May 25, 2021

AIHA Issues Guidance to Protect Volunteers from COVID-19 During Natural Disaster Response and Recovery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Susan Marchese,
Managing Director,
Communications and Marketing, AIHA
(202) 256-8986

Katie Heraty
Account Director,
CS-Effect
(773) 677-1775 (Central Time)

May 25, 2021 (Falls Church, VA) – AIHA, the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring OEHS in the workplace and community, announced recommendations designed to protect unpaid natural disaster response volunteers from COVID-19. Thefree guidelines also provide volunteers with information about how volunteer organizations operate during a response to severe natural disasters including hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and more.

“Many communities throughout the nation are dependent upon volunteer firefighters and community response teams to respond to natural disasters,” said AIHA CEO Lawrence Sloan. “The AIHA guidelines provide comprehensive recommendations addressing the common facilities where they work, eat and sleep, PPE, legal protections for disaster volunteers, and more.”

Additionally, the guidelines, developed by occupational and environmental health and safety professionals (OEHS), include guidance to protect volunteers from COVID-19 during natural disaster response and recovery, information about the Incident Command System, personal measures to prevent COVID-19, deployment measures to prevent COVID-19, PPE, and personal safety and family considerations for volunteers.

The guidelines are designed for all types of volunteers, including:

  • community members responding on provisional bases to a disaster occurring within their own community
  • members of Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs)
  • associations of locally-based professionals who have been tasked under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to prepare emergency plans on behalf of the communities which they serve
  • volunteers belonging to community- or faith-based organizations
  • volunteers serving under an organizational structure, such as the American Red Cross or Team Rubicon
  • volunteers trained for disaster preparedness and response, such as Community or Municipal Emergency Response Teams (CERT1 or MERT)
  • volunteers serving in a professional capacity, such as volunteer firefighters

About AIHA

AIHA is the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety in the workplace and community. Founded in 1939, we support our members with our expertise, networks, comprehensive education programs, and other products and services that help them maintain the highest professional and competency standards. More than half of AIHA's nearly 8,500 members are Certified Industrial Hygienists and many hold other professional designations. AIHA serves as a resource for those employed across the public and private sectors as well as to the communities in which they work. For more information, please visit www.aiha.org.

AIHA’s Back to Work Safely guidelines, designed for small to mid-size businesses in 27 sectors, provide recommendations on PPE; engineering controls such as ventilation, enhanced filtration, and physical barriers; enhanced cleaning and disinfection; worker personal hygiene; and physical distancing. These guidelines are available for free in both English and Spanish. In addition to the BTWS guidelines, AIHA has free, detailed resources on engineering controls, such as: