“Homeowners can be considered general contractors and as such have the ultimate responsibility when it comes to safety at their home/worksite,” says Damon Alcock, services director with the Nova Sco- tia Construction Safety Association (NSCSA). “Although rare, homeowners have been fined for the safety violations of contractors at their home. Homeowners want to protect their home, themselves, their family and their pets, so hiring professional contractors with the appropriate certifications will go a long way in ensuring a successful project.”
The contractor, too, has a responsibility for safety on the site. Alcock says contrac- tors should speak with the homeowner about potential hazards at the site. That includes everything from natural gas pipe- lines or aggressive pets. And the contrac- tor should tell the homeowner about any dangerous tools or materials that may be used in the job.
“Making sure all parties involved in the project are aware of the hazards and controls at the start will make for a more pleasant experience,” notes Alcock.
Approximately 25 per cent of all lost- time injuries within construction occur in the homebuilding sectors. Lowering those figures means thinking about every aspect of safety on a worksite.
“Many people think of safety and visualize hard hats and safety boots, but it is much more than that,” adds Alcock. “It entails everything from wearing and using the proper equipment to prevent falls from heights, securing worksites to prevent people from wandering into dangerous situations, ensuring proper containment and ventilation for work that involves poor air quality such as silica dust or low oxygen levels (carbon monoxide).”
Nothing is a small issue where safety is concerned. Being safe means thinking about everything from turning off utili- ties and making sure a fall can be avoided. Alcock say everything from the cleaning and security of the worksite to nut allergies should be taken into account.
One way to protect everyone involved is insurance. Homeowners should make sure a contractor has coverage with the Workers Compensation Board, that they are a professional builder or renovator, and that they have NSCSA safety certification. Alcock says homeowners should not rely on any homeowner insurance to protect them from additional expenses due to injuries. Those homeowners looking to complete a project on their own face greater risks. Often these risks outweigh the benefits.
“Homeowners need to ask themselves a few questions,” suggests Alcock. “Am I qualified to do this work? Will I void any warranties if I do this work myself? What are the consequences if I get injured doing this work? Will my health insurance through my place of work or my personal life insurance provide support if I cannot return to work? If a homeowner cannot answer all of these questions with a positive answer, they should hire professionals.”
Those working in the industry can ac- cess training and certifications through the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Associa- tion’s main office in Burnside. The Associa- tion also travels throughout the province providing training, certification and consult- ing to anyone that requires it.
Homeowners can always get more in- formation on worksite safety by contacting the Department of Labour and Advanced Education at 902-424-5301 or the NSCSA at 1-800-971-3888.