On April 28, the UN World Day for Safety and Health at Work will focus on the enormous challenges facing governments, employers, workers and their organizations as they try to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and protect safety and health at work. Beyond the immediate crisis, there are also concerns about resuming activity in a manner that sustains progress made in suppressing transmission.
Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:
Barry Eidlin, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
“The pandemic has shown that millions of workers who, just a few weeks ago were deemed ‘unskilled’, are in fact essential to the basic functioning of our society. Workers in grocery, warehousing, transportation and logistics, communications, and utilities are on the front lines of this pandemic every bit as much as their fellow workers in health care. They are putting themselves in harm’s way to ensure that the rest of us can stay safe at home. But even as health care workers face shortages of basic personal protective equipment (PPE), these other front-line workers are left vulnerable, often without the most basic PPE. They need protection, and they need to be paid at a level that is commensurate with the essential nature of their work.”
Barry Eidlin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. As a comparative historical sociologist, his research explores the changing relationship between social mobilization, political processes, and ideology in advanced capitalist democracies.
barry.eidlin [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Marie-Lyne Grenier, Faculty Lecturer, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy
“Globally, many workers and students are adapting to the shift to working and learning from home. This shift comes with particular risks to one’s physical and mental health. Ensuring an ergonomic working or learning space can decrease the risk for physical and mental health difficulties. Resources to help guide workers and students are abundant online. However, sifting through these resources to determine evidence-based ‘best practices’ is much more challenging and yet vital to preventing further risks to workers’ physical and mental health. Tips for how to set-up an ergonomic space that is based on sound evidence should be prioritized for at-home workers and learners to decrease health risks during this period of social distancing.”
Marie-Lyne Grenier is an Occupational Therapist and Faculty Lecturer at the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy. She is also an ergonomic specialist and a consultant.
marie-lyne.grenier [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Chantal Westgate, Senior Faculty Lecturer, Desautels Faculty of Management
“For many people the gig economy is just an opportunity to make extra money. But according to studies, the gig economy is the primary source of income for one third of its workers. There are impacts, both mental and physical, resulting from being involved in the gig economy that range from underemployment , to a lack of control over one’s hours, to stress from working more than one job, and reduced well-being due to the uncertainties of working in this sector.”
Chantal Westgate teaches a variety of organizational behavior courses at the undergraduate, graduate, continuing education, and executive training levels. She has provided custom business and executive training programs for McGill's International Executive Institute, Ubisoft, Air Canada, CN, Cirque Du Soleil, and more. She’s also been a frequent speaker at conferences worldwide.
chantal.westgate [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)