Occupational Health & Safety and COVID-19

08 Jun , 2021

One of the most important things I learned as a safety consultant services company is to listen to the workers and supervisors. If they are not listened to, why would they listen to their employer. Something I am seeing in response to COVID 19 is that management is not allowing their employees to speak about how they feel in relation to the Covid 19 pandemic controls and mitigations.  They ask for a risk assessment and they are just told they must follow the health mandates, they are told “don’t ask questions, don’t request proof, just do as your told”.  The first thing you are taught in Workplace safety training is, “if you are unsure about anything ask.” 

 Part 4 of the Alberta Occupational Health & Safety Act outlines The right to refuse dangerous work and discriminatory action, this outlines a process to report the concern to the employer or a Joint worksite health & safety committee or a health and safety designate, this report must be document and the concern must be investigated.

 I was involved in a situation where a worker who had asthma and had complied with the site mask mandate for COVID 19. He was tasked with a job that left him struggling to breath, dizzy and feeling disoriented and overall unsafe.  He challenged his employer to assess the hazards of the work and had identified the Mask as the primary reason for the incident. Instead of addressing the workers concern, He was then taken off site, requested to take a Rapid COVID test (negative) and told to get back to work.  He then requested the employer re look at the job and identify that the mask was a hazard to his work, he was told “No Mask, No Work.” 

As employers we must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances proportionate to the risk. This is the basis of every Hazard management policy, this requires completing a workplace inspection, identifying the hazards of the work, and determining the risk of the task.  In the case of the worker mentioned the employer had a legal and Moral obligation to not allow conditions in their workplace to exist that might hurt their employees. However, achieving this is difficult when the site has a mandate of zero risk. Zero risk, although a nice byline on a safety poster, is an exceedingly difficult threshold to achieve. Morally we know good health and safety is appropriate, but it is difficult to decide morally how much of this good thing is enough.

 

When looking at COVID 19 and the workplace I question if we have lost our minds in relation to a virus.  The government’s own data tells us that of the 309,000 Canadians who died in 2020, only 5 percent died with Covid (and not necessarily of Covid). Of 38 million Canadians, very few of us are going to get sick. Almost all who get sick will get over it, the survival rate being 99.77 percent. Covid has only a negligible impact on life expectancy. Healthy people do not spread Covid, and casual contact is not enough to transmit it. Especially when the worker is working outside and not anywhere near another worker, that he could possibly transmit to.

 Law has a clear and distinctive list of characteristics. They include:

Reason: Ability to think, understand, and draw conclusions in an abstract way.The essential aspect of law is that there have to be reasons for legislation and court decisions.

Morality: A code of conduct held as authoritative in matters of right or wrong.

Certainty: Accuracy and absence of doubt. There is no doubt that the crime or infraction was committed.

Flexibility: The ability to adapt to the changes occurring in the workplace and businesses.

Non-perfection: Law is not perfect; there will be mistakes.

Neutrality: Law cannot be allied with either side in the dispute or argument.The courts do not care who you are; everyone is judged by the same factors.

Equality: Same treatment for all persons but not necessarily identical treatment. Different treatment may be required to promote equality in some cases.

Openness: The court must be open to any who may present themselves related to the case and have apparent relevant information.

OHS practitioners and professionals and the workplace committees, committed to workplace health and safety, have a role to assist in compliance, but ultimately, they must sit on the sidelines as coaches and mentors. As a individual providing safety consulting services in Alberta its difficult to prove how “scientific” and “evidence-based” government’s restrictions are such as masks. If restrictions of the air we are required to breath were based on science, the government would be able to present  this science.

Minister Shandro claims that “Alberta’s initial approach to contain the spread of Covid-19 and protect Albertans was measured, balancing the need to protect health system capacity and provide care to Albertans in need, while limiting the impact on our businesses.” Well Mr Shandro these mask mandates are restricting my worker from doing their jobs safely and goes against all basic health & safety training.

There is nothing “measured” about putting in mandates that effects the very way we breath. There is nothing “balanced” about treating every job and every worker exactly the same. These measures are unprecedented and enormously oppressive. Having employers focus more on the Covid testing mandate instead of the hazards and risk of doing a job is more of a political move, having nothing to do with science or worker health & safety.

Ultimately, facts will prevail over fear, and truth will vanquish lies.( following is from https://www.jccf.ca/)

  1. Covid simply isn’t the unusually deadly killer that it’s made it out to be.  

In 2020, more than 309,000 Canadians died. Adjusted for population growth, this number is consistent with previous years.  Of these 309,000 deaths, only about five per cent were linked to Covid. There was an alarming surge in non-Covid deaths in western Canada, especially among younger men. Covid has only a negligible impact on life expectancy.

