DANIEL H. ANNA, PhD, CIH, CSP, is president of AIHA and senior industrial hygienist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. He can be reached at (240) 228-1980 or
A Broader Commitment to Standards
Over the past several months, AIHA’s Strategic Direction Task Force has been reviewing the input collected from members and other stakeholders as part of the development of AIHA’s revised Strategic Plan. But that is a topic for a future Synergist column. This column is about a specific theme that was threaded throughout the comments from the different stakeholder groups: the need for AIHA to be involved in development of standards related to health and safety. With further discussion, it became obvious that information about current efforts was not being communicated effectively, resulting in the perception that AIHA was no longer involved in standards development. AIHA, through a strong network of volunteers, continues to be involved in standards development in the U.S. and globally, and that involvement will continue to grow.
Engagement in standards will remain a priority of the association. The AIHA Board continues to support the evolution of AIHA's involvement in standards development.
It has been almost four years since the AIHA Board made a strategic decision to discontinue being a Standards Developing Organization (SDO). The cost associated with being an SDO for three ANSI standards was limiting our ability to support a broader spectrum of standards that were deemed important to members. Ultimately, having industrial hygiene representation on more standards is the way for AIHA to more effectively meet its commitment to standards development, and allows the available resources—financial, staff, and volunteer—to be distributed to a wider group of activities. Currently, AIHA representatives are serving on 26 domestic and international standards committees. These standards address a variety of OHS-related topics including air quality, confined spaces, environmental management, management systems, nanotechnology, noise, ionizing and nonionizing radiation, social responsibility, EHS training, and ventilation. STANDARDS ADVISORY PANEL The Standards Advisory Panel that was formed within the AIHA Guideline Foundation (AGF) in 2012 has completed its first set of tasks. The Panel developed a standards engagement strategy that will allow AIHA to engage more effectively in developing and influencing standards in support of the organization’s strategic goals and objectives. Within this engagement strategy, the Panel established methods for evaluating and prioritizing standards activities. Testing and implementation of these methods are under way. In addition to implementing the engagement strategy, the next tasks for the Panel include monitoring new national and international health and safety standards activities and trends, recommending new AIHA areas of standards engagement, and reporting on current standards activities. The Panel will also consider ongoing AIHA initiatives when determining where to focus standards development activities. To help inform recommendations, input will be gathered from a diverse group of stakeholders: AIHA volunteer groups; AIHA standards representatives; AIHA staff; and others. The Panel has started identifying liaisons between each of the Volunteer Groups and the Panel. These liaisons will help inform the Panel about relevant standards within their area of expertise. The Panel will oversee the activities of AIHA’s representatives to other standards-setting bodies to determine if participation remains a priority; capture information that may impact future standard development activities; ensure that the information has been shared with the appropriate stakeholders; develop recommendations for appropriate financial support to be allocated; ensure that there is an AIHA position on any standard where comments are provided; and recommend, to the AGF president, appointments of representatives and/or alternates to standards development organizations. In the coming months, some Panel members will rotate off of the team, and an “all call” soliciting new volunteers will be distributed. Additionally, a subject matter expert (SME) will be engaged to assist the panel with implementation of the engagement strategy and with the environmental scanning needed to identify relevant standards. CONTINUED ENGAGEMENT Although the changes have been slower than anticipated, engagement in standards continues and will remain a priority of the association. The AIHA Board continues to support the evolution of AIHA’s involvement in standards development. The new direction has placed AIHA in a better position to advance the industrial hygiene profession and protect worker health.