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  • Writer's picturePeter Sturm

Supporting COVID Testing on Ontario Construction Sites - Arbitrator Decision

The arbitrators decision that COVID rapid testing on construction sites is a reasonable request. It provides guidance for workplaces in that:

  • invasion of privacy was outweighed by the objective of preventing the spread of COVID-19, and on that basis the policy was reasonable

  • the arbitrators decision is significant for Ontario employers that are considering or have already implemented rapid testing even though this decision is related to the construction industry specifically

  • it establishes that in the appropriate context, Ontario employers may implement reasonable COVID-19 rapid testing protocols to protect the health and safety of workers and the public.

As a safety professional, this assists in the mandate of preventing workplace illnesses and working towards a safer workplace for all workers.

"Ontario Arbitrator Upholds COVID-19 Rapid Testing on Construction Sites as Reasonable"

The steps outlined provide guidance on how worksites can meet the COVID testing requirements. The facts indicated that “due to the nature of construction work and the number of workers on site, social distancing was not always possible; construction employees regularly move between job sites, which increases the risk of transmission and that the testing was conducted in a hygienic and private manner.” This could apply to many workplaces.

Many see the COVID pandemic as a community and Public Health issue, however many outbreaks have occurred in occupational situations, such as: healthcare, long term care, construction sites, abattoirs and warehouses. It is a workplace issue, since some worksites have large numbers of employees in close proximity and have the potential for transmission and exposure to the COVID virus. We have experienced that a workplace may have the potential to spread the virus with close family members and the community.

This decision provides guidance and precedence for safety professionals to have an informed perspective that can be applied to all workplaces.

The resource at Mathew Dinsdale Clark is a good resource on workplace occupational health and safety issues.

This blog does not provide legal advice and is for information sharing and workplace injury prevention. Contact your legal counsel for legal advice on applying this arbitrator’s decision to your situation.

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