The company sent out a memo regarding the fact that they will now be provisioning 1 N95 respirator per crew member.
Your health and safety representatives want to set the record straight. This change did not happen overnight and represents a long, long serious disagreement by the Union, its health and safety representatives, and its members.
It was only after many public calls for increased personal protection equipment onboard, many outreaches to the press, many conversations with Company representatives and the courageous efforts of certain members who stood up for their workers’ rights that change happened.
You may have noticed a posting in your crew centre as of Friday evening notifying employees of a finding of DANGER from Transport Canada regarding social distancing onboard the aircraft. This follows the investigation of multiple work refusals. The decision reads:
Requiring Flight Attendants to come frequently into close proximity with passengers during the COVID19 outbreak, in order to provide regular service, with no possibility of social distancing presents a serious threat to their health.
Therefore, you are HEREBY DIRECTED, pursuant to paragraph 145(2) (a) of the Canada Labour Code, Part II, to alter the activity that constitutes the danger immediately.
The company has since announced a reduction in service onboard, and that an N95 respirator will be provided to crew. However, the Union has been advised by the Company there will be more masks available this week for those who need replacements. The Union acknowledges these efforts but feels that there is much more that needs to be done to protect our members.
The Union demands that the employer provide our crews with the full gamut of PPE required to safely conduct their duties and, in doing so, take care of our customers by:
- Providing the regulatory-required fit testing to ensure N95 respirators are correctly sized to our members, ensuring maximum protection.
- Establishing an opportunity for on-site training to assist employees with understanding the do’s and don’ts of donning and removing this PPE.
- Providing a clear explanation of when the N95 respirator provides maximum benefit.
- Provide crew with the proper storage and advice should the mask get crushed.
- Provided clearer guidance on how to assess end of usefulness since these respirators are not good for unlimited use, even if not soiled.
- Remind employees that the front of the respirator should never be touched to prevent contamination of the hands.
- Establish a clear process for the replacement of N95 respirators.
- Make clear that proper donning and removal procedures must be exercised regardless of how short a period the respirator is off the face.
Providing the additional universal precautions equipment that is crucial to full protection – over and above what is contained in the UPK kits – including additional eye visors and full-sleeve smocks which are used by other professionals when in close proximity to persons suspected of contagious disease.
The Union’s position is that this PPE should remain a staple of our onboard personal protective equipment ALWAYS so that we never have to put ourselves at risk for weeks on end in the future. We must NEVER turn our backs on this hazard.
Thank you for reporting, for your encouragement and your bravery facing what has been confirmed to be a genuine danger in the workplace. Reporting works when everyone faced with the danger does it. Workers’ rights work when we all know them and apply them.