AIHA Sends Recommendations to Governors for Protecting Residents and Recovery Worker Health and Safety

In response to the historic barrage of hurricanes, AIHA has been active in a number of areas, including encouraging the provision of aid and increasing awareness of free resources. Recently, we added to these activities, by sending a letter to the Governors of Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico that includes several recommendations to help protect the health and safety of recovery workers and residents. 

These recommendations include:

  • ​Explicitly include industrial hygienists in the pre-planning, emergency response, and management phases associated with disasters. Encourage the use of Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH®), as the CIH is known around the world as the “gold standard” for certification in industrial hygiene, and those who have earned the CIH professional designation adhere to a high standard of ethical conduct, and have demonstrated skills and knowledge in a number of different areas that are directly applicable to disaster planning, response, and recovery.

  • Consider the following as positive factors when evaluating prospective contractors:

    • ​Existence of an adequate written health and safety program

    • An Experience Modification Ratio (EMR) less than 1.0

    • Injury and illness statistics less than industry average

    • Participation in voluntary health and safety programs (such as the OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs)

    • A well-defined and adequately resourced management system

    • Client assessments of safety and health performance on previous contracts

  • ​Conversely, those contractors with a poor health and safety performance track record should be given negative consideration. Several criteria can be considered in this regard:

    • ​A record of OSHA citations

    • A record of civil/criminal penalties

    • Unfavorable EMR or assessments of health and safety performance on previous contracts

    • The absence of a formalized health and safety program

In our letter, AIHA notes that the greatest number of injuries, illnesses, and even deaths often occur not when a disaster strikes, but during cleanup and recovery, and that the greatest threats are the unknown hazards facing residents and recovery workers. AIHA’s members have the technical knowledge and professional experience to save lives and help people stay safe and healthy during these perilous times, and as such, we strongly encourage Governors to make use of all available resources and keep the strengths of industrial hygienists in mind.

To view our letter to the Governors, please visit us here.​