Calgary construction workers plugging away through pandemic
CALGARY -- Some of Calgary’s construction job sites are carrying on through the pandemic, but many have taken drastic measures to ensure safety.
"Definitely a lot more attention to cleanliness," said construction worker Eric Woodcock.
"Usually trades, we’re Neanderthals, basically all of us, there’s a lot more hand sanitizing, more wash basins. We put in multiple sinks and have done what we can to get our hands on as much hand sanitization as possible."
Woodcock is working at a construction site building retail and condo buildings in the northeast.
He said construction can be tricky to navigate social distancing, but they want to keep their jobs.
"Anyone who knows this nature of this beast here, it’s impossible to do some things that far apart but anything physically possible we’re maintaining at least two metres at all times, the best we can obviously," said Woodcock.
The Calgary Construction Association said a new pandemic protocol document has been created to help companies deal with new safety measures to protect against COVID-19.
"The document we started creating was really the beginning of our effort to help the whole industry understand the safety as it related to COVID," said president Bill Black.
"You’re changing the engine of the train while the train is running to implement new standards."
'Inherently dangerous business'
Black said the document comes with guidelines companies big and small can take to ensure worker safety.
"Construction is an inherently dangerous business," said Black.
"We deal with safety everyday and safety is a profession within our industry. It is designed, enforced, monitored and measured on a daily basis."
Black suggests many companies have already come up with ideas and protocols to ensure physical distancing and sanitizing.
"Take meetings outdoors, don’t have them in enclosed spaces where the space can be more readily utilized for distancing," said Black.
"Limit the size of meetings. In some sites workers are eating lunch in their vehicles alone rather than together, managing gathering points."
Hundreds of jobs per site
For Woodcock, he said there are fewer people on the job site.
"We’re keeping our site numbers low, like the man count, but attached to everyone of these companies, there’s an office full of people," said Woodcock.
"Just one site alone, it's hundreds of jobs."
As for any potential of spreading coronavirus, Woodcock said workers are taking different measures than usual.
"“We come here and do our job, which is unfortunately in the world right now, unique, we’re in the minority there," he said.
"The main difference is when you leave site, you go home. You don’t go the store, you can’t go out for dinner, you go home, clean yourself the best you can and hopefully see your family."
The province says Occupational Health and Safety has conducted 165 inspections within the construction sector since March 15. None have been specific to COVID-19 related hazards.
"Recent inspections have taken an education and awareness focus to COVID-19 hazards, specifically social distancing, personal protective equipment and sanitization and cleaning practices," said spokesperson Adrienne South in a statement.