November 9, 2023 / Larry Sloan

Commit to C.A.R.E. Helps Workplaces and Communities Stay Safe from Infectious Diseases

As the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates, airborne-transmitted diseases can wreak havoc on the normal day-to-day operations of businesses and entire communities. If there's one thing we've learned, it's that public policy protocols backed by science can help mitigate the risks caused by even the most highly contagious viruses and restore confidence in our way of life.

Commit to C.A.R.E.: Committed to Fighting Future Pandemics
During the early days of the pandemic, AIHA began publishing a series of guidance documents, each for a different industry sector and aimed at helping small businesses safely reopen. These documents were originally drafted under the "Back to Work Safely" brand and have been renamed "Healthier Workplaces." As a result of this important work, AIHA garnered significant media attention and was encouraged to apply for a CDC/NIOSH cooperative agreement in late 2020.

AIHA received its first tranche of funding from CDC/NIOSH in early 2021 and decided to partner with the Integrated Bioscience and Built Environment Consortium (IBEC), experts in helping businesses mitigate the transmission of airborne-transmitted disease. The majority of materials developed under this agreement are designed to educate small business owners and facility managers. At the end of 2021, we launched our Commit to C.A.R.E. (Community, Awareness, Responsibility, Equity) web portal, which houses these knowledge products. The common denominator underlying these materials is science-backed recommendations from experienced OEHS professionals who are experts in identifying workplace hazards and recommending practical control strategies to help keep people healthy and safe at work. We are now entering our fourth year under the cooperative agreement, and the breadth of materials continues to grow.

Knowledge Is Power
Commit to C.A.R.E. resources are grouped into three categories (employer, employee, and public) and targeted at three industry sectors (general small business, healthcare, and long-term care facilities). Materials include downloadable brochures, fact sheets, and video vignettes (all videos are available in Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Hindi, and Bengali, in addition to English). The most recent deliverable to be published by the end of 2023 is a new ebook, titled Healthier Workplaces and Schools, which will be available in both English and Spanish and based on revisions to the original Healthier Workplaces series of guidance documents. These resources will be added to the Commit to C.A.R.E. website.

I'd like to highlight some of the other materials currently available:

Risk assessment tools. For those responsible for assessing employees’ risk of contracting an infectious disease and creating an employee protection plan to reduce exposure to an infectious disease, an important first step to reduce its spread is determining if employees are high or low risk. The science-based risk assessment tools on Commit to C.A.R.E. include:

  • videos and posters on the role of ventilation in keeping people safe
  • how to properly put on and take off a respirator
  • how to ensure masks fit properly
  • an interactive, web-based risk assessment tool for COVID-19

Indoor air quality tools. Since most people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, viruses that transmit as airborne particles—such as those that cause COVID-19 and measles—pose a significant risk. These particles can infiltrate spaces nearly 10,000 times smaller than a human hair and stay active in the air for at least four hours. That's why proper ventilation protocols help clean the indoor air and are essential for reducing the risk of spreading infectious diseases. The IAQ tools available to address the multiple health risks of poor indoor air quality and improve ventilation include:

  • a checklist for optimizing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • a video illustrating how to select and use indoor air cleaners
  • a poster with ventilation tips for fighting COVID-19
  • a video and fact sheet discussing how germicidal ultraviolet (GUV) devices disinfect the air
  • a checklist for portable air cleaner optimization

Vaccines and testing tools. Getting vaccinated is a much safer way to build protection than contracting the disease itself. As we have learned, airborne viral diseases like COVID-19 and measles have serious, long-term, and potentially life-threatening complications. In addition, they can spread rapidly and make others sick as well. That's why vaccines have emerged as an important weapon in the fight against these infectious diseases. Resources available include:

  • a list of FAQs on implementing vaccination or testing policies in the workplace
  • a video explaining how vaccination and testing work
  • fact checks on common myths about COVID-19 and vaccines

In Good Company
More than 30 global health and safety organizations have pledged their support to the Commit to C.A.R.E. initiative by signing on as partners dedicated to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in workplaces and communities. Organizations interested in becoming Commit to C.A.R.E. partners do not need to provide financial support to the program; they just need to use their influence to share these vitally important knowledge products with their members and other appropriate audiences. Potential partners fill out a form on the Commit to C.A.R.E. website once they determine the level of in-kind support their organization will pledge to the effort.

The three levels of support are:

  1. endorse: the organization pledges to lend its name or logo
  2. endorse and share: the organization pledges to share Commit to C.A.R.E. resources with members and other constituents
  3. endorse, share, and lead: the organization partners with AIHA to create materials such as webinars and newsletter articles

NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, recently commended AIHA for partnering with IBEC for their work. "I applaud the leadership AIHA and IBEC have shown in developing the Commit to C.A.R.E. resources about infectious disease mitigation and control in the workplace," Howard said. "They have made complex science accessible for the public to understand. Their efforts to disseminate these resources will continue to have a far-reaching impact on the health of workers and our communities."

Commit to C.A.R.E. was developed in 2021 by AIHA and The Integrated Bioscience and Built Environment Consortium (IBEC) under a cooperative grant agreement funded partly by a CDC/NIOSH grant.

Larry Sloan

Larry Sloan, CAE, is AIHA's CEO.



Outstanding action, commendations to the Board, you, senior staff and committees involved. I will be making the web address available to graduate classes. Thank you!

By Lawrence Whitehead, PhD, CIH, FAIHA on November 10, 2023 12:36pm

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