Unions call on UCP government to ensure safe worksites at all
EDMONTON – The Alberta Federation of Labour has released a list of the top 100 jobs with the highest COVID-19 risk and renewed calls on the UCP government, which is responsible for workplace health and safety, to step up and do more to ensure that these workers who are at a greater risk get the protection they need.
“We’ve flattened the curve, but the virus is still circulating,” says AFL president Gil McGowan. “There’s still no vaccine and no treatment. And the virus is still potentially deadly. The government has an obligation to protect the health of all Albertans; but, as people return to work, the Premier and his officials have a particular duty to workers in high-risk jobs. Extra efforts need to be made to protect these workers. If we fail in that regard, a second wave of infection – and another spike in deaths – will be the result. Let’s use this list to help target and strengthen our efforts to stop that from happening.”
Who is at the highest risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus? The short answer is that the level of risk is fairly high for most workers – but particularly high for people working in certain occupations.
The AFL report examines employment in Alberta and the potential risk of being exposed to COVID-19. The analysis is based on two variables: 1) the level of physical proximity to other people, and 2) the overall frequency of exposure to contagious diseases and infections.
What this means in practice is that if a job is on the list, it’s likely high-risk – but if it’s not, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s low-risk. Jobs that involve working, living or travelling in close proximity to co-workers (like meatpacking, kitchens, some warehousing and manufacturing and construction work camps) should also be consider high-risk in the context of COVID-19.
With all of this mind, the list should be seen as one tool among many that can be used to identify risks and help keep Albertans safe in their workplaces.
“As we move forward together, we cannot afford to make mistakes – especially mistakes that common sense and best practices can help us avoid,” says McGowan. “We must all work together as public health orders are loosened and businesses are allowed to reopen – and government must act with their unique authority and power to ensure that workplaces and workers are kept safe.”