Safety is a big concern in renovations and new construction and the onus falls on Homeowners. Even if the homeowner hires a contractor they are still responsible for the safety of the renovation or construction. Having safety in their contract, asking for copies of inspections, ensuring proper safety equipment is on site and there is an established plan in case something goes wrong will help you be prepared.
General Contractors in Good Standing with the WCB
The most impactful thing you can do is hire a professional General Contractor that already has safety protocols and procedures in place, as well as being active and in good standing with WCB. If you are hiring a General Contractor and they don’t think the project is large enough for a safety program or they don’t seem to think safety is that important, the best thing you can do is look elsewhere. Renovations and Construction are High Risk work environments and safety is taken very seriously by the Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia. Once you have found a General Contractor that has a Safety Program in place make sure that your contract acknowledges that the Safety Program is set up and maintained by the General Contractor and that the General Contractor agrees to take responsibility for Safety on your premises. While having this clear distinction in your contract will go a long way to protecting you from claims it doesn’t shift a hundred percent of the onus to the General Contractor.
Cover all Your Bases When it Comes to Safety During the Renovation
Once the contract is signed and the contractor has set up his safety equipment and posted any safety protocols I would recommend the homeowner keeps copies and pictures for their files. In the event of an accident this shows that there was a program in place and it also shows that the Homeowner took safety serious by ensuring that the General Contractor is following through with what they agreed to in the contract. It is good to agree to Safety but if no one follows through then it shows that safety is not actually being applied or practiced. Periodic safety meetings and safety inspections are crucial to setting up a safe workplace. By the homeowner requesting copies for their records shows that they are taking action and being diligent.
Unfortunately there is no guarantee that the job site is safe or that you and your the General Contractor are doing everything possible to ensure a safe workplace. However, having written responsibilities, an established safety plan, safety equipment on site, regular safety meetings and inspections, plus demonstrating safety yourself while on site by wearing things like steel toe shoes all come together to show a show a safety conscious environment. While these suggestions build a good base for safety I recommend consulting your local Safety Authority as the minimum requirements change depending on what region you are in, how close your jobsite is to a hospital, and many other factors.
Adrian Babakaiff, Alair Homes Vancouver Project Manager