Keep yourself safe on the jobsite

work safetyIf you’re planning a new build or renovation project, there are plenty of things to think about beside the design and products. Safety is key for any construction project, not just for the contractor, but also for the homeowner, too.

Damon Alcock, director of services with the Construction Safety Association of Nova Scotia (NSCSA) says many homeowners don’t understand they take on a liability when they hire a contractor for a renovation project. “Safety is a two-way street,” says Alcock. “Homeowners and contractors need to sit down and have a discussion about their respective responsibilities. Just because a homeowner hires a professional doesn’t mean they aren’t off the hook.”

There are a few resources homeowners can access to confirm that the contractor they are working with is legitimate. A call to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) will allow homeowners to find out if any complaints have been filed about a company.

Homeowners should also check to see if the contractor is registered with the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) and if the company has liability insurance. If not, any injuries that occur on the property can become a liability for the homeowner.

And of course, homeowners can go to the Construction Safety Association of Nova Scotia website (, which lists firms that have safety certification. Home-owners, says Alcock, should always ask to see a valid “Letter of Good Standing or Certificate of Recognition” from the NSCSA. That website is updated every day with new companies that have been safety certified.

Any new build or renovation project is bound a cause a mess. And while it may be temporarily unsightly for the homeowner, it can also create safety hazards. Before the project starts, homeowners and contractors should work out an arrangement for how the project area will be left at the end of the working day. For example, where are tools or extra building products to be stored when not being used on the work site?

“A homeowner should take a look around to see what the site looks like,” says Alcock. “If there is debris lying around it could be an accident waiting to happen. If the contractor doesn’t take the time to take care of housekeeping, then they probably aren’t concerned about overall safety.”

Homeowners curious about how the project is going may put themselves in danger by entering a space that may not be secure. Alcock also notes that pets and children may be curious, too, so precautions should be taken to keep them from entering the renovation site. Details about housekeeping and the security of the site should be worked out in advance.

If homeowners do their homework, hire a certified, professional contractor and keep the lines of communication open during the project, then the reward will be a successful – and safe — project.

“If you hire an experienced and certified contractor they are there to make sure the homeowner has a good experience, too.”

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent has been working as a freelance writer for the past 12 years. Her work has appeared in The Chronicle Herald, The Coast, the Daily News, National Review of Medicine and Lawyers Weekly. She also works as the editor of Ocean Resources/Earth Resources and Atlantic Boating News

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