Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.
Protecting workers is part of the government's commitment to prevent workplace injuries and diseases through its Safe At Work Ontario Strategy.
Construction workers are often at risk from exposure to infectious diseases on construction projects due to poor sanitary conditions associated with toilets and clean-up facilities.
Poor sanitation is a major cause of disease and can be a serious occupational health risk.
Infectious disease prevention and control will be the focus of a province-wide enforcement strategy on construction projects as part of the Construction Sector Plan and the Ministry of Labour's Safe at Work Ontario strategy. Attention to safe work practices for the protection of workers from infectious diseases due to poor sanitary conditions on construction projects will be emphasized.
Inspectors will focus on the following items:
It is the responsibility of employers, owners, constructors, suppliers of equipment, and supervisors to ensure that all workplace parties comply with the provisions of the OHSA and the regulations in order to protect workers from hazards in the workplace including the protection of workers from infectious diseases due to inadequate sanitation on construction projects.
Construction employers have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to ensure that every reasonable precaution in the circumstance is taken for the protection of workers (section 25(2) (h)) of the OHSA.
Employers must report all occupational diseases to the Ministry of Labour and the workplace's Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) as required by Section 52(2) of the OHSA.
Employers are also required, by clause 25(2) (a) of the OHSA, to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker. This includes, and is not limited to, information and instruction and supervision about infectious diseases and associated hazards and health risks.
Constructors must ensure that, in accordance with section 29 of the Construction Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91), toilets, urinals and clean-up facilities are provided or arranged for workers before work starts at a project and that there is reasonable access to them.
Suppliers have a duty under section 31 of the OHSA, to provide toilets and clean-up facilities that are in good condition and that comply with section 29.1 of the Construction Regulation.
Note: Although this is a fact-specific determination to be made by an inspector at a workplace, it is the position of the Ministry of Labour that clean-up facilities complete with hot and cold water (or [ 1 ]warm water) are, as a general matter, reasonable to provide by Constructors in almost all construction projects, with the exception of long "mobile" projects, short duration projects (less than 1 month) or very geographically remote projects where road access is not possible.
Toilet and Clean-up Facilities
More information about Infectious Diseases and the Enforcement Strategy and Compliance on construction projects can be found at the following links:
Call 1-877-202-0008 any time to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. Call 8:30 a.m. 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, for general inquiries about workplace health and safety.
[ 1 ] Where electrical power is not available, the use of warm water is permissible in lieu of providing hot and cold running water.