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New fall protection legislation places additional responsibilities on building owners
On January 1, 2011 the Government of New Brunswick brought in changes to the fall protection requirements in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (91-191). These changes are the first significant amendments to these requirements since they were first written in 1991. The new legislation adopts current industry standards and practices.
As a building owner, you may want to know:
What are my responsibilities under the new legislation?
When building owners undertake construction or renovations, the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act still applies and the owner has several obligations.
In the majority of sections in the new legislation the onus for compliance is spread across three parties, owners, employers and contractors. The triple onus allows for the parties to choose how they comply.
The way an owner is able to meet their obligations is to hire a reputable contractor to undertake the work. Reputable contractors in the province have the knowledge, skills and equipment to complete the job safely.
The only case where the property owner may incur the full liability is when that property owner acts as his own general contractor and actually hires individual employees rather than bringing in a contractor who already has employees.
For example: a property owner wants to install a new roof and hires individual labourers for the job; therefore, the property owner has chosen to be an employer and has all the obligations associated with it. Also, the property owner is acting in all three named roles (owner, contractor and employer) so there are no other parties that the property owner can rely on.
How can I ensure that I'm hiring a reputable contractor?
WorkSafeNB has some suggestions to assist building owners in hiring reputable contractors. Here are some examples of the questions you should ask:
Fall Protection Code of Practice: Who is responsible for the Fall Protection Code of Practice?
The owner of a place of employment, the employer and the contractor share the onus for the development of the Fall Protection Code of Practice. However, it is the employer's and the contractor's responsibility to ensure that all employees who are required to use fall-arresting equipment or all employees who are required to supervise such work are competent in the procedure.
I am the building owner. Do I have to write the code of practice?
No. As owner, your responsibility is to ensure you are hiring someone that undertakes the responsibility of doing the job according to safety standards. The way an owner is able to meet their obligations is to hire a reputable contractor to undertake the work.
Before an employee is allowed into an area where there is the risk of falling, an employer and a contractor shall each ensure the employee is instructed in the fall protection system for the area and in the post-fall rescue procedure, if applicable, and that the employee is competent in the procedures to be followed.
The fall protection plan must be available at the work site and reviewed with workers before work with a risk of falling begins. When conditions affecting fall protection change, the fall protection plan must be updated.