Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

August 23, 2007 14:07 ET

Big Victory for OPSEU and Allies on Health and Safety for Health Care Workers!

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 23, 2007) - The announcement of mandatory respirators and safe sharps in hospitals today is a major health and safety win for health care workers who have campaigned hard on these issues, representatives for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said today.

The government said it is providing 55-million N95 respirators and mandating the use of safety engineered needles or needle-less systems to protect health care workers in Ontario hospitals.

"This is a huge victory for OPSEU and its allies," said the union's president, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "It shows that our strong campaigning on this issue has paid off."

OPSEU, along with the Service Employees International Union, the Ontario Nurses' Association, Shelley Martel, MPP and other allies, have been campaigning for several years against the government for the introduction of safety-engineered needles and sharps.

Also, since the recent SARS pandemic, OPSEU and allies have pushed for government regulation to protect health care workers against infectious disease.

A new regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act will make safety engineered needles or needle-less systems mandatory in all hospitals as of Sept. 1, 2008. The government says it will consult to develop amendments to the new regulation for safe sharps to include long-term care homes, psychiatric facilities, laboratories and specimen collection centres in 2009 and in other health care workplaces (home care, doctor's offices, ambulances, etc.) in 2010.

"We do wonder why long term care, psychiatric facilities and lab collections centres are supposed to wait until 2009 and ambulance workers until 2010. These workers too should be protected immediately," said Patty Rout, First Vice-President/Treasurer of the union.

"You can't predict when sharps injuries are going to happen. We strongly object to the phasing in of these urgent protections."

In his final report on SARS, Justice Campbell focused on the need to protect the safety of the province's front line health care workers. As a result, the province has adopted the "precautionary principle" when faced with infectious disease outbreaks, in providing personal protective equipment. OPSEU and its allies specifically asked Justice Campbell for this.

"This is a step in the right direction by this government, we only wonder why they waited until the eve of an election to do it," Rout said.

Contact Information

  • OPSEU Communications
    David Cox