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Residential construction an essential industry

Willy Williamson / Winnipeg Free Press

Increased health and safety measures are necessary for everyone including those working on residential construction sites.

The health and safety of everyone who works in the residential construction industry, their families and loved ones, and the communities they build and renovate, is always a top priority of the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association and its member companies across the province.

As we collectively navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, provincial and local governments across Canada have recognized the essential need for residential construction to continue to provide shelter for Canadians and ensure people have access to the professionals they need to keep their homes operating. This week, Manitoba recognized this as well.

On March 30, the Province of Manitoba announced the closure of all non-critical businesses starting April 1, 2020 to help deal with the spread of COVID-19. These business closures are in effect from April 1 to April 14, 2020. According to Manitoba’s public health order, residential construction businesses have been deemed critical and have been listed in the schedule of businesses exempt from the health order. This means residential construction businesses can continue operating with this health order in place.

While this means that residential construction businesses can continue to operate, it certainly does not mean that it is business as usual. Increased health and safety measures, as well as adhering to social/physical distancing guidelines, are necessary for everyone at this time, including those working on residential construction sites. The MHBA has been communicating the importance of adhering to guidelines to our members, and keeping them informed of recommendations and requirements from Manitoba’s public health authorities.

Our members have taken preventative measures to ensure that construction work can continue safely. Like all employers, they are implementing social distancing measures and telling staff who are not feeling well to stay home. They are limiting the number of trades working at one time on their worksites and ensuring social distancing measures are being practiced on their worksites as much as possible.

MHBA RenoMark renovators are taking added steps to ensure their worksites are safe, as in most cases, they are working in occupied homes. Our renovator members are protecting both home owners as well as their employees by ensuring that work is being done only in homes where no one has recently travelled or where no one has flu-like symptoms, including the tradespeople entering the home. Minimizing the number of workers on site, sanitizing tools and equipment once they leave the worksite, and wearing protective gear are further steps our members are taking to protect their employees and their customers.

The focus for all Manitobans at this time should be staying healthy and safe. Using their best judgement and government directives affirming it is safe to do so, MHBA’s members will continue their important work in providing Manitobans with shelter.

The MHBA will continue to circulate the most current health and safety measures to our members so that they are well informed on how to keep employees, contractors and their customers as safe as possible.

Lanny McInnes is president of the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association.

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