Its spring and homeowners are beginning work on their roof; landscaping; fencing; air conditioning and more. They call in a contractor to provide a quote and hire them to do the work. How important is it to confirm the contractors’ WorkSafe BC coverage and if they don’t, what could go wrong?

 

What do homeowners need to be aware of when hiring a worker or contractor to come onto their property to do work?

First, consider if the person works for you or if you are a customer. Working for you would be a nanny, home health worker, gardener, chef, or housekeeper over 8 hours a week, or childcare over 15 hours per week. You add the time a job takes per week to determine if they are working for you. For example, if you have 3 workers at 9 hours each for 1 week, with a total of 27 hours, the homeowner would have to register with WorkSafeBC. If that is the case, you need to get your own WorkSafe BC coverage as you are an employer or purchase voluntary WorkSafe BC coverage if you are close to the limit. 

Mostly, when it comes to workers on your property, we are talking about spring contractors where the homeowner is the customer. Jobs where you hire an independent business to do such jobs as landscaping; roofing; pool maintenance; electrician for a hot tub or outdoor lighting; gutter cleaning; thatching or aerating lawns. These are workers who are doing usually physical work on your property. There may be unknown hazards like underground wires or lines or steep roof pitches. Plus, these people are unfamiliar with your home and its various potential hazards. As such, the potential for an accident is a hazard that all homeowners should consider when having a contractor work on their property.

The most important thing is to be sure the contractor has WorkSafeBC coverage. It is the contractor’s responsibility to find out if they are required or eligible to have their own WorkSafeBC coverage. For example, if you hire a sole proprietor with no other workers, then WorkSafeBC coverage is optional for them.

 

If a contractor does not have WorkSafe BC Coverage if they sustain a ‘workplace’ injury at your home, what happens then?

There are several options:

 

How can homeowners protect themselves and what steps can they take to make sure everyone is protected?

Get a Clearance Letter from Worksafe BC before allowing work to commence and again after they finish the job for the entire period of the contract, that tells you if the business or contractor is registered with WorkSafe BC and in good standing. Also, contact your insurance broker and check to be sure that you will be insured, should any accidents happen on your property. Finally, be sure the space the worker is working in is safe from hazards or alert them to the ones that you know of, such as loose gutters, soft roof spots, or underground lines (call before you dig!).

Asbestos is another big one, as of this spring (2022), there are new protections to keep workers safe from the dangers of asbestos, which was a long time coming. Now, anyone working with asbestos has to be certified and licensed and every worker on site has to prove they have the mandatory safety training and certification. It is hard to believe that just is happening now, as 33% of work-related deaths since 2000 were due to asbestos.

 

What can contractors do to be proactive when working at residential properties doing work this spring?

If you have questions and would like a consultation, or for more information, please contact Priddle Law Group at (250) 434-8911 or email reception@priddlelaw.ca to make an appointment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.