As workplaces across the province fall silent one by one, the busy hum of construction sites has carried on, mostly business as usual. That could be about to change.
With Ontario Premier Doug Ford announcing a province-wide shutdown of non-essential workplaces and Toronto Mayor John Tory declaring a state of emergency on Monday, the construction industry is bracing for closure.
Original Article: Construction Industry Braces For Devastating Shutdown in Toronto
The word unprecedented is beginning to get on my nerves when it comes to this coronavirus outbreak. The article in the Toronto Star does a great job in documenting some of the challenges facing the construction industry in the current global climate.
Industries are closing one by one across the Canada, Ontario and the City of Toronto and the one that has continued to stand firm is the industry of Construction. As the Toronto Star points out “Construction makes up six or seven precent” of the Ontario economy. When you combine that with the real estate industry it totals approximately 20%. In comparison retail and commerce make up 5%.
What this means is that while it may seem like the Coronavirus is having a large impact on the economy as a whole, the retail and hotel sectors are the one primarily suffering with others still in tact. Shutting down the construction sector would have a huge impact on the economy and for Canadians to pay their bills.
Keeping Essential Construction Projects Online
In the article they interview John Mollenhauer the president of the Toronto Construction Association, one of the largest in the country. The Ford government is considering shutting down select project sites deemed non essential. Mollenhauer then goes on to say who’s to determine something is non-essential? Maybe a condo being built is a new home for a family living in a hotel? Maybe a mall being built is the life savings of an investor somewhere.
While it’s easy to point at hospitals and say “yes those are the required projects” closing down the other projects has a much more significant impact.
Beyond just the construction industry there are other more significant factors to consider if the decision is made to shut down construction activity. Suppliers make their livings producting materials that are used for construction sites – this doesn’t just include construction materials but also safety equipment, access equipment, rental equipment. The effects are challenging to even imagine.
Construction Firms Doing Their Part to Fight the Coronavirus (COVID 19)
For the most part construction firms are doing a great job fighting the virus and the effects it is having on the society. The firms I all work with are practicing social distancing by spacing out crews or limiting the number of workers on site in a day. Schedules are also slowing down by reducing the number of overlapping activities. While this has an impact work doesn’t just stop.
The construction sector is unique in the way it operates. Our health and safety programs which are regularly put to the test have programs in place to manage this type of event. A gas leak or asbestos breach are safety challenges that jobsites deal with on a daily basis and are similar in nature to dealing with a virus. Workers are used to dealing with higher risk situations and taking additional precautions unlike other work environments.
My personal opinion is that the government should let the construction industry continue to do what it does best and that is build. Inspections from the Ministry of Labour should be stepped up to ensure that sites that are in violation of social distancing rules are prosecuted and shut down accordingly.
Is your Construction site still up and running? If so how are you helping to manage the spread?