Canadian Contractor

Alec Caldwell   

Who owns an Ontario ‘Working at Heights’ certification card, employer or employee?

Canadian Contractor

It's the employee. Yet the employer often pays for the training. This is going to fuel the underground economy, Alec Caldwell fears.

Here in Ontario, after workers successfully complete the (new) required full day Working at Heights course, they are issued a temporary certification card – on the spot. This is supposed to be kept in the possession of the worker until their real card arrives in the mail.

So here’s an interesting question… Who owns the card?

It seems that participants own the cards and NOT the companies who pay for their training. This is a sore spot for many companies, especially those who have high employee turnover like roofing firms. Companies absorb the course costs, yet have no control over these cards. The card does NOT show who the employer is.

In high-turnover trades, some workers may – as we all know – suddenly not show up for work the next morning. The may simply go over to a competitor, just like that. Will employers be tempted to stop sending workers to get their Working at Heights training, if they feel that a particular individual – or a group of them – won’t be around long? Will this drive some companies towards the growing underground economy?


Not to pick on roofing firms, but that particular industry is notorious for having underground operators – some of them using cheap substandard shingles. I can foresee many, many workers  continuing to walk around on roofs, without Working at Heights training, simply because their employers don’t think it’s worth the investment for “temporary” workers.

Let’s hope these workers are not “temporarily” alive, eh?

There needs to be answers to these questions and hopefully my article will bring conversation to fixing these issues.

CARAHS is a Ministry of Labour (Ontario) Approved Working at Heights Training Provider (Pro # 34609)

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5 Comments » for Who owns an Ontario ‘Working at Heights’ certification card, employer or employee?
  1. Steven Brzezynski says:

    I think that the employee should be responsible for their own certificate at their own cost. If I, as an employer state that it is a condition of employement, then they should carry it on their own at their own cost and it my be covered in the hourly wage that I may pay them or they may request. It would make them a more valuable employee to me.

  2. Thanks Steven for taking time out to make comment.

    I think what you say makes total sense, that employees should pay the cost of the course themselves, especially when the Ministry of Labour already sends the cards to them directly, basically giving them ownership at no cost.

    As you added, having the WAH could be a requirement of being hired by a company. This being no different than someone wanting to work at operating a crane. What’s their qualifications for the job!! What certificates do they have and if they’ve none, well don’t expect to be hired. Workers having their own certificates definitely gives them the power.

    Many roofing companies are baulking at the high turn over of training workers, workers leaving immediately after completion of the WAH course or not turning up for work days later or quitting after a month or so. Its a huge expense and somewhere companies may gamble, choosing not to train people. A danger to everyone, maybe because of the current card issue system.

    Thanks again for speaking up Steven. Cheers

  3. Diana Brown says:

    As an employer we do pay for the training. However, the employees are assured that the cost will be deducted from their last paycheck should they quit.

  4. Gary says:

    Firstly, I am not in an industry that has a low turnover. Our certificates/cards including the ‘Working at Heights’ are mandatory for insurance, health and safety etc.

    I agree that the employee should bare the costs for obtaining certification, etc. However, the employer should be able to provide a wage that would allow for this. Ultimately, the employer benefits substantially economically for those mandatory and non-mandatory certifications.

    In most cases it appears that small minded employers simply are using these certificates/cards and etc. a leverage against the employee. Just what type of individuals wants to work for someone else who thinks they own them. I have worked at one company that bent over backwards to facilitate education certification beyond the scope of the immediate job classifications. This was a ‘win win’ situation and at the end of the day the employees went home with their certificates and cards. My current employer is benefiting directly as well.

    So, who do you think should own those certificates and cards?

  5. CRAIG HENDRY says:

    I have lost my working at heights ,how do I go around getting a replacement?

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