June 8, 2023 / Larry Sloan

Commit to C.A.R.E.: Helping Small Businesses Manage Airborne Transmitted Diseases

In January 2022, AIHA and the Integrated Bioscience and Built Environment Consortium (IBEC) launched a public awareness campaign to promote environmental strategies that combat COVID-19 and other airborne infectious diseases such as measles and tuberculosis. The website associated with this campaign, called Commit to C.A.R.E.—the acronym stands for community, awareness, responsibility, and equity—was designed to debunk myths about the spread of airborne diseases, but its overarching goal is to make the complexities of science easier to understand through engaging multimedia tools. AIHA and IBEC encourage businesses to pledge their commitment to C.A.R.E. for the health and well-being of their employees, clients, and customers.

The resources available through Commit to C.A.R.E. were developed for general small businesses, healthcare facilities, and long-term care facilities. While healthcare and long-term care facilities may be owned by large corporations with ample resources, we felt it was important to address the higher-risk populations served by these sectors.

The resources are directed to three audiences:

  • Employers, or those who run a business and are responsible for keeping their employees safe and healthy.
  • Employees, a company’s most important asset. Employees play a critical role in helping to control the spread of any airborne transmitted disease.
  • The public, which includes vendors, suppliers, and customers who may frequent a small business establishment, as well as solopreneurs, the media, and concerned citizens who want to become better informed and influence others in their community.

Through Commit to C.A.R.E., these audiences gain access to a suite of free knowledge products including a four-step online interactive risk assessment tool, more than twenty animated micro-training videos, and supporting materials such as worksheets, tip sheets, and infographics. All resources have been translated into eight languages.

Viruses that transmit as airborne particles, including those that cause COVID-19 and measles, can travel long distances—up to 20 or 30 feet—and stay active in the air for at least four hours. This understanding informs our knowledge products, which are based on the concept of the “four Ds”:

  • Duration: How long will the employee or others be indoors? The longer the time spent indoors, the more the air becomes filled with invisible airborne particles.
  • Density: How many people are in the space, how many are not vaccinated, how many are sick and not showing signs, and how many are not wearing masks? As these numbers increase, so does the risk.
  • Distance: How near are people to one another? People with COVID-19 exhale a high number of viral particles, which is why being close to an infected person increases the risk of infection.
  • Dilution: Being outdoors is safer than being indoors due to dilution of the virus through open space, air movement, and sunlight.

The Commit to C.A.R.E. materials walk users through a series of steps to educate those who are not familiar with the science of airborne infectious diseases. These steps include:

  1. Determine a worker population’s relative risk.
  2. Implement workforce training.
  3. Assess/improve building ventilation.
  4. Determine whether the company needs an OEHS professional.
  5. Understand how to find an OEHS professional.
  6. Develop a vaccination policy and testing policy.

AIHA and IBEC are recruiting partner organizations to help spread the message about Commit to C.A.R.E. To date, close to 30 organizations have signed on, including the American Association of Safety Professionals, L’Oréal, and the National Safety Council. Learn more about becoming a partner.

Larry Sloan

Larry Sloan is AIHA’s CEO.


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