  1. Covid has little impact on overall life expectancy.

The average age of death for all Canadians in 2018 was 81.95 years. Statistics Canada has yet to publish the average age of death of Canadians in 2020 who died with Covid. However, available death-by-age data from Canadian provinces consistently shows the majority of Covid-related deaths occur in ages older than average life expectancy.

  1. The Covid survival rate is 99.77 percent.

A meta-analysis by Dr. John Ioannidis of seroprevalence studies shows the median infection survival rate from Covid infection is 99.77%. For Covid patients under the age of 70, the survival rate is even higher, 99.95%.

  1. If you are young and healthy, you are more likely to die in a car accident than with Covid.

Of the 22,475 Canadians who died with Covid between March 8, 2020 and March 19, 2021, only 304 – 1.4% – were under the age of 50. In contrast, almost 90 per cent of deaths with Covid were over the age of 70 and nearly 70% were over the age of 80, (which for men is beyond typical expectancy.) Among Canadian men under 50, traffic accidents cause higher mortality.

  1. The ‘cases’ reported by media do not refer to sick people

Although there were 572,982 ‘cases’ in Canada during 2020, the majority were not actually ill or experiencing any symptoms. Rather, these ‘cases’ refer to people who tested positive on a PCR test, the accuracy of which has been seriously questioned by medical doctors and infectious disease specialists. Of those Canadians who did show symptoms, most experienced it as a mild or severe flu, and very few required hospitalizations.

  1. The number of severely symptomatic cases is very low

By March 19, 2021, the total number of positive PCR test results (‘cases’) had grown to 916,844. Statistics Canada offered detailed information on 71 per cent of these. Only slightly more than seven per cent required hospitalization, and approximately 1.4% of the 916,844 were admitted to ICU. As one would expect, nearly two thirds of ICU admissions were above the age of 60.

  1. Asymptomatic spread isn’t significant.

Lockdown restrictions are based for the most part in the belief that the virus can be passed from people showing no symptoms – asymptomatic carriers – to uninfected individuals. However, research suggests that about 20% of people diagnosed with Covid are asymptomatic 4, and asymptomatic patients passed on Covid to other members of their households in only 0.7% of instances.5

Even symptomatic patients are infectious for only the first eight days after symptom onset. Beyond the ninth day there is no evidence of a live virus.6 In short, asymptomatic individuals are not dangerous spreaders.

  1. Infection Fatality Rates confirm there is little danger

The U.S. Centre for Disease Control has determined the Infection Fatality Rate of Covid for various age groups.
In its Current Best Estimate, the CDC proposes for different age-groups:

0-17:                20 deaths per million infections (or 0.002%)
18-49:             500 deaths per million (or 0.05%)
5-64:               6,500 deaths per million (or 0.65%)
65 and over:  90,000 (or 9%)

In other words, older people are significantly more vulnerable to Covid than younger people. When younger people do pick it up, their survival prospects are excellent and symptoms generally mild.

  1. Casual contact is not enough to transmit Covid

The New England Journal of Medicine reported that significant exposure to Covid was defined as “face-to-face contact within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes).”8 There is little risk of catching Covid from a casual encounter in a public place.9

  1. The “science” isn’t that settled

“When you don’t have the data and you don’t have the actual evidence, then you’ve got to make a judgement call.”
This was Dr. Anthony Fauci’s response to a question asked by CNN’s John Berman on March 10, 2021, about the Biden administration’s promise to make its decisions based on science: “What’s the science behind not saying it’s safe for people who have been vaccinated – received two doses – to travel?”

Conclusion

All of these restrictions, mandates and quarantines of healthy people, we are told by politicians and public health officials, are to protect our “health and safety.” The government’s own data shows that their efforts are to stop a virus that predominantly kills sick and elderly people, 80% or more of whom are in nursing homes, more than 80% of whom are over 80 years old. None of this represents the average worksite.

Never before have millions of Canadians who are young and healthy been forced to comply with  daily Covid Testing, possibly not being able to work due to a positive test result of  themselves or a co worker, potential requirements to take a vaccine to work, and above all add a PPE method that restrict the air they breath when No hazard exist that involves the corona virus  and even if it did, we are told all of the above is mandatory to save the life of other people who may have  three or more serious health conditions.

Somewhere thru all this we have failed to consider our moral responsibility to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances proportionate to the risk.

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