Making Choices

Employers Must Prepare to Keep You SafeIn situations like this one where knowledge is lacking about a health threat, there is often debate about what actions to take and when. Too often healthcare employers prioritize saving money over safe care and wait to act— this is unacceptable.  Hospitals and other healthcare employers have the duty and responsibility to prepare ahead of time to protect staff and patients. And in situations like the current outbreak, to follow the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle states that we should not wait until we know for sure that something is harmful before we take action to protect people’s health. Full precautions mean anticipatory or protective action must be taken to prevent possible or further harm. Following the precautionary principle is necessary to protecting nurses and other healthcare workers from the hazard posed by an emerging infectious disease like COVID-19. Nurses and other healthcare workers have a fundamental right to a safe and healthful workplace and infectious diseases should be no exception. Full protection of healthcare workers is a fundamental and necessary part of limiting the spread of viruses.  Of employers, NNU is asking the following: Employers shall implement plans and protocols in response to COVID-19 based on the precautionary principle, which holds that lacking scientific consensus that a proposed action, policy, or act is not harmful – particularly if that harm has the potential to be catastrophic – such action, policy, or act should not be implemented and the maximum safeguards should be pursued.

-National Nurses Association

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