your jobsites.