Contractor Safety Requirements—Are You Prepared?

As an employer the popular line of thought is that once you hire an outside contractor, the responsibilities for safety fall entirely on the contractor.  This is a huge misconception which has been proven in the courts extensively.  Take a look at the following for instance:

Just recently Canadian Natural Resources were fined $10,000 in regards to an accident that occurred in 2007 near Fort McMurray.  They were negligent in the fact that they failed to make sure building plans were certified by an engineer and by contracting a company without making sure it was competent to do the work.  Two workers were killed and two others seriously injured when a falling steel structure broke apart due to high winds at an oil sands project.  It was found that the steel cables supporting the roof structure were inadequate and did not meet regulations and that the person who designed the construction procedures was not a professional engineer in Alberta.  CNRL has now taken steps to advance their processes to ensure health and safety standards are consistently met by all contractors.  You can find the complete article HERE!

Although the contracted company was dealt the heaviest fines, the employer, CNRL in this case, was also held responsible. The employer, person or persons doing the hiring, have the greatest degree of control in almost all situations and this responsibility is outlined in OH&S Regulation 5(5): Where a provision of these Regulations imposes a duty or requirement on more than one person, the duty or requirement is meant to be imposed primarily on the person with the greatest degree of control over the matters that are the subject of the duty or requirement.

Although the above regulation is in place it does not lessen or excuse the responsibilities of the others involved.  This is clearly outlined by OH&S Regulation 5(6):  If the person with the greatest degree of control fails to comply with a provision described in subsection (5), the other persons are not relieved of the obligation to comply with the provision if it is possible for them to comply, and they shall comply with the provision.

It is the ultimate responsibility of the employer to ensure that the contractor they hire has all the required qualifications and it’s a good idea to get references from the contractor regarding previous work.  It is also advisable to contact WCB to find out if the contractor is paid to date on their premiums.

This loss of life is very sad and ultimately could have been prevented.  Employers need to be aware of their responsibilities and always practise due diligence.

Available on our website under our ‘resources’ tab is a new ‘Outside Service Provider Information Kit’ that is available for download at no cost! It includes:

  • Contractor; Safety in Saskatchewan—Explained
  • Outside Service Provider Safety Policy & Procedures Template
  • Service Provider Safety Checklist