reposted from una.ca (original post March 13, 2020)

“Following a meeting on March 13, 2020 between the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to discuss PHAC’s recommendations on minimum Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements for health care workers, a joint statement was issued by the CFNU, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Unifor, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), “calling for the Public Health Agency of Canada and all provincial public health offices to protect health care workers and their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also urging decision-makers to adhere to the precautionary principle, which calls for reasonable safeguards when a virus is clouded in scientific uncertainty.”

United Nurses of Alberta would like to update you on the following areas as it relates to COVID-19 and we will continue to share new information as we receive it.

Personal Protective Equipment for COVID-19

  • At present, there is no consensus from leading public health and disease control institutions across the Globe on modes of transmission for COVID-19 and minimum PPE requirements for front-line health care workers.
  • In light of this uncertainty, UNA believes that all front-line health care workers should have access to and at minimum be protected using a fit-tested NIOSH-approved N95 respirator when in contact with patients who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • The Government of Alberta and health care employers in Alberta are recommending Contact and Droplet Precautions in addition to Routine Practices for Health Care Workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, which means wearing a surgical mask as part of your PPE, unless you are involved in performing an aerosol-generating medical procedure, which would then require an N95 respirator. This advice is based on current recommendations for health professionals from PHAC.
  • UNA’s position is based on the CFNU position statement on COVID-19, similar minimum PPE recommendations for health care workers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and on the legal opinion released by Osler on March 5, 2020, which emphasizes the legal obligation of health care employers to take all reasonable precautions to protect staff. This opinion highlights the importance of health care employers practicing the precautionary principle, which is adopting the elevated precautionary measure(s) (e.g. recommending use of a N95 mask vs a basic surgical mask) when there is conflicting evidence as to whether a certain precautionary measure is required or not.
  • We strongly encourage you to ensure that you have ready access to PPE in your worksite/program and are trained on how to use and are fit-tested (within the last 2 years) for the N-95 respirator.
  • We also want to emphasize the importance of good hand hygiene and being able to properly don, use, and doff PPE in a manner that prevents self-contamination or contamination of others. These precautions are just as critical as having the right PPE. Your Employer should have policies describing a recommended sequence for safely donning and doffing PPE. Familiarize yourself with those policies and ask your Employer for training and assistance as needed.
  • If you have concerns about this, follow up with your immediate supervisor/manager and/or contact your Local or UNA Provincial Office (Phone 1-866-492-8584; Email: ProvincialOffice@una.ca) for assistance.

 

What to do if you feel your safety is at risk?

  • Speak up and discuss the concern with your immediate supervisor/manager in a timely manner.
  • Document the concern through MySafetyNet (for AHS Employees) and on a UNA Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Concern Form. You can fill out a paper OHS Form or you may fill out the OHS Form electronically on the UNA app and online at https://dms.una.ca/forms/ohs
  • Contact your Local or UNA Provincial Office (Phone: 1-866-492-8584; Email: ProvincialOffice@una.ca) and ask to speak to an OHS Advisor for advice.
  • Consider your Right to Refuse dangerous work. There are certain obligations you must meet to exercise this right, which can be reviewed here. UNA will support any member that chooses to exercise their right to refuse dangerous work.

 

What to do if you feel patient safety is at risk?

  • Speak up and discuss the concern with your immediate supervisor/manager in a timely manner.
  • Document the concern through on a UNA Professional Responsibility Concern (PRC) Form. You can fill out a paper PRC Form or you may fill out the PRC Form electronically on the UNA app and online at: https://dms.una.ca/forms/prc
  • Contact your Local or UNA Provincial Office (Phone: 1-866-492-8584; Email: ProvincialOffice@una.ca) and ask to speak to an PRC Advisor for advice.

 

What to do if you recently returned from outside of Canada, think you have been exposed, and/or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Effective March 12, all Albertans currently outside Canada should self-isolate for 14 days when they return.
    • Contact your Manager and/or your Employer Workplace Health and Safety department before returning to work to determine next steps.
  • If you have fever or respiratory symptoms, or if you believe you may be at risk for COVID-19 for any reason and are ill with respiratory symptoms or fever:
    • Contact your Manager and/or your Employer Workplace Health and Safety department before returning to work to determine next steps.

 

More Information on COVID-19:

 

Any other questions/comments/concerns?