OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 1 Definitions and General Application

Section 2 Extended application of Code

Subsection 2(1)

The OHS Act makes the prime contractor responsible for establishing and maintaining a system or process that ensures compliance with the OHS Act, Regulation and Code. The prime contractor is required to monitor activities at the work site to ensure that the health and safety system is functioning properly. This is intended to be a high level “oversight” or “auditing” function.

Obvious instances of non-compliance are considered to be a breakdown of the health and safety system. The prime contractor is expected to intervene, altering the health and safety system if necessary. If the prime contractor notices an imminent danger situation, the prime contractor is expected to intervene immediately to correct the problem and prevent worker injury.

The prime contractor is also responsible for ensuring that first aid services, equipment and supplies required by the OHS Code are available at the work site.

Subsection 2(1) of the OHS Code extends the scope of the prime contractor’s responsibilities in cases where equipment is installed by or on behalf of the prime contractor. In such cases the requirements of the OHS Code that have to do with the design, construction, erection or installation of that equipment apply to the prime contractor as if the prime contractor were an employer. Subsection 2(1) most often applies in those situations where a prime contractor erects or installs equipment that is shared among multiple employers. Sharing equipment in this way may have safety, logistical and economic advantages. It also avoids confusion as to who is responsible for the initial and ongoing safety of the installed equipment.

Examples of equipment that can be erected by or on behalf of a prime contractor and for which the prime contractor has responsibility include:

(a) toilet facilities – the prime contractor can have these installed for use by all employers at the site rather than having individual employers supply toilet facilities for their individual workers;

(b) scaffolds – erected by or on behalf of the prime contractor, multiple employers may then use the scaffolds throughout the lifetime of the project. Individual employers need not erect and dismantle scaffolds for use by their own workers. The prime contractor retains responsibility for inspecting and maintaining the scaffolds;

(c) guardrails – once installed by or on behalf of the prime contractor, the guardrails remain in place for the duration of the project;

(d) garbage and waste disposal – in many cases it may be more efficient if the use and removal of waste bins is coordinated through the prime contractor;

(e) propane tanks for site heating – this is a shared resource that may best be looked after by the prime contractor;

(f) high quality entry and exit ramps – used at construction sites by workers entering and leaving the premises, this is a shared resource that may best be looked after by the prime contractor; and

(g) fall protection anchorages – if used by multiple trades and employers during a project, installation of anchorages by a prime contractor may be a preferred option. This approach may minimize any potential damage resulting from each employer installing his or her own anchorages at the site.

Subsection 2(1) does not require the prime contractor to erect or install this shared equipment. It remains the prime contractor’s option to do so. If equipment is installed by or on behalf of the prime contractor, then subsection 2(1) is triggered. The prime contractor must then comply with the requirements of the OHS Code that have to do with the design, construction, erection or installation of that equipment as if the prime contractor were an employer.