Victoria/Chilliwack – On Monday April 6, Peter, Dave, and Phil Algra, the Partners with Algra Bros Developments issued a release saying their crews were going back to work. Their statement read in part, that the financial toll on the company plus serious safety protocols in place allow Algra to have their crews re-start their work. However, if the situation deteriorates, they will stop work once again:
On March 23, Algra Bros made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations on all of our construction sites. This decision was made when the leaders of our province were warning BC residents that BC could be following a similar COVID-19 infection curve as that suffered by Italy. Following the social distancing measures suggested by the province, we are satisfied that we made the right decision to temporarily suspend our operations and positively contributed to keeping BC’s COVID-19 infection curve manageable for our healthcare system over the past 2 weeks. We have guarded optimism that BC will continue to hold COVID-19 cases to what appears to be a manageable level.
During the past two weeks much has happened in the form of creation of safety protocols and safety standards for construction sites by the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) https://www.cca-acc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CCA-COVID-19-Standardized-Protocols-for-All-Canadian-Construction-Sites-03-26-20.pdf. Additionally, for the past 14 days we have received numerous letters from construction workers around the country expressing their thanks for our example as well as outlining the concerns they had with the management of the sites they are working on. This feedback, along with the conversations we have been able to engage in with our staff and trades people has created observations that along with the new safety protocols released by the province have allowed us to create a new safety protocol with procedures for all of our jobsites that allows us to provide a working environment where workers have the opportunity to remain protected from COVID-19. As such on April 6, 2020, we will be opening our construction sites on a voluntary basis for staff and trades.
Shuttering our operations for the past two weeks has financially impacted all of our staff, trades people, and our project budgets. However, we believe it was the correct decision as we created an opportunity to provide the following:
- Time for new safety protocols to be created that were provided to the industry by CCA, March 30, 2020.
- Time to move all tasks possible to a work from home setting.
- The ability to methodically amend our safety protocol and on-site procedures.
- The ability to procure all items required for compliance with our new safety protocol and procedures (eg hot water hand-washing stations, and digital temperature measurement devices).
- The ability to amend our construction schedules to allow the time needed to comply with the realities of what needs to be done on a jobsite to maintain social distancing.
- Time off for social isolation providing all staff and trades the proper amount of time to ensure they are symptom free. This is especially important for our small subcontractors who function as a family unit.
We will continue to monitor the status of COVID-19 in our province. If at anytime we feel the risk to our staff and trades becomes too great, we will not hesitate to temporarily suspend activity at our projects for a second time.
MARCH 23 ORIGINAL STORY – As the challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak continue to shift, the B.C. government and Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, are taking unprecedented measures to slow the transmission of COVID-19.
Recently, Henry issued an order under the Public Health Act prohibiting the gathering of people in excess of 50 people at a place of which a person is the owner, occupier or operator, or for which they are otherwise responsible. Employers in the construction industry are asking for clarity about what this means for them.
While this order does not apply to construction sites as a whole, the public health officer is directing employers to take all necessary precautions to minimize the risks of COVID-19 transmission and illness to themselves and their employees. This includes:
- There should be no more than 50 people in the same space in any circumstances.
- Where possible, employees should maintain a distance of two metres apart from each other.
- Post signage that limits the number of occupants in any elevator to four people at a time.
- Reduce in-person meetings and other gatherings and hold site meetings in open spaces or outside.
- Increase the number of handwashing stations and post signage that identifies their location.
- Maintain a list of employees that are currently working on sites and update this list daily.
- All common areas and surfaces should be cleaned at the end of each day. Examples include washrooms, shared offices, common tables, desks, light switches and door handles.
- Anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, sneezing or coughing, must self-isolate at home for 14 days.
Section 4.85 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation does provide for a minimum standard around the provision of washrooms and hand washing facilities. Where plumbed facilities are impracticable, employers must provide access to portable washroom and hand-washing facilities. Those facilities must be maintained in good working order and must be provided with the supplies necessary for their use.
Employers should reassess their work environment every day and keep updated with the information posted on the Province’s website: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19
This affects the major Five Corners re-vitalization plan in Downtown Chilliwack by Algra Brothers.
In a message from Peter, Dave & Phil Algra, Partners, Algra Bros Developments: As of Monday, March 23, Algra Bros will be discontinuing work on all of our job sites. We implore our colleagues in the construction community to join us.
There is no doubt that shutting down, even for a short term, will present financial difficulties. But if we all do not take the difficult and necessary measures to stem the spread of the virus now, the financial problems we face today will pale to the hardships and losses we will incur in the coming months.