The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (or RESCON) has released a “best practices” guide and urges all employers to follow it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Safety has and always will be the industry’s top priority,” said Richard Lyall, RESCON president. “Site safety is the builders’ responsibility and they must work with sub-trades employers to ensure all on-site workers and worksites are safe.”
“As always, the Occupational Health and Safety Act allows workers to refuse unsafe work. This longstanding workplace protection has not changed,” added Patrick McManus, acting executive director with the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association.
“As a new normal emerges and the construction industry adapts, we recommend a case-by-case and site-by-site approach to new and enhanced safety protocols, rather than a blanket approach to construction by officials.”
The RESCON best practices guide includes seven safety recommendations developed by health and safety experts. They come from a document called “COVID-19: What you need to know about Health and Safety and Working On-Site.”
- Maintain good personal hygiene;
- On-site sanitation – all employers have the obligation to provide access to handwashing stations with soap and water, washroom facilities, commonly touched surfaces or areas, and an increased cleaning schedule;
- Practice physical distancing;
- Communicate policies – employers must ensure everyone on site has a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities in health and safety;
- Protect family and roommates – on-site workers should wash clothes when returning home;
- Report illness to a supervisor and call public health immediately, followed by going home and self-isolating for 14 days; and
- Track sick workers – this will allow employers to better inform public health professionals.
About 400,000 people work in the Ontario construction industry.