Residential sub-contractors get failing grade in recent report from Work Safe Saskatchewan

By Shane O'Neill
August 25, 2016 - 5:35pm

Home buyers beware.

A report by Work Safe Saskatchewan released last week has raised the concern of home builders and contractors around the province.

According to the report, less than half of workers observed by Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) inspections used required safety precautions on residential construction sites across Saskatchewan in 2015.

This includes only 48 per cent of all workers wearing approved protective head gear on site, 41 per cent of sites using proper fall protection and 50 per cent of all workers trained in required fall protection plans.

The report focuses on residential home builders only and not commercial sites, which are covered by different regulations and different enforcement.

Dan Yungwirth of Miller Contracting Ltd., said legally, work site safety is the responsibility of the property owner. So home buyers who have already purchased a new home still under construction or preparing to build on property they already own, could be on the hook should there be an injury during construction.

For most home buyers though, contractors provide some form of legal protection.

“We have a clause in our contracts that assumes responsibility from the buyer and makes (the contractor) responsible,” Yungwirth explained.

As for other ways to ensure the contractor a new home buyer hired is up-to-date on all certifications, Yungwirth said options are limited.

“The best way they can do it is to ask for a Workers’ Compensation Board clearance letter, which will show there are no claims against the company and their premiums are paid and up to date, so at least they are protected,” he said.

For Yungwirth and Miller Contracting, safety is a daily priority. The best way to promote proper safety practices and compliance with existing laws is through a two-pronged approach.

“One of the things is education, continual education and training of workers,” Yungwirth said. “The second is the enforcement of safety regulations.”

“At some point, people have to be responsible for what they’re doing,” he explained. “If they’re not working safely, you just get rid of them.”


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