In reaction to a letter sent to the CNESST urging it to go back on its decision regarding the use of N95 masks in lukewarm areas, the Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN), the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la Santé du Québec (FIQ) and the FIQP| Secteur privé believe that the CNESST must respect the judgment issued by Judge Bouvier on March 23.
This judgment requires the CNESST to apply the precautionary principle by ensuring that healthcare workers have access to an appropriate respiratory protection device in hot and lukewarm areas and during an intervention with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID- 19, in order to be adequately protected against the risk of airborne transmission of the virus.
During the hearings that led to this decision, the tribunal heard the arguments of the signatories of this letter and analyzed the scientific evidence presented by the FIQ, the FIQP, and by the CSN. Judge Bouvier ruled that in a context of scientific uncertainty and in accordance with the law, the precautionary principle should apply. The next day, the CNESST confirmed that it would apply the conclusions of the decision in workplaces in the health sector.
“Judge Bouvier has already heard the arguments put forward by the experts signing this letter. He nevertheless ruled in favor of better protection for health workers, in accordance with the precautionary principle and the law. There is no reason to question this judgment, since it is based on solid scientific, but also legal foundations ” warn the three unions.
“The rules of health and safety at work are preponderant over those of public health. The judgment is clear: the LSST is a law of public order and no employer can avoid it. In the presence of a potentially fatal virus, they must strive for the highest standards in the protection of healthcare workers. We are confident that despite the pressure, the CNESST will not reverse its decision. After more than a year of fighting for adequate protection, the debate must finally be closed. ”
The three organizations remain convinced that the CNESST will stay focused on its primary mission in occupational health and safety, namely to apply the law, protect workers and respect the precautionary principle.