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?
- How can I ensure that I'm hiring a reputable contractor?
- Fall Protection Code of Practice: Who is responsible for the Fall Protection Code of Practice?
- I am the building owner. Do I have to write the Code of Practice?
- When do I need a Fall Protection Code of Practice?
- What needs to be in the Fall Protection Code of Practice plan?
- Where can I find more information?
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:
- Will all building permits and zoning obligations be met? Ask to view them.
- Does the contractor have a health and safety program?
- Does the contractor have a specific health and safety plan for a project like mine? Will it be modified as necessary?
- How long have they been in business?
- What applicable licenses or qualifications do they have?
- What safety training do they have?
- What is their safety record like?
- If they have three or more employees are they registered with WorkSafeNB for workers' compensation coverage? Ask for a certificate of coverage.
- Has there has been any complaints lodged with organzations such as the Better Business Bureau?
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.
- If the employees are working from a height of 7.5m (24.6 feet) or more (eg. two storey house);
- If the employer uses a safety monitor and work procedures when weatherproofing as a means of fall protection;
- If a safety officer requires it if he/she is of the opinion that the two conditions set above do not address health and safety concerns encountered at a workplace at the time of an inspection
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.
- possible hazardous situations, including a description of the hazards and the possible effects on the health or safety of employees;
- the identification of employees at risk;
- the location where the Code of Practice might apply;
- the methods and equipment to be used including inspections procedures;
- the procedures and equipment which might be required in the event of an emergency;
- the times, days, or events during which the code of practice might be applicable;
- the identification of training needs;
- the identification of the person responsible for implementing the code of practice; and
- the name of the safety monitor, if applicable, and the training the safety monitor has received.
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.
- Visit WorksafeNB web page dedicated to information pertaining to Fall Protection.