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April 8, 2020

P.E.I. construction industry adapts, adopts safety protocols in midst of COVID-19

In two short weeks, P.E.I.’s construction industry has adapted to minimize the danger of the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) on jobsites, say industry representatives.

Sam Sanderson, president of the Construction Association of P.E.I., says his organization has worked with builders and representatives from public health to develop a guide for job sites operating in the midst of the pandemic. The 23-page guide was posted on the CAPEI website last week.

“We had nothing two weeks ago,” Sanderson said, referring to the guidelines.

Sanderson said the guide has been reviewed by staff from the Chief Public Health Office and the Workers Compensation Board of P.E.I. Although the CPHO has not issued its own protocols for construction sites, the CAPEI guide has been based on recommendations issued by P.E.I.’s Chief Public Health Office, particularly related to handwashing, cough etiquette and social distancing.

The comprehensive guide includes detailed instruction on social distancing for workers and contractors. In order to maintain a two-metre distance, workers are urged to limit groups in orientation, lunch and meeting rooms. For example, the guide recommends staggering lunch breaks to limit gatherings and requires contractors to regularly inspect sites to ensure workers are practising self-distancing.

The guide also recommends having water washing stations at job sites, as well as hand sanitizer. Sharing of tools and equipment is discouraged, and all visitors and workers on a job site are required to complete a questionnaire to determine if they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Contractors are required to verify workers are free from symptoms at the beginning and end of each shift.

Allan Manley, executive officer of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association-P.E.I., said different trades, such as plumbers and electricians, generally avoid being on the same job sites at the same time on smaller or medium-sized jobsites. This has minimized contact and has allowed smaller crews to maintain social distancing as much as possible.

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