Following the recent outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019, your union is working closely with the IBT Safety and Health Department and the UAL Safety Department to ensure the safety of all Teamster members who work with the traveling public and provide cleaning or maintenance on aircraft. For now, our recommendation is that you take the same basic precautions you would when cleaning or working in the interior of aircraft that you would normally take: wash and disinfect your hands frequently, use protective gloves whenever there is a possibility of coming in contact with infectious agents and use surgical masks to cover your nose and mouth if you believe it is necessary. United Airlines will be posting updates on the Flying Together Tech-Ops Home Page as they become available. We will post updates on the Teamster Airline Division as they become available.
As OSHA has noted, “There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with 2019-nCoV as the outbreak investigation continues.”
At this writing the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a biosafety level two (BSL-2) virus. Employers and workers should consult interim guidance from the CDC specific to 2019-nCoV, along with existing resources for other coronaviruses like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) for precautions appropriate for this similar virus. You should also be aware that level three guidance has been issued for travel to China.
Coronaviruses are part of a large family of viruses that circulate in animals and occasionally cross species and infect humans. Human coronaviruses commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide. Two newer examples of coronaviruses include ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome’ (SARS-CoV) and ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome’ (MERS=CoV).
Without sustained human-to-human transmission, most American workers are not at significant risk of infection. However, workers involved in airline operations (including cabin crewmembers), healthcare (including clinical laboratory personnel), and border protection may have exposure to travelers infected with the virus in China or other affected areas.
- Five cases of the coronavirus infection in the U.S. have been confirmed in Arizona, California, Washington and Illinois.
- The 2019-nCoV can cause pneumonia, which may be severe.
- Signs and symptoms of infection include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. People infected with the virus may have these, as well as other symptoms.
Hazard Control and Prevention
Per OSHA and CDC, all workers who may be exposed:
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Use the proper disinfectant that is approved for use on the aircraft or ground facilities and follow the directions as most disinfectants require a dwell time on the surfaces to be effective prior to wiping off.
- Existing OSHA standards apply to protecting workers from 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
In addition to the above, please read any bulletins or notifications your employer has issued about the coronavirus.