being on roof's & the MOL

has anyone been approached yet by the ministry of labor in relation to being on a roof. I have heard rumors in relation to this, and that in order to be on the roof you have to have a 5 point body harness, and be tied off to something that can support a great deal of weight as well as have a spotter. word has it that if you are caught you can face up to a $5000 fine. with myself since hearing about this I don’t go on the roof, I inspect it from ladders edge and with binoculars, and I record this on the report as well stating due to government regulations. Other people that I have talked about have said they have heard about this, but I have yet to come across someone who has been approached by the MOL

I don’t know how Canada’s ministry of labor works, but the US’s OSHA rules don’t apply to the owner or a sole proprietor. OSHA rules are for employees. They have no jurisdiction over a sole prop whatsoever. Maybe Canada is the same?

This discussion appeared here a while ago and it included removing the service panel cover.

Marc is correct, if memory serves, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Besides how would the MOL guys know you where you are and what you are doing?


We had the owner of the largest roofing company in the area speak at a recent meeting. He was asked if he and his roofers always wear the harness.

He said that when they are working on a roof, they certainly wear all the protection they should. However, he said that when he goes out to examine a roof or to give estimates, he does not wear the harness because that is not considered to be working on the roof. He claimed to have asked the Ministry of Labour about that and they agreed that the protection was needed only when working on the roof, not examining or inspecting it.

Going on roofs is part of our job if it can be done safely. I know I would have missed many problems had I not climbed right up there to look.

However, if your clients are happy with you only seeing some of the problems, go for it.

Bill Mullen

3-4 years ago, the past president of CAHPHI-Atlantic was on a roof in a rural community when a Dept. of Labour inspector stopped and forced him to get off the roof (which he has the power to do; also includes shutting down construction sites). At the next quarterly meeting, we had DOL official in to speak about the laws regarding working at heights over 10 feet.

There is a very fine line between working on a roof, and inspecting a roof. The MOL (Ministry of Labour) is the final word on the what fine you get, if caught, that is not open to interpretation. Fall Protection Training are specified in section 26 of the regulation for Construction Projects.

The other issue that has not been commented on yet here is a site that is under control of the builder. Any person (as Brian noted) MUST HAVE slip and fall training if the roof height exceeds 3 metres (10 feet), and must have the card indicating that they are certified.

It is noted that over the last 20 years falls have accounted for the single largest number of serious accidents and accidental deaths. A “OAHI” home inspector member was killed in such a fall. I know of at least a half dozen of members that have fallen and been injured. For self-employed home inspectors this can have a huge impact on your health but also your financial income.

Personally, I would not consider this topic and the dangers it presents lightly!

The Inspectors went through our area and laid a lot of charges all against Roofers. Fine $300;00 .
They then went back to all and offered to settle out of court with guilty plea and pay $150;00 .
Some did and many did not those that did now have a conviction.
Those that did not all had their charges dropped .
I still do the roof and would go to court for this.
I will always fight for what I feel is fare and proper.
On my way out to an inspection I expect will lead to a court Case will keep all posted as things evolve.

Hi Bill
Where do our SOP say this?

2.1. Roof
I. The inspector shall inspect from ground level or eaves:
[INDENT] A. The roof covering.
B. The gutters.
C. The downspouts.
D. The vents, flashings, skylights, chimney and other roof penetrations.
E. The general structure of the roof from the readily accessible panels, doors or stairs.
II. The inspector is not required to:
**A. Walk on any roof surface. **
B. Predict the service life expectancy.
C. Inspect underground downspout diverter drainage pipes.
D. Remove snow, ice, debris or other conditions that prohibit the observation of the roof surfaces.
E. Inspect antennae, lightning arresters, or similar attachments.

I didn’t say it was in our SOP. I said it was part of our job if it can be done safely.

If you can’t go on roofs safely, then don’t. …but don’t expect the minimal SOP rules to protect you in court. If it is common practice to go on roofs, it’s a good idea to conform.

