Early case reports and epidemiological studies of groups where SARS-CoV-2 has led to outbreaks of COVID-19 indicates that the primary means of disease transmis-sion is the indoor spread of exhaled droplet aerosols. Armed with this knowledge, industrial hygiene pro–fessionals may limit SARS-CoV-2 transmission using the hierarchy of controls. Engineering controls that can keep infectious aerosols at very low levels indoors offer the greatest promise to protect non-healthcare work–ers and other vulnerable populations as we reopen our businesses and workplaces.
Relying upon individuals to maintain social distanc-ing, perform perpetual hand washing, and, when available, wear the lowest form of personal protec-tive equipment (PPE) on the market can only achieve so much in preventing the spread of COVID-19. And because infected people transmitting the disease can be asymptomatic or presymptomatic, it is im-practical to “eliminate” all sources of infection. With this in mind, the industrial hygiene profession has long recognized that engineered solutions to reduce exposure to hazardous agents offer much great–er protection than PPE or administrative controls in most workplace settings. (NIOSH)
Many employers and the public incorrectly assume that wearing face coverings or a respirator is the only way to reduce their risk of exposure. Invariably this is not the case—the reality is that wearing a res-pirator properly every day, all day, is uncomfortable and rarely done properly. Engineering controls have historically proven to be more reliable because they are less prone to human error.