Ontario released updated guidelines for the construction industry March 29 to help employers understand their responsibility and what is needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the jobsite. If a construction jobsite fails to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an inspector could issue a stop work order, reported the chief prevention officer.
“The health and safety of construction workers is a top priority for our government,” said Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s minister of labour, training, and skills development, in a press release. “With the COVID-19 situation changing day by day, we are working to ensure that workers have the tools they need to help keep jobsites safe. We must do everything possible to fight the spread of this disease.” Ministry inspectors are still inspecting jobsites during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The updates follow an initial guidance document circulated in March and addresses sector topics, such as:
- providing better on-site sanitation – including a focus on high-touch areas like site trailers, door handles and hoists;
- communicating roles, responsibilities, and health and safety policies by posting site sanitizing schedules and work schedules;
- enabling greater distances between workers by staggering shifts, restricting site numbers and limiting elevator usage; and
- protecting public health by tracking and monitoring workers.
Under Ontario law, employers must take every “reasonable precaution” to keep the jobsite safe. Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work.
If health and safety concerns are not resolved internally, a worker can seek enforcement by filing a complaint with the ministry’s Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.