Building Trades Council welcomes WorkSafe responding to worker complaints

BCBT calls creation of ‘inspectional initiative’ a positive first step

The BC Building Trades council is calling the new “inspectional initiative” announced by WorkSafeBC to address sanitation on construction sites a positive first step.

The initiative was launched in response to concerns raised by BCBT about poor health and safety on construction sites. BCBT was advocating on behalf of the construction workers who have been contacting them for over a week to report inadequate washroom facilities, a lack of running water, no soap or hand sanitizer, workers sharing tools and working too close to each other, and workers coming to their sites visibly sick.

“This is a positive first step to addressing a longstanding issue,” said Andrew Mercier, executive director of the BC Building Trades. “It’s important that WorkSafeBC takes construction site sanitation seriously using the tools in their toolbox: inspection, enforcement and compliance.”

But Mercier added that the issue is far from resolved, and the BC Building Trades will remain vigilant.

“We have an obligation to these workers to do everything in our power to ensure they are working safely,” said Mercier. “We will continue to monitor progress and assist in any way we can.”

WorkSafeBC occupational health and safety regulations require workplaces to have either fixed or portable washroom facilities that include provisions for hand-washing, and that these must be kept in clean and sanitary condition.

In addition, construction sites should be following the recommendations of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry around social-distancing, which are proven to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

“Construction sites are not exempt from these recommendations,” adds Mercier. “We’ve been heartened by contractors like Oceanview Mechanical in Victoria, where workers built, installed and plumbed in water for their own hand-washing stations at six residential condominium sites.”