When it comes to home building or renovation projects, it is natural to be fixated on what your modernized kitchen will look like or daydream about your brand new abode. While riding this wave of excitement, it is crucial to consider safety for you and your loved ones.
Safety starts with the builders and contractors you hire. While it may be tempting to select professionals who charge the lowest price, it is more important to hire contractors that will facilitate and set the tone for a danger-free construction project.
“Make sure your contractor is not only professional and qualified to do the work, but is trained to do it safely,” states Damon Alcock, Strategic Services Director with the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association (NSCSA). “Ask for proof of insurance and safety certifications and insist everyone wears and uses all the required protective gear.”
Alcock recommends asking about such key credentials as Worker’s Compensation Coverage, liability insurance and NSCSA’s Certificate of Recognition.
If you are having a new home built it is important to know when and how you can visit the site. “Homeowners should always consult with their contractor or builder before any site visit,” says Alcock. “Construction sites pose many hazards that homeowners may not be aware of.” Alcock adds that homeowners should be escorted through the site with a contractor or another professional who can make them aware of hazard areas.
Homeowners not understanding which spaces and utilities they can and cannot access is a common safety concern during renovations, says Alcock. “For instance, if you are doing a kitchen renovation, will you be able to cook meals, or access the refrigerator? Or when the workers leave for the day, will you be able to use the area or is it completely off limits? It is important to know these answers before a project begins, so you can make alternate arrangements if required.”
Take extra steps for protecting young children during renovations, like arranging for extra childcare or ensuring allergens specific to your kids are not being brought into the home. “Talk to your contractor about site security both during the work day and after hours,” adds Alcock. “Taking tools with them at the end of the day, or locking them in toolboxes are good ways to prevent children from playing with them.”
It may be beneficial to arrange for other accommodations for your pet, points out Alcock. An extremely active and outgoing animal could get into work zones leading to potential accidents. “Pets have been known to chew power tool cords, eat workers’ lunches and drink harmful liquids like paint, leading to costly vet bills,” says Alcock.
Alcock encourages homeowners to be an active participant in promoting safety. “If you have any safety concerns during a renovation, speak to your contractor,” he says. “Keep yourself informed and do your part to not only keep your family safe, but also to help keep your contractor and their team safe.”
The NSCSA has a wealth of information and resources for contractors and homeowners alike and also offers over 40 health and safety compliant courses. www.nscsa.org