When news was initially released that Wuhan, China was impacted by the coronavirus, EI immediately launched a series of weekly educational blogs in mid-January highlighting pragmatic occupational health and industrial hygiene practices, which minimize the possibility of coronavirus transmission in the workplace. The blog series has covered the following:

  1. Business Contingency Plans to include coronavirus pandemic planning
  2. Respiratory Protection – N95’s vs. Surgical Masks
  3. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) monitoring/corrective measures to minimize airborne COVID-19
  4. Cleaning & Disinfection – Cleaning, disinfection and verification protocol. Optimal EPA List N disinfectants and the importance of their proper application
  5. Employee Medical Screening – Detailed guidance for identifying potential carriers of COVID-19
  6. Reopening Business – Guidelines for minimizing occupational COVID-19 transmission as social distancing is relaxed

The background information in EI’s blog series builds an excellent foundation for a comprehensive plan to minimize occupational transmission of COVID-19 when reopening businesses.

by J. Lindsay Cook, CIH, CSP FAIHA
Senior Vice President, Occupational Health & Safety Services, The EI Group, Inc.
President-Elect, AIHA

This week, America’s businesses are grappling with the idea of re-opening and returning to some form of normalcy, whatever that is, following the many impacts of COVID-19 on our nation’s health and economy. This return is particularly difficult for the nation’s smaller businesses, especially those that deal with customers and members of the public. 

To help our nation’s re-opening, a team of experts from AIHA, a professional association of occupational health and safety science professionals, has worked tirelessly over the last several weeks to develop industry-specific guidelines to help employers and employees get back to work safely. Specific guidance documents are posted for retail, restaurants, hair and nail salons, construction, at home service providers, general office settings, gyms and workout facilities, and rideshare, taxi and limo services. The documents include practical, step-by-step approaches for getting back to business and include steps that the employer, employees and customers should take. The guidance documents, as well as other resources for dealing with COVID-19 concerns, can be found at the website www.backtoworksafely.org . They are available for free download and more are expected in the coming days.

The Guidelines have received significant attention and distribution already, being tweeted out just last week by Mark Cuban, a member of the White House-appointed Economic Revival Industry Groups, and a key supporter of our effort.

AIHA continues to work with other professional and industry organizations to spread this guidance. However, with the recent CDC decision not to release their guidelines for reopening the country, it is more important than ever to get this information into the hands of people that need it. If you are attempting to get your small business up and running in this new environment as state and local restrictions are being eased, or an employee returning to work, I encourage you to consult these guidelines for practical advice developed to address the needs and concerns of your business. And help us spread the word by passing these along to your friends and associates whenever you have the chance!

How Can We Help?
Resources abound as you develop a phased approach to reopening your business. The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI’s) Roadmap to Reopening also details a stepwise approach with tangible milestones and markers to assist your planning team. We’re all eager to return to the way of life we were accustomed to before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As your business begins easing social distancing restrictions, careful planning is imperative. The EI Group’s team of occupational health, industrial hygiene and safety professionals is here to support you as you navigate the challenges of returning to work. If you have any questions regarding return-to-work planning, please don’t hesitate to contact EI at (800) 717-3472 or email Greg Lathan, President at [email protected].