The health and safety guidance developed jointly by the Building Trades, CECCO and COCA have been updated. They have been updated to include recent changes to the Reopening Ontario Act that require the wearing of eye protection when a worker is working within 2 metres of another worker (both inside and outside). This is a requirement even when both workers are wearing masks. It is also important to note that prescription eyeglasses without side shields would not be considered adequate eye protection. Previously this was only required during the interaction with the public but it has since changed.
0n April 16, 2021 the provincial government announced further restrictions to minimize the transmission of COVID-19, given the alarming increase in new cases over the past two weeks among Ontario’s general population. The new measures have a direct impact on certain segments of the construction industry as part of an extended stay-at-home order, which will be in place until at least May 20, 2021.
The number of new cases, especially in Toronto, Peel and York, has increased dramatically. While we firmly believe that the construction sector offers an essential service and has demonstrated an ability to work safely given the stringent workplace protocols that have been established since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also recognize the serious nature of the current situation and respect the government’s decision.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction site outbreaks have usually been modest in comparison to those that have occurred in factories, warehouses and other workplace settings which require thousands of employees to work in close proximity. Looking at the numbers, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has received
20,500 COVID-19 related workplace claims, with only about 600 being from construction-related fields. All things being equal, the construction sector has fared fairly well during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, we want to avoid projecting a false sense of security by letting our guard down.
We are fearful that if the COVID-19 case counts continue to rise dramatically, with some projections estimating as many as 10,000 cases per day or more, the pressure will mount on government to take even more draconian measures and this may eventually result in the entire construction industry being shutdown.
To avoid a complete industry shutdown and the devastating economic and social distress it would cause, we must adhere to an enforceable zero tolerance policy when it comes to workplaces not enforcing masks, not practicing physical distancing, and not practicing all other safety and hygiene protocols. A zero tolerance policy requires all parties to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
Four documents that have been developed jointly by the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council (the Building Trades), the Construction Employers Coordinating Council of Ontario (CECCO) and COCA to advise construction employers, supervisors and workers about the measures that must be taken to keep job sites safe, minimize or eliminate the possibility of virus transmission and keep our industry working.
There are four documents:
- Safety Bulletin Poster
- SafetyBulletin Fact Sheet Workplace Practices
- SafetyBulletin_FactSheet OHSA Responsibilities
We encourage you to distribute these materials as widely as possible. Let’s not give thee government reasons to close down the industry even further. Let’s show the government that we operate safely and that the elements of the industry that were recently shut down should be reopened.
Many thanks for your cooperation.