When the list of essential businesses in Ontario was released we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to continue building our show home. Thankfully, as we already had our permits for building (specifically footings), we were able to resume the process. In the meantime we had to adapt to the new normal as everyone navigates through this uncertain time.
It is difficult to keep up with the health and safety measures for construction sites during COVID-19 because they are always changing and adapting. Please remember this is not legal advice, but more of a guide of what we have learned.
It is important to follow the associations and government bodies who are regularly publishing resources and providing support for COVID-19. We are all aware of the basic tools being used, but there are some extra precautions that might need to be taken in order to run a construction site properly and safely. As the general contractor or owner of a construction site it is your responsibility to keep up to date on any current regulations while implementing any protocols or procedures necessary, such as:
- Restricting the number of people on site and where they are assigned to work (for example spacing power tools at least 6 feet apart and only utilizing one trade at a time).
- Holding meetings online or outside in a large space to enable physical distancing.
- Limiting unnecessary on-site contact between workers and outside service providers and sub-trades to encourage physical distancing in these areas.
- Increase site security with fences, gates, and signage to make the area more restricted.
General contractors might need to change their on-site practices and make it clear to sub-trades who has been on site and where they have been working. A construction site should provide and implement the following:
- A location to access water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Washroom facilities.
- Sanitize commonly touched surfaces or areas such as equipment door handles and power tools.
- Avoid the sharing of hand tools and power tools. If sharing is necessary, then sanitize station and shared equipment after each use.
- Additional waste disposal bins to encourage proper disposal of potentially contaminated garbage.
- Post signage on best hygiene practices and proper hand washing techniques.
- Additional tracking and monitoring of construction site and workers present.
(If someone from a construction site tests positive for COVID-19 the local public health unit will ask an employer to provide information on where the employee worked as well as the contact information of any on-site contacts who may have been exposed.)
Post Your Policies
Contractors and tradespeople need to be aware of a specific site’s health and safety policies. A large site and a small site are going to need to be managed much differently than each other. These policies cover things such as how the site will operate, including but not limited to:
- Sanitation expectations of job site.
- How employees and contractors report illness.
- How to ensure proper physical distancing.
- How work will be scheduled to best avoid any unnecessary contact.
These are just some general guidelines we have picked up from managing our own residential construction site for our show home. For more information please visit the following pages:
1. Ontario government
This is a good resource and also includes information about job site best practices and safety.
2. Canadian Construction Association
CCA has compiled a list of resources to support business continuity planning during COVID-19, including a pandemic preparedness guide and other helpful information.
3. Tarion warranty
In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic declaration by the World Health Organization, Tarion has been taking various precautionary measures and adjusting their operations to ensure the health and safety of employees as well as homeowners, builders and the greater community.
4. Ontario Home Builders Association
This is a great resource for COVID-19 health and safety guidelines as well as residential construction information.