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Ontario updates guidelines in bid to limit spread of COVID-19 on construction sites

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says construction industry put ‘on notice’' Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says construction industry put ‘on notice’
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Tuesday he has put the construction industry "on notice," with new guidelines to ensure measures are taken to look after workers – Mar 24, 2020

The Ontario government says it has updated its guidelines to construction employers in a bid to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus on work sites.

In a statement issued Sunday, the government said the province’s Chief Prevention Officer 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 document that was sent out on March 20, and addresses a number of topics, the statement said.

READ MORE: Construction worker airs concerns about unsanitary conditions in speech at Toronto site

They include:

  • Providing better on-site sanitation, with a focus on high-touch areas including hoists, door handles, and trailers
  • Staggering shifts in order to create greater physical distance between workers
  • Restricting site numbers and limiting elevator use
  • Communicating roles, responsibilities, and health policies by posting site sanitation and work schedules
  • Tracking and monitoring workers

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“Under Ontario law, employers must take every reasonable precaution to keep workers safe,” the statement said.

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“Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work.”

“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.”

READ MORE: Ontario confirms 211 coronavirus cases in biggest single-day spike yet, 4 new deaths

The updated guidelines come amid increasing pressure from some construction workers and groups who have expressed concerns about unsanitary conditions on sites amid the pandemic.

Most construction projects were among the businesses deemed essential when the Ford government ordered the closure of non-essential businesses last week.

On Wednesday, video circulated on social media of Jack Da Silva, a business representative from LiUNA Local 183, talking about unsanitary conditions during a speech at a Toronto site.

Click to play video 'Construction worker airs coronavirus concerns at Toronto site' Construction worker airs coronavirus concerns at Toronto site
Construction worker airs coronavirus concerns at Toronto site – Mar 25, 2020

The president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), meanwhile, has said that safety is the “industry’s top priority.”

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RESCON also issued a “best practice guide” for working on sites during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workers can call the Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008 to report unsafe conditions, the government said.