Almonte hospital workers file grievance to access N95 masks
The Ottawa Citizen is reporting on a grievance filed by several employees of the Almonte General Hospital, seeking access to N95 masks.
As the Citizen notes, the hospital provides N95 masks only when employees are involved in aerosol-generating medical procedures, such as intubations. However, the employees and their union want N95 masks supplied to everyone working with patients who have or are suspected of having COVID-19.
Christine Davies explains the basis of the grievance:
… CUPE Local 3022 wants fitted, N95 respirators made available for all suspected COVID-19 patient interactions based on the “precautionary principle.”
The union’s lawyer, Christine Davies, said the collective agreement explicitly incorporated the precautionary principle, an idea which suggests that safety should be paramount when science is uncertain.
“What we have here is essentially a situation where there’s uncertainty about the existence of airborne transmission,” Davies said. “The union is saying that, because of that uncertainly, you ought to go to the higher level of protection, which is the N95 respirator.”
The union contends the airborne transmission of COVID-19 remains an open question that should be decided in favour of caution.