October 13, 2022 / Larry Sloan

The Evolution of Commit to C.A.R.E.

Many of you are likely aware that AIHA received grants totaling $510,000 from CDC in 2021 under its project titled “Improving Clinical and Public Health Outcomes through National Partnerships to Prevent and Control Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Disease Threats.” As a result of AIHA’s Back to Work Safely initiative deployed during the early months of the pandemic, NIOSH advocated on our behalf to help us secure this funding. With this money, AIHA partnered with the Integrated Bioscience and Built Environment Consortium (IBEC) on four major projects:

1. an update of AIHA's book, The Role of the Industrial Hygienist in a Pandemic, and dissemination of a PDF-based COVID-19 Exposure Assessment Tool (for more about the CEAT, see this month’s Synergist)

2. videos about respiratory protection against SARS-CoV-2 for workers

3. tools based on the “Back to Work Safely” guidance documents, which have been rebranded as “Healthier Workplaces

4. a webcast on pandemic-related challenges for different worker populations

    In addition, AIHA used some of the CDC grant money to establish the Commit to C.A.R.E. website. C.A.R.E. stands for community, awareness, responsibility, and equity; the purpose of the site is to make the science about COVID-19 easier to understand for the general public and to encourage businesses to pledge to protect the health and well-being of their employees, clients, and customers.

    One of the ways the site accomplishes this is by offering a simplified explanation of the risk and risk management factors related to COVID-19 transmission. The site identifies these factors as the “four Ds” of density, duration, distance, and dilution. The number of people in an area (density) and the amount of time they spend indoors (duration) are risk factors that exist in the workplace. Measures to mitigate this risk include maintaining separation from others (distance) and enhanced air ventilation and filtration (dilution).

    Companies that take the Commit to C.A.R.E. pledge receive access to videos, flyers, and checklists presented as tutorials that inform businesses and workers about topics such as determining the risk of contracting COVID-19 at work, training employees on how to properly wear and store respirators, assessing and improving ventilation in buildings, developing policies on employee vaccination and testing for COVID-19, and finding an OEHS professional. All resources on the site are available in both English and Spanish. In less than a year, Commit to C.A.R.E. has attracted a dozen organizational partners, including ABSA International, the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists, the National Safety Council, and Workplace Health Without Borders.

    Recently, AIHA was awarded two additional CDC grants totaling $110,000 for the development of additional knowledge products related to protecting workers and the public from infectious diseases. This includes additional guidance on air purification technologies, vaccines, and employee testing protocols. In addition, we plan to convert the existing Back to Work Safely guidance into an ebook that helps businesses safeguard their operations in the face of any biological pandemic involving airborne transmission (not just limited to COVID). Once these products are available, they will be housed on the Commit to C.A.R.E. website. You can help our efforts by spreading the word about Commit to C.A.R.E. and encouraging people and businesses in your network to take the pledge.

    Larry Sloan

    Larry Sloan is AIHA's CEO.


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