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Construction worker tests positive for coronavirus as Ontario releases more guidelines for sites

Last Updated Mar 29, 2020 at 3:40 pm EDT

File photo: A worker looks over a construction site at the corner of Bremner Blvd. and Spadina Ave. Image courtesy Josef Fazio.

A Toronto construction worker has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting a temporary shutdown of the entire site.

Aquicon Construction confirmed to CityNews that the worker was stationed at a site on Bathurst Street near Sheppard Avenue.

They say the worker had not been on site since March 17 and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26, after they began showing symptoms two days prior to the positive test.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the company said they had “adopted several precautionary actions which are above and beyond those being mandated by the Government and its agencies,” and as such, the site was immediately shut down for 14 days from when the worker was last there.

The company says they and medical professionals do not believe the virus was contracted on site. However, anyone who had contact with the site was informed about the situation so that they could also be quarantined and monitored. No other workers or anyone in contact with the site is currently showing symptoms.

The building and all common areas were also cleaned and sanitized.

“We want to ensure that everyone on site feels safe to return to work in an environment that will provide a sanitized work environment for all individuals,” the statement said.

The site is expected to reopen at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Ontario released updated guidelines Sunday to “help employers better understand their responsibilities and what is needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the job site.”

Construction sites have been listed on Ontario’s list of essential workplaces and services that will remain open during the state of emergency declared in the province as coronavirus continues to spread throughout the country.

Numerous concerns have been raised about conditions on construction sites — mainly revolving around hygiene and the inability to maintain a distance of six-feet between workers.

In a statement, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton, said the new guidelines add to those sent out on March 20 and address topics including:

  • providing better sanitation on-site, with a focus on high-touch areas like site trailers, door handles and hoists
  • clearly communicating roles, responsibilities, and health & safety policies, by, for example, posting site sanitization schedules and work schedules
  • staggering shifts, restricting the number of people on site and limiting elevator usage to enable greater distances between workers
  • protecting public health, by tracking and monitoring workers

 

In addition the statement says ministry inspectors are inspecting sites every day and adds “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.”

Premier Doug Ford recently told construction workers they have permission to walk off the job if they believe their health is at risk.

“Let me be very clear to all construction workers … If you don’t feel safe in your workplace, your job will be protected, you can leave the job site,” Ford said last week.