Selecting Controls for Minimizing SARS-CoV-2 Aerosol Transmission in Workplaces and Conserving Respiratory Protective Equipment Supplies

Ann Work Expo Health. 2020 Aug 21;wxaa083. doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxaa083. Online ahead of print.


With growing evidence of inhalation of small infectious particles as an important mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2, workplace risk assessments should focus on eliminating or minimizing such exposures by applying the hierarchy of controls. We adapt a control banding model for aerosol-transmissible infectious disease pandemic planning to encourage the use of source and pathway controls before receptor controls (personal protective equipment). Built on the recognition that aerosol-transmissible organisms are likely to exhibit a dose-response function, such that higher exposures result from longer contact times or higher air concentrations, this control banding model offers a systematic method for identifying a set of source and pathway controls that could eliminate or reduce the need for receptor controls. We describe several examples for workers at high risk of exposure in essential or return to work categories. The goal of using control banding for such workers is to develop effective infection and disease prevention programs and conserve personal protective equipment.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; aerosol transmission; control banding; hierarchy of controls; occupational safety and health; workplace exposure.