April 21, 2020

The health and safety of workers is a top concern amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, all parties must place an increased focus on health and safety in order to keep job sites open. The Ontario government has released the following update regarding health and safety best practices on construction sites during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Post your policies:
All employers/constructors need to post and communicate COVID-19 policies to employees and contractors or trades.

Ministry of Labour reporting requirements:
Employers must report all known positive test results for COVID-19, to:

  • the ministry (in writing) within four days
  • the joint health and safety representative
  • a trade union (if applicable)

Physical distancing (two metres): 
Physical distancing will result in lower staffing on job sites. In order to keep sites open, employers will need to adjust production schedules as the impacts of physical distancing become clear. Owners and trades will need to collaborate to ensure there is a clear understanding of how production will be impacted. In order to ensure physical distancing on site, employers should consider:

  • staggering start times
  • staggering breaks
  • staggering lunches
  • restricting the number of people on-site and where they are assigned to work
  • controlling site movement (by limiting the potential for workers to gather, including personnel in material hoists and site trailers)
  • limiting the number of people who use elevators and hoists at one time
  • holding meetings in an outside or large space to enable physical distancing
  • limiting unnecessary on-site contact between workers, and between workers and outside service providers, and encourage physical distancing in these areas (for example, by removing coffee trucks from site)

On-site sanitation: 
While employers always have an obligation to maintain clean worksites, that obligation is under sharper focus during an outbreak like the current COVID-19 pandemic. Employers should focus on:

  • access to soap and water (ways to properly clean hands) or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • washroom facilities
  • sanitizing commonly touched surfaces or areas (hoists, site trailers, door handles, equipment, residential units)
  • avoiding the sharing of hand tools and power tools. If sharing is necessary, enable sanitization of shared equipment.
  • posting signage on hygiene in English and the majority workplace language so everyone can understand how to do their part