The Constructor Role

How To Avoid Fines and Jail Time At Your Building

By SHAWNA SMIGELSKI
, July 2017

You’re starting to prepare for next year’s summer construction; sealant repairs in July, roof repairs in August, and parking garage repairs extending for the full summer – perfect! But when all of these contractors are on site, have you ever stopped to wonder “Who will be responsible for site safety?”. The answer might be “YOU!”.

What's the Big Deal?

If convicted of an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in Ontario, a corporation may face fines up to $500,000 per charge, and individuals may face fines up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.

Who's Responsible?

A common assumption is that each contractor is responsible for their own site safety, however, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act every project must have a single constructor, the party responsible for health and safety on site.

A project is generally defined as any construction project. It does not include regular building maintenance. Usually, a single project is any construction activity at the premises of one address, owned by a person / group / corporation / partnership, with an identified goal during a specified period. In essence, if you have a roof repair project at the same time as a garage repair project at the same address without alternate arrangements (described below), the owner may become the constructor by default.

What Are Our Options?

Being a Constructor places high risk and liability on building owners and condominium corporations. Here are a few options available to Owners to avoid becoming the Constructor:

  1. Work can be completed at separate times; the contractors are working on different days.
  2. Work areas can be distinctly separated so the contractors do not share space.
  3. One of the contractors can be designated as the “Constructor” through a written agreement, often requiring additional compensation.

In order to proceed with Options 1 or 2 the Ministry of Labour will need to be notified. They can designate the work as separate projects, provided a number of parameters are set and agreed to by both contractors.

It is important for building owners to understand Constructor Roles and the associated risks if roles are not clearly defined. Talk to your Engineer about ongoing projects at your building and discuss options available to avoid the unnecessary risk and liability of being the Constructor.