By Rosalind Cooper
Which party on a construction project is the “constructor”? While some provinces in Canada use this term, other provinces use slightly different terms, such as prime contractor. All are meant to refer to the party at the workplace that has overall responsibility for health and safety on the construction project. It’s generally that party that’s exposed to the greatest legal liability in terms of safety-related incidents.
For example, under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), constructors have significant obligations. They must ensure that all employers and workers on the project comply with OHSA and the Construction Regulations. The case law has confirmed that constructors will be held to a high standard in meeting those obligations. Therefore many companies go to great lengths to avoid assuming this role on a project.
An Ontario court has recently provided some further guidance on what indicators will be looked at in determining who is a constructor. In the case of R. v. Reid & DeLeye Contractors Ltd., a company was found to be a “constructor,” rather than the construction manager it had contracted to be.
In June of 2005, Reid & DeLeye contracted with a hotel owner to construct a new hotel in Cambridge, Ontario. Reid & DeLeye intended to be the construction manager. The company was responsible for carrying out specific roles during the pre-construction, construction, and post-construction phases of the project.