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Handling a Work-Related Accident on a Construction Site

Handling a Work-Related Accident on a Construction Site

Advice for contractorHandling a Work-Related Accident on a Construction Site

The construction industry is currently facing a surge in workplace accidents due to factors such as labour shortages, tight turnarounds, and other intertwined challenges.

Incidents, whether they occur during work-related tasks or adversely affect the mental or physical health of labourers, often result in the need for extended leaves of absence. To learn how to effectively handle work accidents, read on.

What’s a workplace accident?

workplace accident

Source: Canva

Workplace accidents can be categorized into two distinct types, each having the potential to necessitate varying durations of leave of absence. 


True to its name, an accident is an event of sudden and unexpected nature.

To be considered a workplace accident from a legal perspective, the injury must have occurred whilst a labourer was carrying out a job-related duty. For example, an electrician cuts their finger while sectioning a cable. 

Or, the incident itself occurred at the workplace while the employee was carrying out tasks that aren’t typically assigned to them, but still related to their job title, for example, a welder falls while helping a mechanic hold a tool. 

In both these cases, to be considered a workplace accident, the victim must have been actively working and present at the job site. 

Employment Injury 

Here, instead of the randomness of an accident, it’s very much a question of physical or psychological injury having a cause-and-effect relationship

For instance, this could include a condition such as tendinitis caused by repetitive movements or depression related to workplace harassment between co-workers. To be officially recognized as an employment injury, it must be diagnosed by a qualified healthcare professional

Note that whether it be a workplace accident or injury, the victim will be monetarily compensated during their leave of absence or their medical costs reimbursed. 

Even if you sustain an injury outside of the workplace that requires you to take a leave of absence, your employment is safe.

How to Deal with a Workplace Accident on a Construction Site

workplace accident

Source: Canva

Employee and Employer Obligations

In the event of an injury, it’s imperative that you or a colleague promptly notify your employer. They will be responsible for providing first aid and arranging transportation to the hospital or away from the work site, if necessary. Even if you believe the injury to be minor and don’t require immediate medical attention or departure from work, you must still report it. All workplace injuries or incidents must be documented for proper record-keeping and compliance.

You can consult with the doctor of your choice to receive a medical attestation. If the severity of the accident or injury means that you can’t attend work over the next few days, you’ll need to provide your employer with said attestation

This form can be used to:

  1. Receive 100% of your salary for the remaining work hours on the day the incident occurred. 

  2. Receive 90% of your take-home pay for the next 14 days during which you were supposed to be onsite. 

  3. Submit a worker’s claim with the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST). (Linked article in French only.)

  4. Determine the return-to-work date and duties to avoid in the event of a temporary reassignment. 

How to Submit to Worker’s Claim with the CNESST

workplace accidentSource: Canva

On their side of things, for the first two weeks of your leave of absence, your employer will have to submit an “Avis de l'employeur et demande de remboursement” (Employer’s notice and reimbursement claim – form is only available in French), with the CNESST, of which you’ll receive a copy. 

The next step consists of filling out the “Réclamation du travailleur” (Worker’s claim), which will be used to claim CNESST benefits should you, the worker, be on disability for a period exceeding the 14 paid days by the employer. You’ll have 6 months time from the date on which the incident occurred to submit your claim. 

To facilitate and expedite the process, make sure to submit all required documents, such as medical prescriptions, healthcare bills, medical attestations, worker’s claims, and so on. 

How to avoid forfeiting benefits:

  • Undergo all medical examinations needed

  • Follow recommendations and prescribed treatments

  • Agree to any additional tests requested by the CNESST

  • Advise all parties involved of any changes to your situation (address, health condition, return-to-work date, etc.)

Can an employer deny a worker’s claim or leave of absence?

An employer and/or a union must support and assist an employee in the event of an accident or employment injury.

An employer cannot penalize a worker for taking a justified medical leave of absence or for requesting a claim with the CNESST. 

An employer cannot fire, suspend, discriminate against, or lower the employee's salary or rank. Any such disciplinary action is subject to being reported to the CNESST.

Construction Job Site Accident Prevention

workplace accident

Source: Canva

General Construction Rules

The conditions differ depending on the worksite’s size:

  • 10 or more workers present at the same time on a worksite: the foreman must put together a prevention program prior to undertaking any work.

  • 20 or more workers present at the same time on a worksite: the prevention program must be submitted to the CNESST before work begins.

  • 10 to 99 workers present at the same time on a worksite: the voting majority of employees or the association in question will assign a part-time health and safety representative. 

  • 100 or more workers present at the same time on a worksite or a $12 million project: the foreman has to assign one or more full-time health and safety managers. 

The health and safety representative will be tasked with identifying all potential sources of hazard and providing the worksite committee, workers, the employer, and the contractor with their work safety recommendations. Furthermore, they’ll be active participants during inspections in the event of an accident or during a routine CNESST visit. 

For more information, consult Chapter A-3.001 of the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases, on the Publications Québec webpage. ASP Construction in Montréal offers health and safety training at the FTQ Construction headquarters. 

How to Put Together a Prevention Program

The content of a program dedicated to construction sites is now law-defined. Each and every program is designed according to the worksite in question and based on the type of work being done. New interactive online tools are available in various workplaces.

Prevention program content:

  1. Identify mental and physical hazards

  2. Analysis and explanation of measures established to curb or manage listed hazards

  3. Measures established to monitor, assess, maintain, and follow-up

  4. Compliant personal protective gear

  5. List of health and safety training programs available

  6. Updated inventory of hazardous materials used currently and eventually

  7. First aid instructions in case of an emergency

How does it work in Ontario?

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is Ontario’s equivalent of the CNESST. It’s entirely funded by Ontario’s employers and provides employers with no-fault collective liability insurance as well as providing workers with loss of earnings benefits and health care coverage (the day after the reported incident). Furthermore, this commission provides help and support for workers returning to work after falling victim to a workplace accident or employment injury. 

Contractors must provide a written notice to the following within 48 hours of an employee being injured on a construction site:

  1. The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

  2. The joint health and safety committees or a health and safety representative

  3. The union, if any

The procedures and obligations the contractor must follow very much resemble those mentioned in this article concerning the province of Quebec:

  1. Administer first aid

  2. Provide transportation

  3. Investigate incident

  4. Report event with WSIB

  5. Have injured individual sign a Form 7

  6. Compensate the individual for a full’s day work on the day of the incident

Worth knowing: The complete list of your obligations and the current Occupational Health and Safety Act.

To conclude, here are a few subject-specific articles that could be pertinent:

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Last modified 2023-11-07

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