Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, issued the following statement regarding health and safety on construction sites:
“The health and safety of construction workers is a top priority for our government. With the COVID-19 situation changing day by day, we are working to ensure that workers have the tools they need to help keep job sites safe. We must do everything possible to fight the spread of this disease.
Today, Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer announced updated guidance to help employers better understand their responsibilities and what is needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the job site.
The update follows an initial guidance document circulated on March 20, 2020, and addresses sector topics including:
- providing better on-site sanitation, including a focus on high-touch areas like site trailers, door handles, and hoists;
- communicating roles, responsibilities, and health & safety policies, by, for example, posting site sanitization schedules and work schedules;
- enabling greater distances between workers by staggering shifts, restricting site numbers and limiting elevator usage; and
- protecting public health by tracking and monitoring workers.
Under Ontario law, employers must take every reasonable precaution to keep workers safe. Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work. If health and safety concerns are not resolved internally, a worker can seek enforcement by filing a complaint with the ministry’s Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.
Ministry inspectors are inspecting job sites today and every day. Employers and constructors should know: failure to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations could result in a stop work order.
Keeping job sites open during the current pandemic requires a heightened focus on health and safety.
We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19.”