Many homeowners don't realize that a contract protects them as much as the contracting company itself. The recent news that WorkSafeBC ruled that Gordon Campbell was the prime contractor for a renovation contract where a roofer died is a perfectly horrible example of this. Because Campbell has not assigned someone else to be the prime contractor, that role defaulted to him, the homeowner. This means that he is responsible for the job site and for providing a safe environment for the workers.
WorkSafeBC will provide compensation to the worker's family and Campbell will not be issued a penalty. However, if the worker had not been covered under WorkSafeBC, Campbell would have been financially liable for any any injured workers.
Check out the Helpful Links page for a link to the WorkSafeBC website. There you can request a letter that confirms that your contractor is covered. This case highlights the importance of making sure that you also have a contract that explicitly designates a prime contractor as well.