Bill Mullen

We are hired to tell people the condition of their house. If we never go on a roof I fail to see how we are serving our clients. I see serious roof problems every week that would never be found unless the inspector went right up on the roof.

To each his own, but I believe I am there to help and protect my client.

"for employers and constructors engaging in roofing work…"

From reading the above at link provided it does not include me, a home inspector who has no employee (s) and do not perform repair’s as I am not an employer nor constructor.

Are company owners deemed “supervisor” under the MOL definition?

My earlier point - have you ever been asked to show your “certification card” on a builder’s construction site? I have - and it is a common request to assure safety compliance.

Than is the house being inspected now known as the “workplace”?

My point being - is it worth the chance to not comply with safety in any worplace regardless of the position claimed by the inspector? Is this not about assuring safety, and reducing injuries and loss time and money…

Yes and we have been told we must not open electric panels.
We also had a lot of HIS spend money on roof courses and harnesses.
Can you tell us of One who has been charged and found guilty .
We can go on worrying about what could and what might .
I am satisfied and confidence with their training and education and Will continue until proven I should not.
This industry gets lots of second hand information non stop.
We seldom get facts.

But one can always claim to be an inmate of a correctional or similar institution… and be exempt!

Seriously though I agree, but regardless will still walk roofs and open distribution panels if safe to do so…

Agreed about doing it safely; I am not saying that we should not do our job; but ignorance of the law is not an excuse to avoid a fine - but simply we have little recourse if one is charged.

There have been iminent threats by people in the know that see the dangerous situations that some can create issues. After all, whether one wants to heed ANY INFORMATION POSTED HERE - is entirely their own choice. The issue about opening panels in Ontario started because a homeowner chose to report to the MOL a concern with a home inspector. That is how it can start.

I had a near miss on a roof - it rained enough that I did not go on it, as I would have done in the early stages of the inspection. After inspecting inside - I am glad I did not walk the roof - part of the rafters and roof sheathing was ready for an easy fall through! After that I look below in attic before deciding if it is safe enough to walk a roof.

I guess I go against the grain on this one. Call me unprofessional if you will but I seldom walk roofs even though I’m slim, fit, and an occasional rock climber (with full safety gear).
I used to walk roofs until last summer. That’s when my neighbour fell off the roof of a new shed he was building. He only fell 7 feet but landed badly and broke his back. He’s in a wheelchair and has had to be rushed 3 times to the hospital over the last year for breathing problems. He developed clinical depression and is also being treated for that. He hopes to someday walk with canes but in the meantime the effect on him and his family has been devastating. Life can change in a split second.
So now I do my roof inspections from the eaves and from the ground with binoculars. If I see something amiss, and it appears very very safe to do so (first level, dry, good ladder support, etc) I will sometimes venture up.
I am very thorough in the inspection of the roof sheathing underside and second level ceilings.
To me the client doesn’t come first, my family comes first. If I someday get stung and have to pay out for something I missed, fine. There’s some things money can’t buy.

But we do get HI deaths from falls. Claude mentioned one and there was another in Montreal quite a few years ago…any more???

I didn’t say the client came first. I guess it all depends how you sell your service and how thoroughly you tell people you check a roof…And everything you say is fair. All I’m saying is that we have to make our own business decisions. You have every right to do it your way, as do I.

Maybe I’m more comfortable on a roof because I grew up building houses. I was on house roofs nailing boards (pre-plywood or OSB) when I was twelve years old. That said, I could fall just as easily as the next guy. As I get older I’m sure my comfort level will change, but since our firm does ‘tag-team’ inspections I always have a younger helper who can do the climb if needed. If I consider a roof too high or steep, I give clients the option of paying a roofer friend of mine to do a specific roof inspection.

There is danger in many things we do. I contracted a life-threatening disease about six years ago from exposure to bloody human feces in a crawlspace. It took a year out of my life and cost me $ 18,000 for special drugs (not covered by insurance) but I beat it.

Bill Mullen