STEVEN LACEY, PHD, CIH, CSP, is AIHA president and chair of Environmental Health Science at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He can be reached at (317) 274-3120 or
New Developments in Our NIOSH Partnership
In 2005, AIHA and NIOSH entered into a partnership that called for joint outreach and professional development opportunities, collaborations on research, and promotion of best practices to protect worker health. The most recent version of this agreement was signed in 2015 and runs through 2019—a period of time when both organizations will be getting a number of important initiatives off the ground.

FUTURE COLLABORATIONS This past November, NIOSH hosted a meeting with AIHA at the NIOSH National Personal Protection Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) in Pittsburgh. The meeting identified three specific areas where NIOSH and AIHA plan to collaborate over the next few years:
Big data. Large, complex datasets have vast potential to help IH/OH practitioners understand exposures and make better decisions. Developing our members’ ability to use these data is one of the areas that AIHA’s Content Portfolio Management Team identified as a high priority. At the November meeting, NIOSH indicated interest in working with AIHA to develop a framework for establishing the roles of industrial hygienists in collecting, managing, analyzing, and applying big data.
Workers’ compensation. NIOSH is working with insurance companies to determine how to best capture workers’ compensation data collected from employers. The NIOSH Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies is developing standardized forms for employers to use for compensation claims, which would improve the agency’s ability to analyze these data and better understand the factors that cause injuries and illnesses. Currently, workers’ compensation data is held in separate databases in all 50 states. Collecting this information in a centralized searchable database would allow comparisons of data across states and industries. There may be opportunities for AIHA’s local sections to help NIOSH with this project—we will reach out to local section leaders as we learn more.
NORA. The National Occupational Research Agenda promotes research and improved workplace practices across ten industry sectors. Each sector is led by a separate council comprising individuals and organizations with common interests. As NORA enters its third decade, NIOSH is forming “cross-sector councils” to address areas with overlap between industries such as hearing-loss prevention, respiratory health, and musculoskeletal health. AIHA is exploring how we can most appropriately engage in the NORA process.
Other topics discussed at the November meeting included the NIOSH Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies, the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation program, and updates on the agency’s research in advanced manufacturing and on occupational exposure banding (OEB). AIHA intends to create a body of knowledge on OEB once NIOSH completes its work on this project.
AIHA and NIOSH have always had a special relationship due to our common mission to protect worker health and the agency’s key role in conducting research on preventing workplace injuries and illnesses.
A STRONG BOND AIHA and NIOSH have always had a special relationship due to our common mission to protect worker health and the agency’s key role in conducting research on preventing workplace injuries and illnesses. NIOSH researchers have long been valued presenters at AIHA events, NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard is a frequent and popular keynote speaker at our conferences, and NIOSH participated in AIHA’s Sensor Technology Summit last summer. In addition, AIHA and NIOSH recently created Safety Matters, a program that raises awareness among young people about workplace health and safety. We’ve accomplished a lot together, and both organizations have greatly benefited from the other’s initiatives.
Our partnership with NIOSH is perhaps more crucial today than it has ever been given the agency’s role in training young industrial hygienists and AIHA’s recent conversations about filling the IH/OH pipeline (see my article in the December issue). Many AIHA members were trained through NIOSH Education and Resource Centers or received NIOSH funding during their education. AIHA and NIOSH are committed to maintaining our strong partnership in the years to come.