As we are starting to see easing of restrictions relating to COVID-19, there are a lot of questions regarding Health and Safety and what a potential return to the workplace looks like. For those who have continued to report to the workplace, the questions are related to what an increase in workplace population means in regard to practices that have been in place over the last couple of months. Our Local has been keeping in touch with the University, and getting support and advice from our National Union as to what various measures mean to our members. The University is putting a lot of good information on their EOHSS website, but as so many pieces are dependent on a variety of factors, the best answers regarding what has been/will be implemented will come from your supervisors. As with any Health and Safety concern, if you are unsure or, or uncomfortable with, the information you are getting, you should reach out to our Health and Safety Coordinator, Jim McAndrew for assistance.
Many of us are using Personal Protective Equipment, notably gloves and face masks, on a regular basis now. While their use can be beneficial, it is also important that they are put on and taken off properly. We have some ‘Quick Guides’ on ourCOVID-19 Resources page that illustrate how to ensure that the proper way to remove PPE. There is also a guide that outlines how long COVID-19 likely stays on various surfaces. These can be found along with other contact and helpful links relating to COVID 19.
McMaster Housing and Conference Services will be providing rooms for self-isolation for medical residents who are working in Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare. The Union has been kept apprised of these plans as they have been developed and any potential impacts to our members. We have reviewed the SOPs that the University developed with guidance from Public Health and are comfortable that the University has taken very reasonable steps to ensure the safety of our members. Those members who are working directly in the residence the medical staff are housed in have also received specialized training. Again, and questions or concerns should be addressed to Jim McAndrew.
You Local has reached out to the University to ensure that we are participating in the conversations that are happening around our members return to their on-site work-spaces. While there is no timeline as of yet, we are seeing the restrictions relating to COVID-19 ease, and that is the first indicator that a gradual return to our work-spaces will begin. While we want to see all our members back at work, most especially those who have had their hours and income reduced, it needs to be done in a safe way and return to a safe environment. Right now, numerous working groups across McMaster management teams are starting to look at what returns to on-site work-spaces look like, and we expect to see a lot more information roll out over the coming weeks. Again, many of the decisions around returns to on-site work will be specific to the work requirements and physical spaces you work in. Through conversations with the University it is clear it will not be a one size fits all approach.
The Joint Health and Safety Committee is also still doing their work as they always have, though more virtually. There are still members working on campus, as there is a lot of work that cannot be done remotely, and while COVID-19 has in some cases added a layer of complexity to our normal safety procedures, it in no other way over-rides them.
The Local participated in a video conference this week that was joined by The Ontario Health Coalition which is bringing together various International Health Coalitions. We heard from speakers from groups who are all interested in maintaining or improving health care systems. It was an interesting couple of hours that highlighted the need for us to make sure that we are supporting and fighting for our health care systems to ensure they are ready to provide the care we need, when we need it.
Lastly, we want to remind our members that the way we are each dealing with the various aspects of the COVID-19 measures is as unique as our individual circumstances are, but there are resources available to you. We strongly encourage you to reach out if you need assistance. Our Mental Well-being page has links to resources that may be beneficial to you whether you are dealing with a crisis, addiction, domestic violence, or to just needing support to find the resources you need to weather this storm.