Prevention System Updates

Hiring home renovators this summer? 9 tips on creating a safety culture that could save you time and money

Release Date:  Jul 15, 2014

Summer is high season for home renovation projects, which are notorious for going over budget and beyond their deadlines. With these nine tips, homeowners can create a safety culture that will protect workers and family members, and in the process help keep the project on schedule and on budget. It’s a wise preventive investment, even if work has already started.

1. Raise safety early in discussions with prospective designers and construction contractors. Possible safety-related topics to ask about include

  • safe building policies and practices
  • using personal protective equipment
  • buying low- or no-emission materials
  • avoiding slip, trip and fall hazards.

This will tell your reno team that safety is a priority.

2. If you’re checking references, ask previous clients about any safety issues that arose during their renos.

3. Obtain the necessary building permits and ensure your contractor and tradespeople are properly licensed and registered with the WSIB. Unless your contractor is performing “exempt home renovation work,” obtain a WSIB Clearance Certificate from the contractor to ensure the business is registered and has paid its premiums.1

4. Allow the contractor a reasonable amount of time to get the work done. Rushing leads to shortcuts, which can cause injuries.

5. Set and enforce performance standards, such as tidying the worksite at the end of every day. Waste materials can hide or create hazards. Request that tools never be left unattended. Standard precautions when tools are not in use include collecting and putting them away, unplugging corded tools, and removing batteries from cordless tools — especially if there are kids around.

6. Set and enforce rules for family members, such as staying out of workers’ way and entering the worksite only with permission and when an adult is present.

7. Limit exposure to dust, irritants and fumes. If you’re living on site during the reno, have the contractor create ventilation barriers between the work area and your living space. Stay away if necessary when noxious tasks are being performed, such as carpet removal, sanding, stripping, painting, or varnishing.

8. Ask for safety updates. Kids and adults love to check on a project’s progress, so use the updates to inform family members of any new hazards and rules.

9. Observe work in progress. If something looks unsafe, speak up. This reinforces your commitment to safety and could help prevent injuries. Safety-conscious contractors will respect your concern.

Given our own busy lives, it’s tempting to just let the professionals do their job. But bear in mind that you’re not just the client. You’re the employer, it’s your home, and it’s your job to watch out for everyone’s best interests. At day’s end, everyone will be the better for it.

1. The Ministry of Labour’s Office of the Employer Advisor explains that independent operators who perform exclusively home renovation work, and who are directly retained by the property owner or his/her family member, are not required to register with the WSIB. Find out more.