EXPERT ALERT: AIHA Voices Urgent Concerns about OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard on Occupational Exposure to COVID-19, Welcomes Progress

What: AIHA, the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety in the workplace and community, welcomes the publication of an emergency temporary standard (ETS) on occupational exposure to COVID-19 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, AIHA expresses concerns related to several aspects of the ETS as it is written. Particular areas of the ETS urgently require closer examination and immediate revision: that is, those dealing with ventilation, physical barriers, transmission by inhalation of SARS-CoV-2, and OSHA’s use of the hierarchy of controls. AIHA recommends for OSHA to also revisit the portions of the ETS related to patient screening and management, employee screening, recordkeeping, best practices and behaviors, cleaning and disinfecting, hand hygiene, COVID-19 plans, and OSHA’s proposed mini respiratory protection program. For the purpose of discussing AIHA’s concerns about the ETS, AIHA offers introductions for interviews with industrial hygiene and occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) experts who are equipped to provide feedback on the elements of the ETS that AIHA urges to be revised.

Why: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration invited partners and collaborators to provide written feedback on the healthcare emergency temporary standard issued in June 2021. The standard focuses on those healthcare workers that are most likely to have contact with someone infected with the virus SARS-CoV-2.

Who: Experts in industrial hygiene and OEHS are available upon request to discuss AIHA’s concerns about OSHA’s ETS with the media. The experts who authored AIHA’s recommendations to OSHA and are available for interviews are listed here, along with their areas of expertise relevant to the ETS:

  • Lisa Brosseau, ScD, CIH
    • Physical barriers
    • Aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2
    • Ventilation
    • Mini respirator protection program
  • Stephanie Caler, MPH, CIH, CSP, REHS
    • Physical barriers
    • Aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2
    • Ventilation
    • Severability
  • Brandi Kissel, CIH
    • Mini respirator protection program
  • Dana Hollins, MPH, CIH
    • Patient and employee health screening and medical management
    • Testing
    • Recordkeeping
  • Jim McGlothlin, MPH, PhD, CPE, FAIHA
    • Patient and employee health screening and medical management
    • Testing
    • Recordkeeping
  • Justine Parker, CIH, CSP, CPH, CHMM
    • Best practices and behaviors
    • Cleaning and disinfection of surfaces
    • Hand hygiene
    • COVID-19 plan

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.

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