Health and safety responsibilities lie with contractors

But in the construction industry supervision can cloud the issue
By Stuart Rudner and Richard Oliver
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/22/2005

Many contractors assume they have no responsibility for the health and safety of a subcontractor’s employees. After all, they’re not the contractor’s employees, so why would they be responsible for them? Before making such assumptions, a contractor should look carefully at its relationship with those who are doing the work.

In Ontario, the authority for a contractor’s responsibility over the health and safety of subcontractors comes from the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The act defines an employer as a person who employs one or more workers or contracts for the services of one or more workers. The definition includes a contractor or subcontractor who performs work or supplies services, as well as a contractor or subcontractor who undertakes with an owner, constructor, contractor or subcontractor to perform work or supply services.

A “worker” is defined as a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation.