Letter to the AIHA Membership: An Update from AIHA’s Board President
Dear AIHA members,
I'm writing to update you on a few important developments that have occurred over the past several weeks, which you might find of interest.
In consideration of the COVID-19 delta variant’s aggressive spread and potential to overwhelm hospitals and healthcare systems, AIHA has issued a statement in support of vaccination as a key control strategy against COVID-19. AIHA supports employers who find innovative ways to encourage vaccination among workers or develop workable programs to mandate vaccination in the workforce where warranted.
AIHA has also joined other organizations, representing the nation’s infection preventionists, epidemiologists, and infectious disease physicians and pharmacists, in calling upon state governors across the U.S. to support important public health guidance that will save the lives of thousands of Americans during this current stage of the pandemic.
In line with our efforts to help communities and businesses mitigate the risks of Covid-19, I am pleased to report that AIHA recently revised its complete library of Back to Work Safely guidelines. The second editions of these documents align with current scientific evidence related to airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the hierarchy of health and safety controls, and the CDC's new recommendations regarding vaccinated individuals. The 27 updated Back to Work Safely Guidelines are currently available only in English but will become available in Spanish by this fall.
You may recall that AIHA kicked off our Back to Work Safely initiative at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in response to misinformation and the lack of clear practical guidance to small business owners on such topics as personal protective equipment, cleaning/disinfection, and indoor air quality. Since then, the Back to Work Safely website has received more than 194,000 unique views. The guidance documents have been downloaded more than 3 million times, featured in over 60 news stories by national and international media outlets, and referred to by the CDC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and governors' offices throughout the country. This past June, the initiative received a 2021 Golden Trumpet award from the Publicity Club of Chicago in the COVID-19 external response category. I want to thank the original Back to Work Safely task force and this year’s tiger team of volunteers for their time and tremendous effort in reviewing and updating these crucial guidance documents.
In July, to promote the occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) profession, AIHA released Healthier Workplaces, A Healthier World, a docuseries about the OEHS field and the impact that OEHS professionals have on keeping workers and communities healthy and safe. The fifteen-episode series features critical figures within OEHS who discuss new standards in safety equipment, the impact of technology, and why training and education are crucial for protecting a diverse workforce.
Early this year AIHA added a new advisory group to its roster of professional communities. The Defining the Science Advisory Group (DTS-AG) was established to develop and maintain a national OEHS research agenda endorsed by the AIHA Board of Directors. The DTS-AG is a collaborative venture between AIHA and ACGIH and includes representatives from both organizations and NIOSH.
As part of our new Defining the Science initiative, I want to invite AIHA members to participate in the first-ever AIHA/ACGIH Research Idea Brainstorming Roundtables Series. This virtual event will help our two organizations define, manage, and advocate for an OEHS research agenda to inform and guide research in the most critical areas within our field. The event will be held on Sept. 21 and 23, 2021, at 2-5 p.m. Eastern time. Participants may elect to participate in one or both of the two available sessions. Participants must register online by 5 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, September 15, 2021.
Finally, I want to ask for your help. As you are likely aware, parts of the country and the world are once again dealing with devasting wildfires. From the Pacific Northwest to the Mediterranean region, communities are facing the dangers of active wildfires and the hazards they leave behind after being extinguished. AIHA's Wildfire Disaster Center has extensive resources on how the general public can protect themselves and their communities after a fire. I urge you to share these resources with your colleagues and peers to help keep our communities healthy and safe.
John Mulhausen PhD, CIH, CSP, FAIHA