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Air Canada Highlights its Pandemic Health and Safety Initiatives for Employees During NAOSH Week 2021
  • Sharing its workplace rapid testing expertise with other Canadian companies
  • Approach to safety during pandemic starts before employees arrive at workplace
  • Vaccination clinics opening this month in Montreal and Toronto

Attention Editors: see video discussing Air Canada's initiatives here:
https://vimeo.com/543778735

MONTREAL, May 5, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - Air Canada is marking North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (NAOSH) by highlighting the range of health and safety initiatives it has implemented to protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline's leadership position in using technology has enabled it to share its experience and knowledge to mentor other Canadian companies in scaling up similar initiatives.  This includes the use of rapid antigen testing in the workplace, developed via Canada's Creative Destructive Lab (CDL), as an important tool in applying a layered approach to employee health and safety.

"The safety of our employees is paramount at Air Canada, and working with our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Chung, Air Canada has been able to pull together workplace screening initiatives with our partner Creative Destruction Lab which has enabled Air Canada to be in a leadership position. With the unpredictable trajectory of COVID-19, it was critical over the past year to develop and use science-based tools as part of a multi-layered approach to keeping our people safe at work. Employees told us they found the voluntary rapid antigen employee screening we developed through CDL gave them additional confidence knowing there was another protective layer in the workplace. What we learned in the process has been shared with other organizations looking to adopt similar approaches for their own workplaces," said Samuel Elfassy, Vice President, Safety at Air Canada.

Janice Stein, a professor at the University of Toronto and a Member of the CDL Steering Committee, stated, "Air Canada has played a leading role in the CDL Rapid Screening Consortium in Canada. It was among the first to join. It led critical work teams, it pioneered one advance after another in the application of rapid screening."

Canadian Blood Services is one of the companies that Air Canada helped in scaling its workplace rapid screening for employees across the country. Laura Todd, Manager, Strategic Planning and Business Integration said, "The team at Air Canada shared technology that made it easier for us to implement in our environment. The program provides an extra layer of safety that will help ensure we can continue to provide life-saving products and services to Canadian patients."

Air Canada has implemented workplace COVID-19 safety protocols during the pandemic using a phased approach that begins prior to employees leaving home for work. These initiatives include:  

Prior to going to the workplace. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Air Canada has required all employees to conduct a self-wellness assessment from home prior to leaving for the workplace. An online-tool has been developed for the self-wellness assessment which has now been deployed to various work teams, with further roll-out planned.

Upon entering the workplace. As a member of the CDL's Rapid Screening Consortium, Air Canada has implemented voluntary rapid antigen screening in 12 locations across 16 work groups and is scaling this testing across other locations as provincial health authorities approve their use.

In the workplace. Air Canada has piloted Tracescan Wearables at its 24-hour system operations control centre, which vibrate when employees are less than six feet apart for more than ten minutes and utilize Bluetooth technology to facilitate objective contact tracing if required. Tracescan Wearables are planned to be further deployed to other work locations.

Vaccination clinics in Montreal for employees.  Air Canada is working with partners Bombardier, Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) and Biron Groupe Santé to host upcoming Montreal vaccination clinics for eligible employees and their immediate family members. Clinics opening on May 6 and May 13.

Vaccination clinics in Toronto for employees to open soon.  Air Canada is partnering with the Ontario government and Region of Peel to open a clinic facilitating vaccinations later this month for eligible employees and Peel Region residents including immediate family members.

The airline is recalling some furloughed employees for non-medical employment opportunities at the Montreal and Toronto vaccination clinics. Air Canada continues to approach other provincial governments for similar opportunities.

Air Canada has been at the forefront of the airline industry in responding to COVID-19, including being among the first carriers globally to require customer face coverings onboard, proactively provision its crew with PPE, and the first airline in the Americas to check passengers' temperatures prior to boarding.  The airline has provisions for sick leave.

The airline partnered with McMaster HealthLabs (MHL), the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and the Government of Canada for a study which has demonstrated the feasibility of airport-based testing to help reduce the length of the required quarantine period.

Air Canada also undertook several medical collaborations to further advance biosafety across its business, including with Cleveland Clinic Canada for medical advisory services and, since 2019, with Toronto-based BlueDot for real-time infectious disease global monitoring. It continues to explore other potential partnerships with technology and medical companies to further strengthen its biosafety protocols.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada's largest domestic and international airline and, in 2020, was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada's flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world's most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler's Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX's Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. For more information, please visit: aircanada.com/media, follow Air Canada on Twitter and LinkedIn, and join Air Canada on Facebook.

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