COVID-19 Prevention for Community and Social Services Workplaces

gmcneil COVID-19, Health and Safety, Occupational Health & Safety

As the global pandemic of COVID-19 persists, CUPE wants to ensure that employers and members continue to implement leading practices to prevent workplace exposure to the virus which causes COVID-19.

The guidance in this document is specific to addressing the hazard related to COVID-19. It is intended to assist CUPE health and safety activists in their efforts to ensure that adequate protections are in place for members.

In the case of those workplaces that have suspended operations, the guidance is intended to assist in implementing effective controls prior to the resumption of normal operations.

The information in this fact sheet helps highlight some of hazards that increase the likelihood of exposure. Download a copy here.

CUPE launches Fix Long Term Care campaign

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Today, CUPE launches a national campaign to Fix Long Term Care.

Canada’s long-term care system is in crisis.

Our parents and loved ones living in care homes are not getting the care they deserve. It’s time to fix long-term care now!

Underfunding, understaffing and a focus on profit instead of care have been wearing down the system for decades – and it has left us tragically unprepared for the health crisis we’re currently facing.

Four out of five COVID-19-related deaths in Canada have either been residents or staff of a long-term care home – the worst record in the developed world.

We must act now to ensure this never happens again.

We need to make sure that the federal government hears our concerns, in a big way. Please click on the campaign link below to send a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today.

Joint Statement: COVID-19 and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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CUPE and the other health care unions (AAHP, NAPE, RNUNL, PARNL, and NLMA) have signed on to a joint statement with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador which will guide how we use personal protective equipment (PPE) in health care settings.

The purpose of the joint statement on PPE is to ensure that all CUPE members have access to appropriate PPE as well as to ensure that all health care workers understand how PPE is to be utilized during the pandemic.

The statement gives health care workers who can perform a point-of-care risk assessment the ability to determine what type of PPE is necessary. A point-of-care risk assessment is performed by some health care workers as part of their specific practice standards. Licensed Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses, and other professional health care providers can perform this assessment. The worker assesses the risk of providing care by looking at the patient/client/resident, the location of care, the environment and other relevant considerations to determine what type of PPE is necessary.

A point-of-care risk assessment can be performed by those health care workers who have been trained to do so. For CUPE members, this will likely mean Licensed Practical Nurses.

If you work in a classification that does not have the ability to perform a point-of-care risk assessment you should consult the worker responsible for the direct care of the patient/client/resident to determine what PPE you require before interacting in any way with patients/clients/residents. You should also consult your supervisor to ensure that you know what the expectations are when you are working near patients/clients/residents.

DOC-46285 COVID 19 PPE Joint Statement


Statement: National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job

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On April 28, the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job, we remember all the workers we have lost, and we vow to keep fighting for safe and healthy workplaces for everyone.

Every year in Canada, around 1000 workers lose their lives on the job. Their deaths are preventable and should not happen. And each one is a tragedy.

Last year, CUPE lost 11 members to workplace-related fatalities.

“Our love and solidarity go out to the families, friends, and co-workers of those we have lost,” says CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “A healthy and safe workplace is the right of each and every worker under the sun, and this is why we fight for the living.”

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Thank you for helping to crush the curve

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Members of Local 4935, Bay St. George in Stephenville Crossing, ask you to stay home and stay safe!

Today I’m wearing red. I’m wearing red in memory of the victims of the deadliest mass shooting that has ever taken place in Canada. Words can’t express my grief, shock, and heartache. CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador sends our heartfelt condolences to all those who lost family, friends, neighbours and co-workers. May the knowledge that you are in our thoughts and prayers bring you some comfort at this devastating time.

Thank you to our members, and everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador, for your commitment to bringing the coronavirus to a standstill. We are crushing the curve here in Newfoundland and Labrador!  We’ve had seven days with no reported cases. Keep up the physical distancing and the hand washing and Stay in your Bubble!

Your Division executive continues to work hard on your behalf. The executive has been having weekly conference calls to discuss issues that are arising in our locals. We’ve also been planning our convention for the weekend of September 11 to 13, 2020.

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Faces of the Frontline

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Dear Members:

I hope you enjoy the photos below of our long-term care members at St. Pat’s Mercy Home and Glenbrook Lodge in St. John’s. It is always so great to get news from members and to hear how you are coping through this very challenging time. My heart goes out to those of you on the frontlines of this pandemic and to those of you working behind the scenes, or in a changed work environment. These are trying times indeed, and seeing your faces is heartwarming and reassuring.

I and other CUPE leaders have been working hard behind the scenes to make sure you have the protective equipment you need to stay safe. It isn’t quite there yet for some of you, and we will keep working on your behalf, as you, in turn, work for all of us. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your courage to keep showing up so the rest of us are safe.

I hope you continue to share your stories and your photos. Send them to me at and I’ll post them to social media for others to enjoy.

Take heart. We will get through this, and we will be stronger together.

Sherry Hillier
President, CUPE NL

CUPE Local 879 members at St. Pat’s Mercy Home in St. John’s.

Members of Local 879, St. Pat’s Mercy Home ask you to keep them safe by staying home!

More members of L879 at St. Pat’s Mercy Home: Thank you for helping to flatten the curve!

Local 879, St. Pat’s Mercy Home: We are all in this together!

Local 879 members at Glenbrook Lodge in St. John’s ask you to stay in your bubble!

Local 879, Glenbrook Lodge says thank you for keeping them safe!


Q&A on COVID-19 for Education Members

gmcneil Occupational Health & Safety

How long does the virus live on surfaces?

A recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The researchers also found that this virus can hang out as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall. But most often they will fall more quickly. Since many surfaces in our workplace are made of unknown, mixed, or varied surfaces, we should assume all surfaces are contaminated for three days after a possible exposure.

What should I do if the nature of my work (i.e. lifting a heavy object) requires me and my co-workers to be closer than 2 metres to perform the task?

Social distancing is an administrative control on the risk of contracting COVID-19. Administrative controls use rules or work procedures to organize the work in such a way that contact with the hazard is reduced or eliminated. There will be times when the tasks we are performing require working in close contact. In those situations, we look to personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep us safe. The most important PPE is a mask; medical-grade surgical masks are the best option, but they are increasingly in short supply. If that is not available, then a cloth face covering provides a good level of protection, as long as both persons are wearing one. Gloves are advisable if you cannot frequently wash your hands.

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