The health and safety of workers in the workplace is the paramount concern for employers. The health and safety of workers is also a dominant concern to the Ministry of Labour, a concern enforced through the Occupational Health and Safety Act. When a Condominium Corporation hires a Contractor to perform work on its property the corporation not only has responsibilities and duties under the act to protect the health and safety of workers, but also has to ensure the Contractor hired operates under the guidelines of the OHSA.
How can a Condominium Corporation and the Property Manager be confident that the Contractor it has hired is compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act? It is far too daunting a task for the Property Manager to ask for a Contractors Health and Safety manual and then audit the documents to ensure all is in order. A straightforward way of determining that both the Contractor and the Condominium Corporation are both in compliance with the OHSA is using the Contractor Health and Safety Checklist for Property Managers.
As you work through the checklist, you will see what information the Contractor provides to the Property Manager and the Property Manager to the Contractor. A simple check when information is provided or received provides the Property Manager with peace of mind that due diligence has been done ensuring the Contractor is compliant with the OHSA. While not a comprehensive list applicable in all situations this checklist provides a good starting point for Property Managers. If the contractor is unable to provide or agree to any of the items outlined in this checklist there is a good chance they are not compliant with the OHSA leaving the Corporation and the Property Manager exposed in the case of an accident during the course of work.
The checklist touches on the following 8 areas that are critical to review prior to the start of any project you hire a contractor for:
There are five health and safety related components that should be included in any contract you present to your contractors.
- Confirmation that the Contractor will comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, this simple line has huge implications for the Contractor. The Contractor is aware of all of their responsibilities and duties under the OHSA.
- First Aid Regulation outlines the requirement for there to be a certified first aider onsite at all times and details the components that must be in the onsite first aid kit.
- Bill B168 mandates that every workplace have a policy concerning workplace violence and harassment. A copy of the corporation’s policy should be attached to the contract.
- Under the OHSA the Contractor must report and record all injuries that occur on the job. You need to be informed of the injury in the event that an investigation and corrective measures must be taken.
WSIB CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE
Operating primarily under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act the Workplace Safety Insurance Board administers the no-fault workplace insurance for employers and workers. Under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act all employers must have coverage for their workers and be able to provide proof of that coverage through a clearance certificate. In the event of an injury and the Contractor does not have coverage, the Condo Board may be held responsible for the costs associated with the injury. In 2013 Bill 119 comes into effect, this bill amends the WSIA making it an offense to hire a contractor that does not have a valid clearance certificate. If you do hire a contractor without a valid certificate you could be liable for any unpaid WSIB premiums and be prosecuted. Fines will range up to $25,000.00 for individuals and up to $100,000.00 for corporations.
Under the regulations for the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) it is the workers “right to know” of any hazardous materials that they may come in contact with while on the job site. Therefore it is critical that the Contractor present copies of MSDS’s (i.e. carpet glue, paint) for any material that they will be using onsite for the Property Manager to inform any of their employees that may be exposed to these substances while they are working. Conversely, the Property Manager should provide the Contractor with MSDS’s for any material (i.e. pool chemicals) that the Contractors employees may come into contact with. It is important to note that it is the responsibility of the employer to provide this information. A worker should never have to ask what materials they might be exposed to.
In the event that any process or procedure that the Contractor undertakes that presents a special hazard (i.e. airless spray painting) The Contractor must inform the Property Manager of this hazard and the steps taken to limit the risk to everyone on the site. In addition, if the Property Manager is aware of any special hazards (i.e. Asbestos) that the workers may be exposed to during the course of their work the Contractor must be made aware of these hazards.
JOBSITE HAZARD ANALYSIS
Prior to the start of any project, the Contractor is required under the OHSA to conduct a review of the jobsite and determine the hazards that exist and the potential injury to a worker. The Contractor then implements specific personal protection equipment to protect the worker against those hazards. For example if a worker is sanding drywall compound a dust mask is required to be worn. A copy of the analysis is presented to the Property Manager so that they are aware of the controls in place and can monitor for compliance, applying corrective action if necessary
It is important that the Contractor carry liability insurance. Liability insurance protects the Condo Corporation from the risks of liabilities imposed by lawsuits and similar claims related to the current project. Without insurance the Corporation may be held liable for any damage or injury caused by the Contractor.
The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is a Canada-wide system designed to give employers and workers information about hazardous materials used in the workplace. In Ontario, WHMIS applies to all workplaces covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Every worker in Ontario must have WHMIS certification and the Contractor should provide copies of the workers certification prior to the start of the project.
HEALTH AND SAFETY ROOM
Employers have additional responsibilities under the act regarding the health and safety of their workers. There are strict requirements regarding information and forms that must be posted on the jobsite (MSDS, emergency numbers, WSIB poster etc. The contractor should know what he needs to post) along with the duty to conduct weekly health and safety talks. By providing a room for the exclusive use of the Contractor for this purpose you are greatly aiding the OHSA compliance of the Contractor and contributing to a safer workplace.