Roof Inspection problems for Home Inspectors
A number of regulatory and advisory changes have occurred over recent months that have affected the Home Inspection Profession in Ontario. CSA standards, which cover roof inspections in such a way as to leave a massive opening for liability demands that Inspectors pay even closer attention to this area. The loom of rising litigation costs for leaks requires the same diligence.
Working at heights: A no-no!
At the same time, the Ministry of Labour Working at Heights regulations have made it almost impossible for an inspector to legally mount a ladder over 3 metres or to climb onto a roof to inspect. At a recent “Working at Heights” training course several questions were posed. Here were the answers:
- In order to put a ladder up to inspect a roof, the ladder needs to be secured top and bottom to the property.
- Lifting the ladder into position requires two people
- Fall protection must be worn and used at heights over 3 metres
- This means attaching an anchor to the property
When the trainer was queried as to how a single inspector could perform these functions, while at the same time not damaging the property (i.e. screwing an anchor through the shingles to the sheathing) the trainer stated “A single inspector can’t”. This means that, without breaking the law, and/or damaging the inspected property, a Home Inspector cannot climb onto a roof without incurring a possible heavy penalty from the Ministry of Labour. (Inspectors posting “Roofies” on Facebook take note, a selfie of you on a roof is evidence enough for the MoL to issue a fine!)
This leaves the options of inspection by Binoculars, Pole-mounted camera or a drone.
There are limitations to what can be inspected with all three, but by far the least limited inspection technique is a drone with a camera.
The problem here is that all inspections come under the “commercial use” banner and as such require a Special Flight Operations Certificate from transport Canada.
Obtaining an SFOC, even if the pre-requisite training and operations manual showed complete compliance to Transport Canada’s guidelines takes upwards of 20 days to obtain, and one is required for each and EVERY inspection.
To date, the enforcement of the regulations currently in operation has been lax. But we have recently been made aware of a case where Transport Canada has instituted several administrative monetary penalties (of $50,000 each) to a single operator that was operating outside of the regulations, to the point where these AMP’s added up to over $1.3m.
New drone regulations imminent
Thankfully, Transport Canada along with a number of stakeholders have been working on new regulations that will both re-certify the classes of UAV’s and streamline the regulations. Some of this streamlining may mean, under specific circumstances, that the SFOC will not be necessary.
Transport Canada held a technical briefing for stakeholders in Ottawa earlier this week (Tuesday 28th June, 2016).
Because of our past interest in the topic and communication with the team at Transport Canada, OntarioACHI were the only Home Inspection association in Canada to be invited to attend.
Following the meeting, Transport Canada have provided an update to the Stakeholders on the proposed changes to the regulations.
The update is as follows:
Update to Stakeholders on Unmanned Air Vehicles
Following the consultation on the Notice of Proposed Amendment for small Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), weighing 25 kg or less and operated within visual line-of-sight, Transport Canada has been finalizing the policy and regulatory framework.
The Department is currently developing proposed regulations that are expected to be made public in the Canada Gazette, Part I in spring 2017. Stakeholders and Canadians will have the opportunity to provide comments as part of the consultation period.
For stakeholders who may not be familiar with the process for making regulations, regulations are pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I for a formal comment period. Adjustments are made as required based on the comments received and the regulations are then published in the Canada Gazette, Part II and considered final. A transition period is normally provided prior to the coming into force of a new regulation. For more information about the Canada Gazette process: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/cg-gc/lm-sp-eng.html.
At this time, the regulatory exemptions (exemption for under 2 kg / exemption for 2 kg to 25 kg) remain valid and will be updated prior to their current expiry date of December 16, 2016. For those that cannot meet the conditions of the exemptions, until such time as the final regulations are published, you can apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate.
Transport Canada continues to seek a balanced and risk-based approach to both safely integrate UAVs into Canadian airspace and encourage innovation within this important new subsector of civil aviation.
Here are some highlights of the updated proposed policy and regulatory framework based on feedback received from stakeholders on the Notice of Proposed Amendment, industry growth, risk analysis and, where possible, discussions with international partners.
• Removing the regulatory distinction between recreational and non-recreational users.
• Exclusion to be made for modelling associations with robust safety guidelines. Introducing an “unregulated” category with a threshold of 250 g or less.
• Reducing the “very small” weight threshold to 1 kg based on a risk assessments, safety analysis and ongoing research.
• Marking and registration now for “small complex” only. Identification for other regulated categories.
• UAV Design Standard now for “small complex” only (higher risk environments).
• Pilot permit requirement for “small complex” UAVs. Knowledge requirements for “very small” and “small limited” UAVs commensurate to category.
• Adjusting minimum age requirements to mirror manned aviation licensing requirements.
• Regulating some tethered UAVs as obstacles and not regulating indoor operations.
• Requiring liability insurance for all categories of UAVs.
Transport Canada would like to reiterate that these are only proposed changes and are not yet currently in place. The formal consultation period along with the actual text of the proposed regulations will be communicated to all stakeholders for consultation when ready and published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in spring 2017
Although the new regulations appear to remove the disparity between recreational and commercial flying, the direction of the regulations appears to be bringing drone operators closer to the role of regular pilots. The requirements for compliance of drone manufacturing to standards is another move towards ensuring the drones themselves are safer.
Because of the complexities of the changes in these proposed regulations, we believe OntarioACHI may be able to develop a program that will satisfy the new regulations of Transport Canada if they are promulgated.
Your voluntary team has already put a lot of effort into this project and we have a framework for going forward, it is obviously early days, and more work is to be completed to iron out all the details.
As the regulations develop and more information becomes available we will be able to provide better information, but for now we are trying to gauge the level of support for such a program.
Interested inspectors who are considering adding UAV inspection services to their portfolio should contact us.
In the meantime we would discourage inspectors from investing large sums of money into drones purchases, as the regulations may deem some of the drones on the market now illegal. Again, as things progress, we will keep Inspectors appraised of the changes.