Neighbours calling the Ministry of Labour about you?
The Ministry of Labour has watchdogs near almost every residential construction site in Canada. They are called neighbours. And they just love getting the inspectors to come out.
By Alec Caldwell
It seems to me there is now a higher volume of residential neighbours calling to complain to the Ministry of Labour, at least in my part of the country, about the new construction going on around them. Complaints vary from dangerous work practices, to vehicles parked all over the place on the street, to too much noise coming from the jobsite, to dust complaints, complaints about fumes, access to their own properties being disrupted. You name it, they will call the MoL about it.
Once a complaint is received by the Ministry of Labour, an inspector normally appears at the jobsite in short order.
This recently happened to one of our CARAHS contractor members after the MoL received a complaint from a homeowner near his jobsite. He was working in the Beaches area in Toronto, restoring an older home. He tells me the inspector identified himself saying, “I’m here to investigate a complaint” before proceeding to quiz our member on his activities. He even asked to go through his vehicle, which the MOL has the power to do.
The outcome you want from this kind of visit is to show you are as compliant as possible. You should be prepared for a job site inspection anytime, and this preparation includes making sure everyone on your jobsites carries their Fall Protection Awareness and WHMIS course completion cards. This includes the builder, main contractor, subtrades, site supervisors, project managers, employees, even (technically, legally) material delivery people. Basically everyone on the job site except the homeowners.
You are in violation of the Occupational Health & Safety Act if you or your workers cannot produce these immediately upon request from a MoL Inspector. Violations can bring fines, immediate job site closure and prosecution.
Our member was prepared and emailed us soon afterwards saying, “Thanks for stressing the need to be prepared if the MOL stops by.” The inspector thanked our member for his understanding, patience and for being two steps ahead of him. He said he would inform the complaining neighbour that all was in order and that there were no violations occurring.
Again, I’d like to remind everyone to be prepared. If your jobsite were to be shut down for safety violations, that might not go down well with the person hiring you. Can you afford this gamble? Or, even worse, to be put on the MOL radar as a company to watch?
If you need information on Fall Protection or WHMIS, CARAHS now can help you and you don’t even have to be a member.
CARAHS in a not for profit organization Toll free 1-866-366-2930 www.carahs.org