Throughout the pandemic through which we are living, there has been a lot of confusion and ignorance around who or what is considered “essential.” For companies, being considered essential has meant the difference between being able to stay open or be closed in some states. For individuals, it can determine when you will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

So it was with all this in mind that I studied the Department of Homeland Security memo issued December 16, 2020 titled “Advisory Memorandum on Ensuring Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers’ Ability to Work During the COVID-19 Response.” The memo details which workers, by function, are considered essential during the pandemic. This category includes persons aged 16-64 years with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19, as well as essential workers. A thorough reading of the 24-page document leads me to conclude that most of the workers in our industry are considered essential and would be included in Phase 1C for vaccinations.

Specifically, the memo names the following workers, by function, as essential and eligible for vaccination in Phase 1C:

1. Workplace safety officers;

2. Workers who support weather disaster and natural hazard mitigation and prevention activity (One would expect this to include workers who install safety, security and/or hurricane-resistant glazing.);

3. Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forestry products including timber and other wood and fiber products;

4. Workers supporting the energy sector;

5. Workers supporting or enabling transportation and logistics functions. This includes truck drivers, dispatchers and repair technicians;

6. Workers who repair and maintain vehicles (I would expect this would include auto glass service providers.);

7. Workers who support the construction, maintenance or rehabilitation of critical infrastructure;

8. Workers who support the production of construction materials, testing laboratories, material delivery services and construction inspections;

9. (This one is the most closely on point): Workers such as plumbers, electricians, builders, contractors, HVAC technicians, elevator technicians, landscapers and other service providers who provide services, including temporary construction, that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals and senior living facilities;

10. Workers necessary for the manufacturer of metals, including steel and aluminum;

11. Workers manufacturing or providing parts and equipment that enable the maintenance and continued operation of essential businesses and facilities;

12. Workers who support supply chain of building materials from production through application and installation including cabinetry, fixtures, doors, hardware, paint and coatings and workers who provide services that enable repair and maintenance of such;

13. Workers who support the operations of commercial buildings that are critical to safety, security and the continuance of essential activities such as … service technicians;

14. Workers responsible for handling property maintenance and related service calls who can coordinate the response to emergency “at home” situations requiring immediate attention; and

15. Workers providing services in support of elderly or disabled populations.

In short, many employees in the architectural and automotive glass industry, along with those in the door and window industry will qualify for vaccination as essential. If you would like a copy of the full HLS memo to review, just send me at email to

It’s a tough message with which to start the year. The development of vaccines gives hope that the crisis will abate and the incidence of illness and death dissipate as more people become vaccinated. My wish for you is a happy and healthy 2021.

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