AIHA releases new back to work safely guidelines across 26 different business sectors in English and Spanish

As COVID-19 cases spike across the country and schools and businesses brace for the cold winter months ahead, occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) experts urge business owners and schools to implement practical science-based guidelines. AIHA, the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring OEHS in the workplace and community, expanded its library of comprehensive Back to Work Safely guidelines for employers with the addition of 18 new sectors, including higher education, schools K-12, dental offices, bars, amateur sports and more (see below for comprehensive list of all 26). Many of the guidelines are available in both English and Spanish.

The authors of AIHA’s guidelines are OEHS scientists and professionals from a variety of industries with deep expertise in addressing this pandemic.  They are well-regarded leaders in such areas as workplace engineering control strategies, respiratory protection programs, fit testing PPE and cleaning/disinfection protocols. These AIHA members volunteered their time to develop these guidelines.  AIHA was able to have them reviewed by RHP Risk Management, as third-party OEHS experts to verify accuracy and ensure harmonization across the entire library based on evolving understanding of best-in-class control strategies.

“Many of the recommendations being released by federal and state government agencies and other organizations are idealistic, yet lack common-sense recommendations. AIHA’s guidance documents are practical and reflect the extensive knowledge and experience in the field of exposure science,” said Lawrence Sloan, AIHA’s CEO. “The bottom line is that guidelines need to be understandable and feasible for businesses to adopt them. Strategies such as increasing the number of air exchanges per hour, installing portable HEPA filters in high-occupancy rooms, and increasing the volume of outside versus recirculated air are relatively simple measures that can be implemented by building managers and operations staff,” he added.

All of these guidance documents provide recommendations on engineering controls (e.g., ventilation, enhanced filtration and physical barriers), enhanced cleaning and disinfection and personal hygiene and physical distancing. To date there have been more than 1 million downloads from www.backtoworksafely.org website. The Back to Work Safely guidelines include the following:

  • Amateur Sports
  • At-Home Service Providers*
  • Bars
  • Business Services (i.e. banks, dry cleaners)**
  • Childcare Providers
  • Construction Sites*
  • Dental Office Settings**
  • General Office Settings*
  • Gyms and Workout Facilities*
  • Hair and Nail Salons*
  • Institutions of Higher Education
  • Libraries
  • Museums and Collecting Institutions
  • Outdoor Recreation Activities
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy, Massage Therapy
  • Restaurants*
  • Retail*
  • Rideshare, Taxi, Limo and Other Passenger Driver-for-Hire*
  • Schools K-12
  • Small Manufacturing and Maintenance Shops
  • Small Sports and Entertainment Venues (i.e. mini-golf, arcades)
  • Small Lodging Establishments
  • Street Vendors and Farmers Markets
  • Transit Systems**
  • Warehousing/Transportation**
  • Worship Services

(*Denotes availability in English and Spanish; **Denotes coming soon in Spanish)

AIHA has also issued Guidelines addressing COVID-19-related topics (all of which are in both English and Spanish), including engineering controls and cleaning and disinfection in non-healthcare settings):

Pertaining to K-12 schools in particular, “COVID-19 is bringing to a head the deplorable condition of schools that have been neglected because parents don’t see it, so it is not an area of focus,” said Dr. David Krause,  a Certified Industrial Hygienist and Toxicologist, contributor to several of these guidance documents.