TORONTO — The Ontario government will begin targeted provincewide inspections of construction sites this Friday, sending out 200 workplace inspectors, supported by provincial offenses officers, to visit 1,300 constructions sites to enforce COVID-19-related safety requirements.
Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. Monte McNaughton explained in a streamed announcement that inspectors will be reviewing COVID health and safety protocols with employers and they will also be ensuring that workers are practising safe work habits both while active on the job and on breaks, checking for physical distancing and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment when required.
Officers will also be visiting over 500 other workplaces, including big box stores, food processors, manufacturers and warehouses, in Ottawa, Toronto and York Region, which have been identified as hot spots for COVID-19.
“Construction workers continue to be needed on the frontlines to build hospitals, testing centres, broadband and other critical infrastructure our province needs,” said McNaughton in a statement. “We’ve inspected these worksites regularly throughout the pandemic, but it is more important than ever, with these new variants spreading, that we continue to ensure that construction worksites are following the rules and that workers who still go to work every day are protected.”
Hot-spot workplace inspections in Ottawa, Toronto and York Region will build on recent focused inspection campaigns in Peel and Halton Regions launched last weekend. Violations of safety regulations may result in fines of up to $750 for individuals and $1,000 for businesses.
Since the beginning of 2021, occupational health and safety inspectors and multi-ministry teams of provincial offences officers have conducted more than 20,300 COVID-related workplace inspections and investigations across the province, including 17,442 inspections of construction sites, the statement noted. Inspectors have issued over 15,600 orders and over 500 COVID-19 related tickets, and stopped unsafe work related to COVID-19 a total of 26 times.