Earlier this spring, the Ontario government announced its intention to implement changes to certain jobsite requirements applicable to the construction industry. Shortly thereafter, it filed proposed amendments to the Construction Projects Regulation, a regulation made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, in order to enact these changes. As these regulatory changes will be coming into force on July 1, 2023, construction industry employers would be well advised to familiarize themselves with the new and/or changed requirements as soon as possible, and to ensure compliance before the deadline.
Overview of Regulatory Changes
The regulatory changes in respect of construction sites touch on two main areas: personal protective clothing and equipment, as well as toilet, urinal and clean-up facilities. More specifically, they do the following:
- Create a new requirement that any personal protective clothing and equipment that is provided, worn or used be of a proper fit, having regard to all relevant factors including different body types,
- Change the distance requirement related to toilet, urinal and clean-up facilities on jobsites from “180 metres, measured horizontally, from the project work area” to “not more than 90 meters where reasonably possible, and otherwise not more than 180 metres, measures horizontally, from the project work area”,
- Create a new requirement that toilet, urinal and clean-up facilities be kept in good repair at all times,
- Change the basic toilet facilities requirements to require that each facility have a toilet with an open-front toilet seat; a toilet paper holder and an adequate supply of toilet paper; a self-closing door that can be locked from the inside; adequate illumination by natural or artificial light; adequate heating, if possible; adequate ventilation; and privacy for the user, as well as protection from weather and falling objects. Moreover, single-toilet facilities are required to be completely enclosed, except in the case of portable urinals,
- Create new requirements for projects that require at least five toilet facilities on site to have at least one specifically set aside for the use of female workers only (where reasonable in the circumstances), to have a sign indicating whether a facility is for female use only or male use only, and to include a disposal receptable for sanitary napkins in all female-only facilities,
- Change the requirement related to projects being carried out in remote, unpopulated areas where it is not reasonably possible to provide sewered toilet facilities or non-sewered flush toilet facilities to simply require that other types of toilet facilities be provided,
- Create an exception to the requirement for each single-toilet facility to be provided with its own clean-up facility such that only one readily accessible clean-up facility may be provided for every two single-toilet facilities as long as those facilities are located together in the same area of a project, and
- Change the requirement related to situations where it is not reasonably possible to have a wash basin with running water at a clean-up facility to require that both a means of cleaning hands and an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol be provided instead.
In Our View
Although everyone on a jobsite will benefit from a number of these regulatory changes through improved access to proper fitting personal protective clothing and equipment such as boots and safety harnesses, as well as improved access to private, clean and safe toilet facilities, it is important to note that many of these changes are specifically targeted at improving conditions for women in the construction industry. As women are currently underrepresented in the industry, it seems that the hope is that these changes may help to improve women’s participation in the workforce within this key sector.