The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, the Construction Employers Coordinating Council of Ontario, the Council of Ontario Construction Associations and the Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario have issued a joint statement calling for jobsites to be kept open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the ever-evolving situation concerning the Coronavirus also known as COVID-19, we are advising that construction worksites in the province of Ontario remain open and that the appropriate preventative measures be implemented and enforced on every construction worksite in the province,” the release stated.
The four organizations call on the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to enhance its enforcement activities to ensure compliance with the requirements outlined below.
The following are preventative steps everyone should be taking now:
- If you are feeling sick, do not go to work or if you’re at work and feel sick, go home
- Don’t shake hands when greeting others.
- Try to stay three to six feet away from others in gatherings, meetings, and training sessions.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcoholbased hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol.
- It is especially important to wash hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
Construction industry employers should also:
- Stagger work breaks (including lunch) to ensure social distancing in the workplace.
- Provide access to soap and running water on all jobsites for frequent handwashing.
- Provide the appropriate hand sanitizer when soap and running water are impossible. Plan for office staff to have the ability to work from home.
The IUOE Local 793 supports the call to keep jobsites operating. “A prolonged shutdown would have a negative impact on members’ benefits, pension and training funds, as they rely on contributions to be able to administer and provide the level of benefits we currently enjoy,” said Mike Gallagher, business manager of IUOE Local 793 in a statement.
“While a short ‘pause’ could be managed, any shutdown of our industry without corresponding government support of pension, benefits and training funds would inevitably lead to reduced benefits and training delivery. Our members’ health and safety are our first priority, and employers and the Ministry of Labour need to step up and enforce safe workplaces and best practices.”
Concern is growing across the country with reports that many construction sites are not following proper protocols on hand hygiene and social distancing designed by health authorities to try to slow the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.
The decision to shut down (or not to shut down) the construction industry will be guided by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in consultation with the appropriate government authorities, construction employers, and the Building Trades Council.