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COVID-19 makes working in a heat wave even more difficult

'Workers are doing their best during this heat to stay safe while trying to maintain the customer's schedule as much as possible,' says Arnott president

The Dunlop Street Streetscape construction project is coming along nicely despite COVID-19 slowing it down briefly.

But this week has added another obstacle for workers as a heat wave made it tough to go as fast as normal.

While workers on local construction sites continue to do their best to maintain physical distancing while on the job site, COVID-19 has made it tough to head inside as a group and get cooled off.

Nigel Shaw, the president of Arnott Construction, told BarrieToday that in regards to the “Dig Downtown” (Dunlop Streetscape) project, every precaution is being taken to keep workers safe from the heat and humidity.

“Workers are doing their best during this heat to stay safe while trying to maintain the customer's schedule as much as possible,” said Shaw. “The workers are encouraged to take more breaks by management, and they are supplied with ice water and electrolyte drinks as needed.”

Some job sites are starting earlier than normal and stopping by 3:30 p.m. and Shaw said that “all COVID-19 safety measures must remain in place regardless of the working temperatures.”

Shaw notes there are requirements that management needs to follow, and they do. 

“Job site supervisors have tools and guidelines that provide work durations and break frequencies as per the Ministry of Labour Guidelines,” said Shaw.

“Actual temperatures and humidity levels determine working restrictions. Worker safety is the utmost priority, and if at any point a worker feels that they need a break from the heat, solutions are provided," he said.

Sites may be shut down by management when parameters reach their safe limit. Limits are determined by safe working temperatures and humidity.

Barrie's general manager of infrastructure and growth management, Andrea Miller, says the city recognizes the heat warnings this week have provided an additional element for construction crews.

“As this is contracted work, it is Arnott’s protocols and safe work decisions that dictate the actions in dealing with weather. If Arnott or any contractor has a concern they would bring it to the City and we would act in the health and safety of all involved,” said Miller. 

Miller said the city continues to reinforce their standard operating procedures for working in hot weather for city staff and “we ensure that our contractors are doing the same by drinking lots of water, taking breaks, and utilizing modified timing for work if needed.”

The current phase of the Streetscape started in March and is set to finish sometime in July, but there is still more work to be done west of Clapperton. Phase 2 (Dunlop St. between the Five Points intersection and Toronto St.) will continue with completion aimed for fall of 2020.

Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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