Homeowners Beware: Are Your Contractors Insured?

Here’s a BC law that might surprise you.

Let’s say you hire a contractor to fix your roof. The contractor slips while on the job and is seriously injured. The contractor is not covered by WorkSafe BC insurance.

Who is liable for the contractor’s injuries?

You. The homeowner.

Anyone working on your property for more than 48 hours must have insurance coverage with WorkSafe BC. For those not insured, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to register their workers, pay their premiums, and provide a safe and healthy work environment.Most homeowners are completely unaware of this responsibility. But failure to follow these steps might find a homeowner liable and responsible for paying costs associated with a worker’s injury or death.

Below is an excerpt from the WorkSafe BC website:

When you hire someone to work in your home to meet your personal or domestic needs, you are considered a residential employer. Whether you hire the worker on a full-time, part-time, or casual basis, you may need to register for WorkSafe BC insurance coverage if you hire:

  • Nannies, companions, or other personal caregivers
  • Domestic workers such as household cleaners
  • Construction or repair workers or contractors
  • Gardeners or landscapers

You do not need to register if you hire a person:

  • For an average of less than eight working hours per week
  • For a specific job to be completed in less than 24 working hours. In determining how long a job takes, it is the total person-hours for the job that is relevant. For example, if three workers work for nine hours each, WorkSafe BC considers that job to be for a period of 27 hours.
  • To care for children before and after school for an average of less than 15 hours per week
  • Through an agency registered with WorkSafe BC, where you pay the agency directly
  • Who is independently registered with WorkSafe BC

A similar WorkSafe incident involving former premier Gordon Campbell was reported in The Vancouver Sun.

The article says that Campbell hired a number of contractors to complete a renovation project on his vacation home on the Sunshine Coast. One of the contractors, a roofer, died while on the job after falling through an open skylight.

Campbell had hired multiple contractors for his renovation. But because the role of “prime contractor” was not assigned to any of the contractors, Campbell was, by default, responsible for ensuring the safety of all workers involved.

Campbell is understandably unhappy about WorkSafe BC’s ruling, but says he won’t appeal the decision. His main concern is for the family and friends of the man who died while working on his roof. Campbell says there are lessons in his story for all concerned, and that he hopes we will all learn and do what we can to keep the workplace safe for workers.

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Slater Vecchio LLP is a boutique law firm with offices in British Columbia and Quebec. Over the past 20 years, Slater Vecchio has represented thousands of clients and has grown into one of the most successful personal injury and class action firms in the Country.