COVID-19 safety protocols must be followed on-site
April 20, 2021
On Monday, BILD held a briefing call with members and Ron Kelusky, Chief Prevention Officer/Assistant Deputy Minister with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD). The following summarizes key points that were raised on the call.
As the third wave of the pandemic continues to put strain on Ontario's health system, we remind members that our industry’s ability to be designated as an essential workplace hinges on our strict adherence to provincial requirements. The government began targeted province-wide inspections of construction sites last week. Workplace inspectors, supported by provincial offenses officers, will visit 1,300 construction sites in the coming weeks to enforce safety requirements.
Mr. Kelusky urged all members as a best practice to:
- Communicate to employees on site and reinforce the need to adhere to strict masking and eye protection protocols where a two-metre separation cannot be maintained. In addition, it is recommended that personal protective equipment (PPE) used be medical grade. The guide on using masks in the workplace is a good resource.
- Pay specific attention to break and lunch rooms to ensure that a two-metre separation is enforced when people are eating and not masked, and that during breaks, either two-metre separation or masking are strictly enforced.
- Discourage carpooling and/or use of vehicles by more than one person. Where this is not possible and a physical barrier such as a Plexiglass barrier does not separate vehicle passengers, the passengers and the driver must wear eye protection and a medical grade mask.
- Encourage staff to wear masks at all times, even if working outside. A common complaint, often noted in the media, has been construction workers not wearing masks. This is fueling speculation that construction sites are a major source of infection and leading to pressure on officials to take action.
- Pay close attention to on-site sanitation procedures, ensuring that tools and common areas are routinely and properly sanitized. Ensure that sanitizer is available.
Mr. Kelusky indicated that inspectors will be out in force this week and paying specific attention to the above.
Rapid Testing Update
Mr. Kelusky indicated that rapid testing has been deployed on some large construction sites to good effect. He urged that members who are interested should consider implementing rapid testing as a voluntary proactive measure. Test kits are free to companies that meet certain thresholds, but the cost of administering the test must be borne by the company. The company must also sign a contract to agree to use the tests for the intended purpose and to report aggregate data. Read more information. Members who are interested should contact Viki Krstev at the MLTSD.
The government continues to fine-tune its vaccine plans. As previously indicated, construction workers are to be included in phase 2, subject to availability and exclusive of vaccinations currently happening in hot zones and community-based pop-up clinics.
There is a possibility of employer-sponsored vaccination clinics in hot zones in the future. Interested companies should email the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force to submit requests for vaccinations on-site, shared with the community in hotspot locations. The request should include location and address, facility description, number of employees, if location was subject to an outbreak, willingness to open for community to receive the vaccination and the provision of resources to administer and coordinate the process.
We strongly urge all BILD member companies to revisit their COVID-19 safety plans and take all necessary steps to protect workers, clients and members of the public. As a reminder, the Ontario government website has guidance for construction site health and safety. In addition, ensure that any office spaces are also compliant with public health and workplace safety measures.