Back in early January, I started watching what was going on in China with an outbreak of a novel virus. At the time, it got a bit of a mention on the news here and there. But it was there, and we were here, so no big deal; nothing to worry about. Fast forward to late March, and the world of a Safety Professional seems to have changed quite a bit in response to what we now know as SARS-CoV-2.

Working in the health care industry gives me a unique perspective as not only are our employees going to be susceptible to the same community spread as everyone else, but they are actually the ones who will be on the front line of the battle against this disease. Over the past several months, not only have lives changed for many people as they deal with this global pandemic, but the way in which safety professionals operate has changed as well.

A few of my key observations of the past several months:

Hopefully, things start to turn around across the United States. We are currently seeing our surge of patients in the Greater Houston area, which is actually seeing mostly younger and healthier people getting infected. But until we have an effective vaccine (which is still at least a year away, if one actually does get to be developed) or we see some amount of herd immunity developed or some reduction in the pathogenicity of the virus, we are going to be dealing with these issues for quite some time.

William J. Pate, DrPH, MBA, CHP, CIH, CSP, CHMM

Senior Instructor

Dr. Pate has over 10 years of environmental health and safety experience in academic, research and healthcare settings in both the public and private sectors. Dr. Pate's EHS experience has ranged from collection and management of radioactive, chemical, and biologic waste streams for a major research university to management of a comprehensive EHS program for a large multi-facility health system. Dr. Pate has been responsible for the development and delivery of a variety of EHS training topics, and his goal is to assist Bowen EHS clients in achieving their professional development goals. Outside of work, Dr. Pate enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters.

Read more from Dr. Pate on his blog: Unsafe Musings of a Safety Professional


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Bowen EHS.