As Canadians we have benefited from a summer that saw relatively low infection rates across the country, which in turn allowed for a relaxation of COVID-19 measures. Because of this, we may have slipped a bit when it comes to protecting ourselves, loved ones and colleagues.
But it is clear, a second wave of COVID-19 is beginning in some parts of the world and, for some of us, even here at home. The time to buckle down and take every possible precaution is now.
Based on feedback that the Union has received over the past month, we wish to remind members of a few key health and basic safety items crucial to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace:
- As a rule of thumb, your likelihood of contracting SARS-CoV-2 from someone who is infected is conditional on two things: The degree to which they are infectious X the amount of time you are exposed to them.
- Since there is no way of knowing or controlling how infectious an infected person is, and since many infected persons show no symptoms, the only way we have of protecting ourselves is eliminating exposure or reducing it if that isn’t possible.
- This can be accomplished through administrative actions designed to facilitate physical distancing and limiting prolonged contact. If those fail or are rendered impossible or less reliable, it can also be accomplished to a certain extent through the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- The fact that some PPE is made optional by the employer, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used. The Union has heard countless stories from members who, in hindsight, say “next time I’m wearing all the PPE”. Don’t let this be you.
- The entire aircraft is a “mask zone”. This means that a mask must be worn by all crew everywhere on the aircraft including washrooms, crew bunks and galleys. The only exception is for pilots when they are alone in the flight deck, as per the TC interim order.
- For added clarity: If cabin crew are entering the flight deck, or if pilots are exiting the flight deck, everyone needs to be wearing a mask.
- It is appreciated that masks aren’t terribly comfortable, however it is a necessary and required action to wear one while taking crew rest for the health and safety of you and your crew members.
- A mask must cover both your nose and mouth. You must also pinch the nosepiece of the mask (any type) to ensure the best seal possible and help prevent fogging of protective eyewear.
- Gowns are single use only. DO NOT take them to the hotel or your home to wash/re-use. This defeats the entire purpose of this PPE and only puts you at risk.
- Gowns are removed back-to-front after use (reverse for the lab coat style), taking care to turn it inside out as you remove your arms from the sleeves, balling it up to avoid touching the outside. Dispose of in the trash.
- Protective eyewear is important! It protects you from droplets that might be generated by a customer or colleague when speaking to you.
- It is the Union’s position that protective eyewear should be worn at all times when possible.
- Physical distancing is key to protecting yourself and others from contracting the virus. The further you are from one another, the less likely fine droplets in the air are to enter your airway. While physical distancing may be a challenge onboard, it is often possible elsewhere at work such as in airports, crew buses, hotel lobbies and restaurants.
- Gatherings amongst crew on layovers involve people from many households and many regions who have recently worked flights to many places. If you connect the dots, a “small gathering” of 5 people in one hotel room could indirectly expose you to as many as 80-100 other people!
If you must meet as a group, it is infinitely safer to do so outdoors in areas where there is ample airflow and in keeping with physical distancing and mask usage guidelines.
The worst place to spend time with people is in a poorly ventilated and/or small enclosed area such as a hotel room, especially without the use of masks.
Reliable information sources:
PPE guideline document, PPE donning and doffing video, and mask compliance guide:
- ACAeronet > ePub > Personal Protective Equipment Tile
Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee