Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Workers’ comp coverage for most Ontario construction workers will become mandatory in 2013, but the Toronto-based Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is getting a head start with pre-registration and education.

Registration can be done online or over the phone, while the year-long education effort is meant to ensure those affected know about the requirements and the impact they will have.

The changes will bring independent operators, sole proprietors, some partners and partnerships and some executive officers in construction under the WSIB umbrella and will require anyone hiring a subcontractor for construction work to obtain a certificate from the subcontractor showing registration with the Board.

The only exempt parties are home renovators hired by a homeowner and one executive officer who do not perform construction work.

“Probably about a third of the industry hasn’t been formally covered by WSIB, and the nature of the industry is that people working in construction need to have WSIB coverage and full coverage under the OH&S Act, (OHSA) full stop,” says David Frame, Dir. of government relations of the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) in Mississauga, Ontario.

All OGCA members are already registered, frame reports, but adds they will still be affected if they hire subcontractors. “The biggest change for them will be to make sure everybody on their worksite is registered and is paying. That’s largely a communication issue and we want to make sure the WSIB is going to be going out to the full industry to make sure they understand these new responsibilities and comply,” he adds.

Although OGCA members support the legislation and believe it can help to enhance work-related safety, there is still some hesitation around the whole issue of implementation.

The WSIB has not demonstrated how it will move to individual coverage from a system where companies pay their premiums as a percentage of payroll, Frame suggests. “This, more and more, is going to require the WSIB to identify or find ways to identify who the people are that they are covering.”

My opinion

It is about time for the government to ensure safety compliance in the workplace and the only way to do that is to ensure everybody starts at the beginning and is on the same page. Every day a new company crops up, specialists in their own field (roofers, shinglers, landscapers, etc.) with some expertise in their field but none in the business world, and definitely not in safety! There has to be a base for all to start with and in this case the government of Ontario, the Ministry of Labour, and WSIB are all working together to ensure that everybody registers and understands his or her responsibility under the law.

As an example of all of this, the Ministry of Labour has introduced the “Working at Heights” legislation that became enforceable April 1, 2015. Thank God this type of legislation has been introduced. I wonder how many of you, my readership, has either driven by or been on a construction site and watch people not be tied off as a way of protecting themselves from a fall? More often than not, I would wager. In fact, I would like to relate an issue that I witnessed on a construction site a couple years ago in the city of Oakville. A tele-handler forklift operator was lifting a 3-sided aspenite man-lift with two people in it. They were placed about 30 feet off the ground, up tight against the side of the wall, placed the park brake on, shut the vehicle off and then made a side trip to Timmy’s for the crew. Under the regulations, any type of man lift has to have an emergency release and in this case the driver is the emergency release and the regulations state that the machine controls have to be attended at all times. If the reader has not added up the number of contraventions then I will list them;

1) the Aspenite man-lift was not engineered, no possible engineered anchor,

2) the Aspenite man-lift only had three sides,

3) the driver did not have a record of training,

4) the driver was not allowed to leave the workers unattended,

5) Oh yes, the driver, then, walked under the man-lift to drop off the coffees.

6) The sight supervisor was told about the concerns and refused to act,

Section 66 of the OHSA states that personal fines could be up to $25,000 for each contravention and here we find the driver possibly subject to $125,000 in fines and the site supervisor $25,000.

As well, the employer could easily become complicit and face fines if it was found out that the driver was not trained properly.

Section 25, of the OHSA demands that the worker receive the information, instruction and supervision to do his/her job.

I guess we all have plenty of stories, hence the reader has a firm understanding of the need for change in legislation.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’,’Construction Safety Awareness’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.