‘We will stay vigilant as the situation develops each day’
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is closely monitoring the measures that are being implemented in Canada Post facilities to minimize the risk of spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus through the postal system.
“Positive results confirming infection of two postal workers in St. John's last week spurred a series of measures to contain the risk. CUPW believes Canada Post took the proper measures and wishes a prompt and full recovery to the workers who are ill and quarantined, as the rest return to work today,” said CUPW.
CUPW has called on Canada Post to take several steps to make workplaces and the post system safer, including giving extra Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks to workers; providing hand sanitizer and wipes for enhanced cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces and scheduling changes and other adjustments to work methods to enable social distancing at work.
The group has seen some positive results as PPEs are rolling out and postal workers are taking every appropriate precaution to protect themselves and their families. But it claimed more can still be done.
"In this crisis, some things are coming into focus more clearly than ever in our lifetimes," said Jan Simpson, CUPW national president. "In labour, we've always said, 'an injury to one is an injury to all,' and now it seems like everyone, trade-unionist or not, gets it. Our safety and our health are interconnected. We all have a part to play, and we are all literally saving lives when we are careful and thoughtful in our behaviour."
Protecting the public
CUPW also noted that Canada Post must keep in mind its customers’ safety in the conduct of their work.
"People are relying on the postal system to keep the economy going and getting vital goods to their homes," said Jan Simpson, CUPW national president. "They need to know whether their mail is safe. It's critical that we do all we can, and we will stay vigilant as the situation develops each day."
CUPW is asking customers to wash and disinfect mailboxes, handrails and door handles daily if possible, and to allow adequate space for social distancing with postal workers on delivery. The group is also asking the public to respect social distancing protocols in post offices and to avoid going to the post office if they are feeling ill.
Citing recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada, CUPW said that the public must use simple disinfectants to clean surfaces, and wash hands before touching their eyes, nose or mouth, especially after contact with objects from outside their home.
The agency also suggests there is no known risk of the virus entering Canada on parcels and packages, said CUPW, but postal workers touch more surfaces in a working day compared to other people, and so extra precautions are justified.