With two U.S. health care workers confirmed to have the Ebola virus, the American Industrial Hygiene Association is urging President Obama and federal agencies to help the health care community emphasize personal protective equipment and other safety precautions for health care workers.
In letters to the White House, CDC, OSHA and NIOSH, AIHA Executive Director Peter O’Neil expressed concern about the U.S. health care sector’s readiness to provide adequate protections.
“Diseases like Ebola create public concern for the health and safety of health care workers, and it is only a matter of time before this concern spreads to other workers,” said O’Neil. “Industrial hygienists around the world are actively working to ask questions, seek solutions and provide information to ensure people have a good understanding of, and protection from, this disease.”
He asserted that AIHA members offer “a unique skill set that is tremendously applicable to this emerging crisis.”
“We believe that the role of industrial hygienists will become increasingly important as more workers become concerned,” O’Neil added.
AIHA’s letters urge OSHA to quickly move forward with a delayed infectious-disease rule, which would provide increased protections and recommendations for America’s health care workers. The letters also encourage the agency to work with NIOSH, CDC and other stakeholders to weed out any misleading information from the science of how best to protect workers against contracting the virus.
AIHA urges Obama to support efforts to protect health care workers and calls on Congress to appropriate the necessary funds to carry out such initiatives.
The Ebola crisis has prompted industrial hygiene and health and safety professionals to take extra measures to ensure that health, safety and infection controls are properly implemented to safeguard health care workers and others during this outbreak, AIHA notes. The association has created a Web page that contains pertinent information for industrial hygienists, EHS professionals and the public.