Whether you're a homeowner or a renter, you may need WorkSafeBC coverage when you hire people to work in or around your home; or if you are the prime contractor in the construction of your own home.
Although it is a very important process to protect yourself from fines and liability, it seems that the majority of people aren’t aware of the rules and coverage required with hiring help or doing renovations and repairs. This leave them exposed to potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation costs if someone is injured on the job.
For example, former premier Gordon Campbell failed to assign the role of “prime contractor” to the contractor whose company was renovating his vacation home.
An accident occurred where one worker lost his balance and fell nearly eighteen feet to his death. At the time he was wearing a fall arrest harness but had not secured it to an anchor point. Three other employees of the company were also on the roof, all without fall arrest equipment.
Paul Devine, a lawyer with Miller Thomson who specializes in health and safety law, said:
“Most homeowners would go out and hire as a contractor and assume they would bring in all the subtrades and make sure they are looked after. The problem is under the legislation it says you have to assign a prime contractor in writing and if you don't the owner becomes the prime contractor. Homeowners, whether they are hiring one or more contractors should always assign the role of prime contractor to one company.”
In Campbell's case, there were three separate companies working on his project, two groups of carpenters and the roofers. All were registered with WorkSafe, but because no one was assigned as ‘prime contractor’, the role of ensuring they all complied with health and safety regulations fell to Campbell, something investigators said the former premier was unaware of. Campbell was not on the site when the accident occurred.
In cases where contractors aren't registered with WorkSafe, homeowners are fully liable for any compensation costs.
Knowing If You Need To Register With WorkSafeBC
Hiring your own worker
For childcare, you may need coverage for someone who provides care before or after school, such as a babysitter or part-time nanny.
Ongoing services around your home
You may need coverage for an individual who provides ongoing home services, such as a gardener, chef, housekeeper, home health worker, or full-time nanny.
Projects around your home
You may need coverage for individuals who provide one-time home services, such as cleaning gutters, painting, and renovation.
*Note: Calculate the total hours worked to complete the job, regardless of how many workers there are.
For example: If three workers work nine hours each, the job will take 27 hours to complete, and the homeowner would be required to register with WorkSafeBC.
Hiring an independent business
As a homeowner, you’re not eligible to register with WorkSafeBC unless you hire a worker. If you only hire independent businesses, you do not need to register. This is because that business is independent and would not be considered your worker.
Examples of an independent business include:
- A limited or incorporated company (in other words, they have Inc., Co., or Ltd. after their business name)
- An individual who provides a service (for example, gutter cleaning) and has multiple clients
- An individual who supplies all the labour and materials for a fixed contract price
Before you hire an independent business, you should always make sure that business is registered with WorkSafeBC and making payments as required. If it is not, you could be held responsible for its premiums. You can check the registration and payment status of a business if you get a clearance letter from us.
Being the prime contractor in the construction of your own home
If you are acting as the prime contractor in the construction of your own home you are subject to the health and safety provisions of the Workers Compensation Act and also may be required to register with WorkSafeBC. Learn about rights and responsibilities for workplace health and safety.
Be sure to get a clearance letter for each contractor to make sure they're in good standing with WorkSafeBC; otherwise you could be held jointly liable for any unpaid WorkSafeBC insurance premiums if the contractor you hire does not pay their premiums during the period they worked for you. Learn about responsibilities for contractors and subcontractors.
Until next time,