Companies often hire contractors to perform jobs where they lack in-house expertise, however these jobs are often high risk. Many incidents involving contractors occur because roles and responsibilities are not clearly identified and understood. Here are the roles, responsibilities and regulations under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The Key Players
In order to ensure that compliance with the OHSA and applicable Regulations when hiring a contractor, having an understanding of the main groups involved is essential.
Who is a contractor?
A person or company that is hired by another employer to perform temporary work or ongoing work. The work is specific and may be carried out for a defined period of time.
Who is an Employer?
The Ontario Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development defines an employer as:
A person who employs one or more workers or contracts for the services of one or more workers and includes a contractor or subcontractor who performs work or supplies services and a contractor or subcontractor who undertakes with an owner, constructor, contractor or subcontractor to perform work or supply services; ("employeur")
Who is a constructor?
An owner can inadvertently (or purposely) make themselves a "constructor" depending on the amount of control or coordination they exercise over the work.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development defines a constructor in this way: "constructor" means a person who undertakes a project for an owner and includes an owner who undertakes all or part of a project by himself or by more than one employer; ("constructeur"). The constructor is ultimately responsible for the health and safety of all workers. Who the constructor is at a particular time or particular phase of the project can sometimes be difficult to determine and may change due to the dynamic nature of the work, the numerous parties involved, and the continuous change in the workforce due to the very nature of construction work.
Who is an owner?
The Ontario Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development defines a constructor in this way:
"owner" includes a trustee, receiver, mortgagee in possession, tenant, lessee, or occupier of any lands or premises used or to be used as a workplace, and a person who acts for or on behalf of an owner as an agent or delegate; ("propriétaire")
Duties and Responsibilities
Duties of employers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
Duties of employers
- (1) An employer shall ensure that,
- (a) the equipment, materials and protective devices as prescribed are provided;
- (b) the equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition;
- (c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace;
- (d) the equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are used as prescribed; and
- (e) a building, structure, or any part thereof, or any other part of a workplace, whether temporary or permanent, is capable of supporting any loads that may be applied to it,
- (i) as determined by the applicable design requirements established under the version of the Building Code that was in force at the time of its construction,
- (ii) in accordance with such other requirements as may be prescribed, or
- (iii) in accordance with good engineering practice, if sub clauses (i) and (ii) do not apply.
Duties of constructors under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- (1) A constructor shall ensure, on a project undertaken by the constructor that,
- (a) the measures and procedures prescribed by this Act and the regulations are carried out on the project;
- (b) every employer and every worker performing work on the project complies with this Act and the regulations; and
- (c) the health and safety of workers on the project is protected.
Notice of project
- (2) Where so prescribed, a constructor shall, before commencing any work on a project, give to a Director notice in writing of the project containing such information as may be prescribed. R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1, s. 23.
Duties of owners under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- (1) The owner of a workplace that is not a project shall,
- (a) ensure that,
- (b) such facilities as are prescribed are provided,
- (c) any facilities prescribed to be provided are maintained as prescribed,
- (d) the workplace complies with the regulations, and
- (e) no workplace is constructed, developed, reconstructed, altered or added to except in compliance with this Act and the regulations; and
- (f) where so prescribed, furnish to a Director any drawings, plans or specifications of any workplace as prescribed.
Other duties of Project Owners and Constructors
Duty of Project Owners under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- (1) Before beginning a project, the owner shall determine whether any designated substances are present at the project site and shall prepare a list of all designated substances that are present at the site.
- (2) If any work on a project is tendered, the person issuing the tenders shall include, as part of the tendering information, a copy of the list referred to in subsection (1)
- (3) An owner shall ensure that a prospective constructor of a project on the owner's property has received a copy of the list referred to in subsection (1) before entering into a binding contract with the constructor.
Duty of constructors under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- (4) The constructor for a project shall ensure that each prospective contractor and subcontractor for the project has received a copy of the list referred to in subsection (1) before the prospective contractor or subcontractor enters into a binding contract for the supply of work on the project.
- (5) An owner who fails to comply with this section is liable to the constructor and every contractor and subcontractor who suffers any loss or damages as the result of the subsequent discovery on the project of a designated substance that the owner ought reasonably to have known of but that was not on the list prepared under subsection (1).
- (6) A constructor who fails to comply with this section is liable to every contractor and subcontractor who suffers any loss or damages as the result of the subsequent discovery on the project of a designated substance that was on the list prepared under subsection (1). R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1, s. 30.
If you do not have a defined Contractor safety programme in place, and need one. Please contact our consultancy team to assist you.
WSPS has partnered with Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA) to provide high quality Health and Safety training and resources. IHSA's training and resources were developed by subject specialists, and reviewed by labour and government to ensure content and approach. Please check out their website to find out more information. www.ihsa.ca