Renting Equipment – What Are Your Safety Responsibilities?

Have you ever rented a tool, or piece of equipment that wasn’t in the best condition, but decided to use it anyway? Have you given thought to what might happen if that tool failed and who could be held responsible?

An often-overlooked area within the Occupational Health and Safety Act outlines the Duties of Suppliers (s.31). In Ontario, every person who supplies workplace equipment of any kind under a rental, leasing, or similar arrangement must ensure that the equipment complies with the Act and regulations, is in good condition, and (in specified circumstances) is maintained in good condition.

One of the most publicized cases in Ontario dealing with equipment that was supplied, and not maintained in good condition, was the case involving Metron and Swing N Scaff Inc. Five workers fell 13 stories when the 40 ft. swing-stage, supplied by Swing N Scaff Inc., broke apart in the middle and collapsed. Swing N Scaff Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a suspended platform and/or a component supplied to Metron Construction Corporation was in good condition. They were subsequently fined $350,000. Metron was also charged.

When renting equipment, make sure it is supplied in good working condition. Depending on the nature of the equipment rented, you may need to check for annual and pre-operational inspection records, structural inspection records, engineering reports, and/or maintenance records. If the equipment is not in good condition, do not accept it. It’s not worth the risk!

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