OHS Canada Magazine

Ontario pledges to make essential workplaces safer during COVID-19

Construction hours extended to accelerate hospital projects


The Ontario government is extending working hours to 24 hours a day for essential construction projects, Premier Doug Ford announced Wednesday.

Work on new hospital builds, expansions and COVID-19 assessment centres will be able to continue any time of the night or day in order to help accelerate the construction of these important projects and enable employers to take additional steps to protect the health and safety of workers — such as staggering shifts, he said.

“During this escalating crisis, we are taking immediate steps to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place, particularly to properly care for those with severe COVID-19 symptoms and other patients who require critical care,” said Ford.

Advertisment

“That’s why we’re extending construction hours to allow us to build essential infrastructure faster, while ensuring construction workers can practice physical distancing on work sites to stay safe and healthy.”

The province will temporarily limit local noise bylaws from applying to these types of essential construction activities.

The government also pledged to make essential workplaces across the province safer during the COVID-19 pandemic by:

  • redeploying more than 30 employment standards officers to help businesses understand and comply with health and safety requirements
  • working with health and safety associations to deploy up to 30 specialists to support employers and workers in the field
  • issuing health and safety guidance notes to support specific sectors
  • doubling the capacity of Ontario’s Health and Safety Call Centre from 25 to 50 phonelines
  • providing job-protected leave under the Employment Standards Act for workers who need to self-isolate or care for a loved one because of COVID-19
  • issuing a call to recently-retired inspectors who may be able and willing to return to their positions
  • providing compliance assistance and enforcing the emergency orders issued under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act.

“Our government is doing everything in its power to make sure workers on the job are safe during this pandemic,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“That means more inspections, more inspectors, more phone lines, and more people to take your calls. We have conducted thousands of inspections and investigations across the province in March and we will continue to conduct more this month. We will do everything in our power to keep the essential workers of our province safe.”