Workers Health & Safety Centre

MOL consultations respond to Construction Sector Section 21 Committee

MOL consultations respond to Construction Sector  Section 21 Committee
Ontario’s Ministry of Labour is seeking feedback on three health and safety regulatory proposals for construction workers.
The proposals reflect recommendations put forward by the construction industry’s Provincial Labour Management Health and Safety Committee (PLMHSC), also known as a “Section 21 Committee”. 
The Section 21 Committee recommended the Ministry do the following: 
  1. introduce noise protection requirements to Ontario’s construction industry;
  2. expand the application of the Control of Exposure to Biological and Chemical Agents Regulation (Regulation 833) to construction work sites; and
  3. improve protections provided by Section 47 of the Construction Projects Regulation relating to carbon monoxide exposure from internal combustion engines.

The deadline for submitting comments is December 29, 2014.
Proposed noise protection
The MOL proposes to amend the Construction Projects Regulation to mirror the noise requirements in regulations for Industrial Establishments (Regulation 851, Section 139), Mines and Mining Plants (Regulation 854, Section 293.1), and Offshore Oil and Gas Facilities (Regulation 855, Section 41).
The proposed requirements include:
  • establishing an exposure limit for noise of 85 dBA, L ex8 based on an 8-hour time -weighted average exposure;
  • requiring employers to take all measures reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels exceeding 85 dBA, L ex 8; and
  • clarifying an employer’s obligation to protect workers from hazardous noise exposures without requiring workers to use personal protective equipment unless certain specified circumstances apply (e.g., engineering controls are not feasible because of the duration or frequency of exposure or because of the nature of the process, operation or work).

Proposed biological and chemical limits
Currently, the Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents Regulation (Regulation 833) does not apply to workers at a construction project. The MOL proposes to lift this restriction.

In light of a recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (November, 2014) this action is needed. Researchers report construction workers experience a two to six time greater risk for contracting occupational disease over a lifetime than non-construction workers.
Proposed changes for carbon monoxide control
The operation of internal combustion engines in enclosed workplaces on construction projects can also lead to hazardous exposures to exhaust gases such as carbon monoxide. To help address these exposures the Ministry proposes to revise Section 47 of the Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91.)
Proposed changes would among other things, revise current Section 47 clauses to clarify the intent of the requirements which is to ensure the control of exhaust gases and fumes generated from the internal combustion engines. The MOL also proposes to create new requirements that would:
  • reinforce the need for servicing and maintenance of an internal combustion engine  so as not to endanger a worker;
  • require testing for airborne concentrations of carbon monoxide in excavations, buildings or structures in which engines are operating; and
  • require testing for airborne concentrations of carbon monoxide to be implemented using a written testing strategy developed in consultation with a health and safety representative or the joint health and safety committee, if any.

Again, the deadline for written comments on the MOL proposals is December 29, 2014.
Want information on how to participate in these consultations?
Want to read the Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91)?
Want to read Control of Biological or Chemical Agents Regulation (Regulation 833)?
Want to read the Industrial Establishments Regulation (Regulation 851)?
The Workers Health & Safety Centre offers several three-hour training programs on various hazards and their controls, including noise, vehicle emissions, and a number of chemicals.
For more information check out our training catalogue.