Getting East Texas Safely Back to Work

COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness that may also affect other organs. It spreads from person to person typically by respiratory droplets between people in close contact, generally within six feet.

It is a new virus, and there is much that the medical and scientific community is still learning.

We believe that there are large portions of the community who have not been infected or exposed to COVID-19. The potential for new infections still persists. In order to protect vulnerable members of our community, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have published excellent guidance documents with specific actions that should be taken as businesses reopen.

The risk of infection is related to the amount of exposure and the length of that exposure.

This can be a large exposure over a short period of time or a smaller exposure over a long period of time.

Efforts to reduce risk are aimed at decreasing the amount of exposure and/or reducing the time of exposure with interventions like:

  • Requiring sick employees to stay at home.
  • Encouraging continued work-from-home options, especially for high-risk employees.
  • Rotating employees to limit prolonged direct contact with customers and other employees.
  • Promoting social distancing.
  • Wearing masks.
  • Increasing ventilation rates in buildings and upgrading filtration.
  • Cleaning frequently to reduce viral load on surfaces.
  • Adding barriers to decrease virus spread into the environment.

We are Here to Help

The Texas Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (TIOSH®) is the occupational and environmental medicine program of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. TIOSH® was created to assist companies and their employees in meeting the goal of a safer and healthier workplace. Partnering with public health officials, we have worked with our institution and local businesses during the pandemic to adapt available guidelines to meet their unique needs. These flowcharts return-to-work screening and employee-risk stratification are examples of the assistance we can provide.

For a limited group of high-risk businesses, such as dental offices, compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Respiratory Protection Standard is mandatory. We have expertise in the application of OSHA requirements, risk assessment, engineering and administrative controls and personal protective equipment such as respirators.

This webpage is not meant to be a comprehensive guide. There are many helpful tools available from several reliable sources.

Additional helpful references

Resuming Business Toolkit
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Cleaning and Disinfecting Guide
from the Texas Poison Center Network

Respirators and Masks – What are the Differences
from the Maryland Department of Labor

Workplace Decision Tool
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention