February 4, 2021
OEHS Experts Urge Businesses, Schools to Adopt Engineering Controls Despite COVID-19 Vaccination Program Roll-Out
CONTACT:Susan Marchese, Managing Director,
Communications & Marketing, AIHA
Katie Heraty, Account Director,
Falls Church, VA (February 04, 2021)---Despite vaccination programs taking place throughout the country, AIHA, the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) in the workplace and community, strongly recommends practical science-based engineering controls, including ventilation and enhanced filtration, to ensure safe workplaces and schools.
As more businesses and schools move to reopen and progress continues with the vaccination program, health and safety measures remain necessary to not only reduce the spread of COVID-19, but also to address health concerns stemming from buildings that have been shut down for extended periods of time (e.g., waterborne pathogens Legionella and Pseudomonas in stagnant water systems).
“Engineering controls need to be in place alongside the vaccine rollout. The vaccine is not an end-all-be-all in returning to work safely,” said AIHA CEO Lawrence Sloan, MBA, CAE. “Not everyone will be vaccinated for COVID-19 immediately, and some may refuse vaccination altogether. Adopting reliable engineering controls will reduce the risk of COVID-19 and address the issues with buildings that have been closed or underused for nearly a year.”
OEHS professionals are classified as essential workers who apply the “hierarchy of controls” to address workplace hazards.
“We shared with the Biden Administration the Back to Work Safely guidelines, which build on CDC and OSHA guidance. We also offered AIHA’s expertise in assisting the administration in communicating the overall importance of workplace health and safety, combating vaccination myths, and emphasizing the need for continued vigilance during the pandemic,” said Sloan.
AIHA’s Back to Work Safely guidelines, designed for small to mid-size businesses in 26 sectors, provide recommendations on PPE, engineering controls (e.g., ventilation, enhanced filtration, and physical barriers), enhanced cleaning and disinfection and personal hygiene, and physical distancing (all of which are in both English and Spanish). In addition to the BTWS guidelines, AIHA has free, detailed engineering controls resources, including:
- Guide for Recovering from COVID-19 Building Closures
- Reducing the Risk of COVID-19 Using Engineering Controls
- Employers Guide to COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection in Non-Healthcare Workplaces
- Effective and Safe Practices, Guidance for Custodians, Cleaning and Maintenance Staff
- Occupational Safety and Health Guide for Surface Disinfection Practices Using Germicidal Ultraviolet Radiation
The guidelines have been downloaded more than 1.25 million times, indicating the strong need in our workplace communities for guidance and resources. The authors of each of these documents are scientists and professionals with deep expertise in addressing this pandemic. They are well-regarded leaders in such areas as workplace respiratory protection programs, fit testing PPE, cleaning/disinfection protocols, and engineering controls strategies.
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.