During a webinar hosted by the Ontario Road Builders Association, Keith P. Burkhardt explained what is regulated and what is considered a best practice for construction companies during the pandemic.
According to Equipment Journal, as construction activity resumes, every company will have its own unique response as to how they ensure employees are safe on the jobsite.
"We're encouraging employers to be the best employer out there and to be a leader in their field. Understand, as well, you shouldn't feel like you're being pushed around, and it is your choice to follow best practices, not a legal requirement."
Lawyer with Sherrard Kuzz LLP, Employment & Labour Lawyer | Keith P. Burkhardt
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers are required to provide sanitation facilities and a reasonable amount of drinking water.
For sanitation facilities, employers must provide at least one toilet for every 10 to 15 employees and a cleanup facility or handwashing station for every two toilets.
The supervisor is required to inspect that sanitation system at least once per week and keep a record of it. The act requires the toilet to include a lid, toilet paper holder and supply of toilet paper, sanitary napkin disposal and there must be a structure surrounding the toilet.
Drinking water must be provided via a municipal source or a container with a drain system without increasing the risk of transmission. Some companies are encouraging employees to bring their own bottles to limit contact with a communal source of water.
The Ministry of Labour has requirements for contractors when it comes to sanitation of jobsites.
Burkhardt stated that you don't want the ministry showing up on your jobsite on a regular basis and you certainly don't want the bad public relations or bad press that you may get if there are many complaints about what's happening on your site.
Jobsite signage and communication with employees about a COVID-19 plan should be incorporated.
Some companies set up websites or direct communications like handouts about how the company is addressing COVID-19.
When anyone arrives on the site, they should be asked questions to determine if they could spread the virus.
Creating policies for the sanitation of tools, equipment and high touch surfaces on the jobsite are highly recommended. Jobsite management may also consider regularly sending the same crews to the same site.
Staggered start and end times also helps to minimize contact between the workforce. It doesn't need to be an hour or two difference. It could just be 10 or 15 minutes. Are people able to spread out during breaks and lunch times?
Jobsite management should also consider their duty to protect health and safety and form a strategy for best practices. Workers should wear masks. Even though there are no rules about employees working within 2 metres of each other, employers should take the additional steps to lower the risk of transmission.
Editor's note: This is, indeed, a confusing time for the construction industry. DataBid is working tirelessly to report and distill the news that can help you and your company make the right decisions and keep you up to date on the constant changes as they are made. We hope our coverage brings some clarity amid all the confusion.
Posted by Judy Lamelza