Canadian Contractor

Occupational Safety Act in Ontario: you can't claim ignorance of it in court

The Ontario Ministry of Labour can nail you if there's an injury on your jobsite and you didn't have the right policies and procedures, including Fall Protection Awareness trainining

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January 16, 2013 by Alec Caldwell

Further to my article last week, where I described how some contractors are trying to avoid mandatory WSIB in Ontario by working for homeowners on an “advisory” basis, making the homeowner the de facto general contractor, we’ve had a lot of feedback. I described the serious risks the contractors are taking if the homeowner is put in this position. It’s clear a lot of contractors don’t know much about the province’s Occupational Health & Safety Act, so I want to talk more about it here.

There is no liability under the Act if a homeowner’s hires an individual or company employee to do renovation or repairs at their main place of residence. Yet there is full liability on this same homeowner if they send these individuals to complete work at any rental property they might own. Here the laws change and the homeowner becomes an employer, as the rental property is viewed as a business. Meaning if this trade or contractor worker falls off a ladder, for example, and is seriously injured (bone fracture to leg of arm and more) the Ontario Ministry of Labour will investigate and prosecuted anyone found guilty of contravening the Act in not insuring the safety of that worker. Including the homeowner in this case.

On further investigating of current laws, if any outside person(s) arrive at your place of business (not your home residence) to carry out renovations or repair work, under the Act they become your employees. So, like all employees, they should be made aware of your company’s Policies & Procedures, and you should take copies of their Fall Protection  certificates and more. Injuries to them at your place of business could cause you serious legal consequences if you and they don’t have these documents.

Ignorance of the law can not be used as your excuse in court. The Ministry of Labour, if you are prosecuted, will argue that you had the opportunity to view these laws, as posted on their public web site.

As a non-profit organization helping self-employed business owners, we feel it’s all about keeping people informed and compliant. We offer the required courses for business owners, your employees and your subtrades on Fall Protection Awareness, Policies & Procedures, WHMIS, Workplace Violence and more.

If you need information on these, contact us toll free 1-866-366-2930 or by email:

CARAHS is a non-profit 0ccupational health & safety association for self employed construction business owners & employees

Alec Caldwell

Alec Caldwell

Alec Caldwell is the Founder of CARAHS, a Health & Safety Organization. We are approved providers by the Ministry of Labour (Ontario) to teach Working at Heights Training (Pro#34609) Visit the Ministry of Labour's web site to view our listing
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