Our former premier, Gordon Campbell, found out the hard way about this little-known piece of contract law when he was found by a WorkSafeBC report to the be the contractor for an accident in which a roofer was killed when he fell through the skylight of Campbell’s vacation home. Because he had failed to assign the written role of contractor to his general contractor, Mr. Campbell became responsible for coordinating WorkSafeBC coverage for the trades working on his property.
Fortunately for Mr. Campbell, the roofing company which employed the deceased worker carried WorkSafeBC coverage. But how many of us employ contractors, handymen, or cleaning staff, who we do not know for a fact to carry WorkSafeBC coverage?
If something were to happen to a worker at your property, and the worker did not carry WorkSafeBC coverage, you could be held legally liable, and financially responsible, for the worker’s injuries. Before hiring someone, what should you do?
If you hire someone to work on your site (for example, a nanny, gardener, cleaner, window washer) you need to be absolutely sure they are registered with Worksafe BC, meaning that they are paying their insurance premiums and their account is up-to-date.
You can ask the contractor personally if they carry their own coverage, but Worksafe BC recommends you seek a clearance letter to be sure.
In the event that a worker is not registered and suffers an injury in your home/on your site while on the job, WorkSafeBC pays for the worker’s entire medical and wage-loss costs but may come back you to recover those costs. Under certain conditions, as the site owner, you may therefore need to register with Worksafe BC as an employer. (There are times when you do not need to register but it’s always work checking with Worksafe BC to be absolutely sure.)