On August 31, AIHA (formerly the American Industrial Hygiene Association) released guidance documents and a white paper for employers trying to control workplace infections during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
AIHA’s “Back to Work Safely” library now includes white papers and resources intended for 26 different business and community sectors, including construction sites, general office settings, small manufacturing and maintenance shops, and warehousing and transportation.
The group’s latest guidelines include recommendations on engineering controls (ventilation, enhanced filtration, and physical barriers), germicidal ultraviolet radiation, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and personal hygiene and physical distancing.
“While many solutions rely primarily on PPE (personal protective equipment), AIHA scientists and health professionals have developed more comprehensive guidelines which are specific and written with small to mid-sized businesses in mind,” AIHA President Lindsay Cook said in a statement.
“The guidelines include practical checklists that point out ways the employer, employees, customers and visitors can minimize their risk,” according to Cook.
AIHA’s committees of industrial hygienists are urging employers to put engineering controls in all indoor workplaces, including workplaces outside of the healthcare industry, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Engineering controls include devices that inactivate or “kill” infectious organisms; dilution ventilation and increasing outside air delivery; enhanced filtration in heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to capture infectious aerosols; local exhaust ventilation and physical barriers, enclosures, and guards; and sensors and automatic door openers.
The most recently released guidance documents include:
- “Reducing the Risk of COVID-19 Using Engineering Controls,” which informs employers that engineering controls have historically proven to be more reliable than PPE because they are less prone to human error and includes an illustration mapping COVID-19 health and safety interventions to the traditional “hierarchy of controls” for workplace safety and health (elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administration controls, and PPE);
- “Employers Guide to COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection in Non-Healthcare Workplaces,” which helps employers develop and implement a plan for cleaning and disinfecting “high-touch” surfaces, as well as for maintaining, updating, and revising the cleaning and disinfection plan;
- “Effective and Safe Practices, Guidance for Custodians, Cleaning, and Maintenance Staff,” which includes chemical safety information about cleaners and disinfectants and recommended PPE for use during cleaning and maintenances, as well as what, when, and how to clean and disinfect;
- “Occupational Safety and Health Guide for Surface Disinfection Practices using Germicidal Ultraviolet Radiation,” a white paper addressing the growing interest in expanding the use of germicidal ultraviolet (UV) technology in office building, hotel, retail, or school ventilation systems and public transportation vehicles such as subway cars and city buses; and
- “Considerations on the Safe use of UVC Radiation for Surface and Air Disinfection,” an infographic that describes the historical use of UV light as a germicide and the safety concerns surrounding UV radiation exposure.
AIHA is an organization of professionals in the occupational and environmental health and safety field that includes nearly 8,500 members who are certified industrial hygienists.