New safety protocols introduced for new home construction sites

home construction sites New safety protocols

New safety protocols introduced for new home construction sites

CMHC senior analyst Richard Goatcher says homebuilders lowered prices in November to reduce their inventory of unsold new homes for the winter.

Home buyers waiting for construction to finish on their new homes are going to wait a little longer than previously planned.

That’s the not-so-good news.

The good news is, unlike other jurisdictions in Canada, construction of new homes in Alberta, as well as real estate activities, have been deemed essential services during the COVID-19 crisis by the Alberta Government.

The rules have changed how you interact with your builder or realtor, but adapting to change is what we’ve all been doing for the last month and going forward.

Although most showhomes in Calgary and area are open, you can no longer just show up at a showhome to have a look.

Builders are arranging private viewings. Certainly it’s a good time to look into buying a new home if you’re in a position to. Mortgage rates are low and builder incentives are big. Just remember, builders are limiting the number of people for each appointment. It’s not a day trip for the kids to get them out of the house. Choose your builders, then Google them for phone numbers.

In view of being recognized as an essential service and to ensure everyone’s safety, the new home-building industry has introduced new protocols for buyers and builder staff and trades, as outlined below.

The protocols and the industry’s commitment to safety were outlined in a letter sent to chief Tom Sampson and deputy chief Sue Henry of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, by Collin Campbell, board chair, and Bryan Hahn, CEO, BILD Calgary Region, which represents the industry in Calgary.

Some excerpts from the letter.

“We write this letter to you in respect of shared values: public safety and worker safety. We have specifically labelled these as values and not priorities. Priorities are ranked and change; values are not ranked and are never compromised.

“As you know, the Government of Alberta recently announced that construction and real estate are essential services during this crisis. BILD Calgary Region and our members are active in both construction operations, as well as real estate transactions. You are no doubt equally aware that in some jurisdictions, these business activities have not been designated essential. Further, we are all aware there is some measure of public concern with respect to continued construction and real estate activities in Calgary. We know that, in your roles, it is important that you have confidence that continuing these activities will not compromise public and worker safety.”

To guide its member companies, BILD hosted a Safety and Wellness Forum on March 30 and, due to great demand, another on April 7. The forums included presentations by two safety professionals, as well as an industrial hygiene expert. The panel provided overviews of the key steps and fundamentals to keep worksites safe, plus, an online app was introduced that workers can access free of charge to assess their fitness to work.

More from the letter.

“We believe it important for you to know of the action and continued efforts of our members to ensure public safety and COVID-19 safe worksites. Equally important, we stress that BILD and our members strongly support enforcement of COVID-19 safety compliance. We are committed to working with Alberta Occupational Health and Safety to ensure appropriate compliance.

“There can be no minimizing the danger the COVID-19 public health crisis represents. With implementation of and strict adherence to the processes and protocols referenced in this letter, as well as a commitment to continual review and update of these protocols on a pan-industry basis, we believe we can be … near to danger but far from harm.”

The Calgary Construction Association is also on board with the new protocols, Bill Black, the association’s president, noted that those who are in the construction business must be ”… in the safety business first, once that is addressed, and only once that is addressed, do our members also enter into the construction business.”

The new health and safety protocols to keep Calgary job sites safe during the COVID-19 crisis are as follows:

  1. Mandatory pre-shift health and wellness screening: Assessing and documenting the health of all workers arriving on site daily. Any worker showing signs of illness is sent home immediately. Lists are kept daily of all workers/trades on site.
  2. Reduction in site staff: Ensuring one interior/exterior trade onsite at a time. Construction deadlines have been extended to prevent crowding and overlap. Reducing bottleneck areas (site entry points, elevators, stairwells). Additional security on site where needed.
  3. Physical distancing enforcement: All workers maintaining a two-metre distance at all times. No sharing of tools and equipment without sanitizing in-between use. Ensuring appropriate use of augmented personal protective equipment where applicable. Trades and workers avoiding carpooling and use of transit.
  4. Improved sanitation facilities: The addition of extra hand-washing stations, portable toilets and washroom trailers being added to sites. Maps showing where hand-washing stations are, as well as hand-washing instructions are on display. Cleaning of station protocols are in place.
  5. Ongoing safety education: Ensuring all management, staff and contractors are aware of and following safety protocols. Ensuring staff attend appropriate information sessions (online) and site signage is available to outline requirements and changes to protocols.
  6. Changes for offices, showhomes and walk-throughs: Industry office employees working remotely. Showhomes and design centres open limited hours, by appointment only. Limited in-person customer interactions, including construction and possession walk-throughs being done virtually.


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