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Further Information Regarding COVID-19 and Non-Essential Workplace Shut Down
Posted: Mar 24, 2020

 

Late last night, the Government released the full list of “Essential Workplaces” which are permitted to continue operating, highlights of which are relevant to the construction industry include:

  • Supply chains, supporting other essential businesses;
  • Business providing support and maintenance to institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties, including:
    • Property management companies;
    • Plumbers and electricians;
    • Custodial, janitorial and other cleaning services;
    • Security, fire safety and sprinkler systems; and
    • HVAC, escalator and elevator technicians;
  • Businesses providing or supporting IT networks, technical facilities and telecommunications services;
  • Construction projects and services associated with:
    • The healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space;
    • Ensuring safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors;
    • Construction and demolition in the ICI and residential sectors; and
    • Supporting health and safety and environmental rehabilitation projects;
    • Road construction and maintenance;
  • Businesses engaged in the operation, maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure (such as railways, dams, bridges, highways, erosion control structures, etc.);
  • Professional engineers;
  • Environmental management, septic haulers, exterminators, and industrial sewage management;
  • Waste, landfills, hazardous waste disposal;
  • Government licencing and permit services;
  • Banks, credit unions, insurance, pension and employee benefit services, and payroll companies;

Complete List of Essential Workplaces
Non-essential businesses who are impacted by the mandatory closure order are still permitted to continue operating online, by phone, by mail/delivery, and through remote working arrangements.  The mandatory closure will be in effect for a minimum of 14 days, with the possibility of a further extension
Even though a great number of construction projects will be deemed essential, please keep in mind that employers are required to exercise due diligence measures to ensure the safety and health of all workers.  This is especially true during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Here are some guidelines for construction sites.  We recognize that implementing some of these is not an easy task, however, we are dealing with an unprecedented situation in our industry:

  • Reduce the number of people on-site to facilitate social distancing of meters between workers.  If needed, adjust schedules or scale back.
  • Wear PPE at all times as long as it is safe to do so - safety goggles, masks, and gloves.
  • Workers should not congregate in break areas and lunchrooms.
  • Workers should not share PPE.
  • Workers should not share tools.
  • Introduce extra handwashing stations.
  • Do not spit on worksites
  • Do not share cigarettes and/or vaping equipment.
  • Do not use sea cans as breakrooms.
  • Do not rideshare/carpool to/from work.
  • Clean out Jobsite trailers daily - arrange for commercial cleaners to clean and disinfect areas of the project.
  • Introduce an on-site COVID-19 committee to create a best practices plan to ensure worker safety.
  • Create a task force focused on supporting your company's staff and customers.
  • Make sure workers know about the  self-assessment tool.
  • Make sure workers know they should not come to work if they're feeling sick 

We also recognize that implementing some of these procedures may not be possible in all circumstances, like limiting use of certain tools to one person.  In those instances, it would be a best practice to for a contractor to follow Infection Prevention and Control Practices issued by Public Health Ontario. These are the practices being used in health care settings across the province. The Best Practices for Prevention, Surveillance and Infection Control Management of Novel Respiratory Infections in All Health Care Settings can be found by clicking here.
The Provincial Government has created a resource page with information that may be useful.  It can be found at Ontario Government COVID-19 Resources.  The Infrastructure Health and Safety Associations has also created some general COVID-19 resources that can be found by clicking IHSA COVID-19 Resources
We are continuing to work with our partners across the province to respond to the needs of our members and the construction industry in general.  We will be providing regular updates   Our lines of communication are open day and night to assist our members in any way we can.  Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time with your questions or concerns.
Sincerely,
Adam Pinder
Executive Director