With the recent developments regarding the coronavirus currently spreading across many countries, it is important for CAPE members to know how to protect themselves and what their rights are to deal with such a situation in the workplace.
On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus to be an international emergency and measures are being taken to contain its spread.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
This particular strain is known as Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and, according to the WHO, it is similar to the SARS and the MEHR viruses. The virus spreads through coughing, sneezing and physical contact. Little is known about the virus and the immediate threat to Canadians is minimal.
HOW TO PHYSICALLY PROTECT YOURSELF
The WHO offers the following recommendations to protect yourself from the spread of 2019-nCoV:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
According to your collective agreements, the employer is responsible for ensuring that you work in a safe and healthy environment.
• Article 37.01 for ECs
• Article 25.01 for TRs
• Article 31 for LoP
• Article 31 for PBO
Occupational Health and Safety is covered in the Canada Labour Code. Part II of the Code outlines your right to complain about a suspected or confirmed unhealthy and unsafe situation The internal complaint process for health and safety contraventions is covered in articles 127.1(1) and 127.1(3).
NATIONAL SERVICE CENTRE & OHS COMMITTEE
You can also call the National Service Centre at 1-800-463-1850 and/or the Occupational Health and Safety Committee in your workplace to inform them of the situation and seek further guidance.
CONTACT YOUR LABOUR RELATIONS OFFICER (LRO) OR YOUR LOCAL
Locals defend members' rights and interests through organization, advocacy, and consultation on behalf of its members and can help inform them on matters of concern and of interest in the workplace. In this specific case, a Local would work closely with the Labour Relations Officer (LRO’s) to assist members who have been affected. If you don’t have a local and are dealing with work related issues, you could consider starting one! Contact your LRO today to find out more.