Small Contractor Guide to Health and Safety

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Construction Safety Association of Ontario

Summary Statement

A guide for small contractors in Canada that describes steps to be followed to ensure safety, including a discussion of regulations and a listing of places to call for additional information.

Follow 5 basic steps.

Register your company with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). As an employer, you're legally required to do so. You will gain immediate benefits:

  • No-fault health and safety insurance
  • Protection from lawsuits
  • Coverage for lost wages and health care costs
  • Help in safely returning injured workers to work
  • Access to products and services from the Construction Safety Association of Ontario (CSAO) most of them free.

Report injuries to the WSIB and Ministry of Labour (MOL) as required by law.

  • Investigate injuries to keep them from happening again.
  • Comply with regulations.
  • Create a more safety-conscious company.
  • Demonstrate due diligence by implementing an effective health and safety program.

Know your health and safety responsibilities as an employer and as a supervisor. Register for CSAO's Basics of Supervising. You can take the program in the classroom or at home.

  • How to supervise health and safety
  • Motivation and communication
  • Legal responsibilities
  • Developing health and safety programs
  • How to investigate accidents.

Train your employees--or arrange training through CSAO. Realize the benefits when workers know health and safety practices, rights, and responsibilities.

  • Lower injury rates
  • Lower compensation costs
  • Better worker morale
  • Fewer stop-work orders
  • Competitive advantage in bidding on jobs.

Wherever personal protective equipment or clothing is required by law or by the work being done, be the first to wear it.
  • Show your commitment to health and safety.
  • Demonstrate compliance with the law.
  • Set an example for your employees.



Know the health and safety system.

What must you do? Who can help? How?

You must

  • have appropriate WSIB coverage
  • report all injuries requiring health care
  • cooperate in the return to work process
  • follow first aid regulations under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
Hamilton 1-800-263-8488
Kitchener 1-800-265-2570
London 1-800-265-4752
London 1-800-265-4752
Ottawa 1-800-267-9601
Sudbury 1-800-461-3350
Thunder Bay 1-800-465-3934
Toronto 1-800-387-0080
Windsor 1-800-265-7380

  • Prevention
  • Health Care
  • Return to Work
  • Compensation

You must provide mandatory health and safety training and information:

  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • first aid
  • traffic control
  • fall protection
  • other programs

Construction Safety Association of Ontario (CSAO), now Medical Device Reprocessing Association of Ontario (MDRAO)
Fax 416-674-8866

  • Training
  • Consultation
  • Technical Services and support
  • Print, video, and digital information

You must
  • report all critical and fatal accidents to the Ministry of Labour (MOL)
  • ensure that mandatory legislated training is delivered
  • file a Notice of Project where required by the MOL
  • appoint competent supervisors
  • establish a written health and safety policy and program

Ministry of Labour (MOL)

Toronto 1-800-268-8013
Central Region (Downside) 1-800531-5551
Eastern Region (Ottawa 1-800-267-1916
Northern Region (Sudbury) 1-800-461-6325
Western Region (Hamiliton) 1-800-263-6906


  • Legislation
  • Pre-job meetings
  • Information
  • Inspection
  • Investigation
  • Enforcement

Understand the costs.

For various reasons, smaller construction companies have a higher rate of injury than larger companies. As a small contractor, you must pay particular attention to health and safety.

A single workplace injury can have a devastating effect on business. Costs include:

  • pain and suffering for victim and family
  • increased compensation premiums
  • an average cost of $34,000 and 28 days off work for each lost-time injury
  • time to train replacement worker
  • low morale
  • delays and lost production
  • equipment and property damage
  • possible prosecution by the Ministry of Labour.

Establish a health and safety policy.

An Ontario employer with more than five employees must "prepare and review at least annually a written health and safety policy and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy" (Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 25). Even if this requirement doesn't apply to your business, it's still a good idea to have a policy and program in place to save lives and money.

  • Prevent workplace injury, illness, and death.
  • Improve your company's health and safety performance.
  • Demonstrate due diligence.
  • Earn WSIB rebates.
  • Eliminate Ministry of Labour stop-work orders and fines.
  • Raise employee morale.
  • Improve your company's image and reputation.
  • Gain the competitive edge with clients who require proof of good safety performance.

The policy statement must emphasize management commitment to accident prevention.

Sample Policy

It is our policy to perform work in the safest possible manner consistent with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the regulations made under the Act. Protecting employees from workplace injury and disease is a major continuing objective.

Supervisors will be held accountable for the health and safety of workers under their supervision. All employees must work in compliance with health and safety legislation and with the practices and procedures spelled out in this policy.

It is in the best interest of all parties to consider accident prevention in every activity. Commitment to health and safety must form an integral part of this organization. Compliance with the health and safety policy and program will be regularly reviewed at all employee levels and violations will be recorded. The procedures in this policy have been formulated as a guide to assist you in enjoying a safe, productive future.

[company owner, president, or chief executive officer]

Date _________________________

Program A health and safety policy by itself is not enough. You need a program to implement and support the policy. The program should cover areas such as:

  • health and safety responsibilities for every
  • level of employee
  • injury reporting
  • personal protective equipment
  • measures to prevent or arrest falls
  • ladders, scaffolds, and other work platforms
  • power tools and equipment
  • occupational health precautions.

One phone call will do it.


For sample policies and programs,
ask Customer Service for a copy of B041 or B042.

For help in drafting your own policy and program,
ask Training and Advisory for consultation.

Be prepared on site.

Construction employers are required by law to have certain items posted or otherwise available in the workplace. As a contractor, you are required to do at least the following.

Post on site

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations for Construction Projects
  • Company health and safety policy
  • Any Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspector's orders and reports
  • Written emergency procedure (refer to Emergency Response Planning [B030] available from CSAO)
  • WSIB poster on how to report injuries (P085 available from CSAO)
  • MOL notification form if the project is valued at more than $50,000 or falls under one of the other conditions in Section 6 of the construction regulation (Ontario Regulation 213/91)
  • Address and phone number of nearest MOL office
  • DANGER signs in hazardous areas
  • Location of toilet facilities
  • Valid certificate of first aider on duty
  • Name, trade, and employer of health and safety rep, if applicable.

Have available on site

Material safety data sheets for any controlled products used on site and covered by the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)

  • Fall-arrest rescue procedures
  • Employee trained in first aid
  • Records of first aid treatment given
  • First aid kit that meets requirements of Regulation 1101 under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

Know the law

One book is absolutely essential for what employers and workers need to know about health and safety on site. That's the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations for Construction Projects (Ontario Regulation 213/91).

Regulations covering every aspect of health and safety on construction sites are spelled out in the "green book."

Topics range from protective equipment to housekeeping, from confined spaces to traffic control, from ladders and scaffolds to welding and cutting.

Copies are available from Publications Ontario at (416) 326-5300 or from CSAO at (416) 674-2726 or 1-800-781-2726.