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
A Strategy for International Engagement
In September 2018, AIHA will host the Scientific Conference of the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA), the umbrella for national member organizations. About 1,000 occupational hygienists from around the world are expected to attend the 2018 conference in Washington, D.C., the first time it will be held in the United States. Hosting the conference is both a wonderful honor for AIHA and an excellent opportunity to develop closer relationships with the 52 national associations that comprise IOHA’s membership.

As we look forward to the conference, now is an ideal time to take inventory of our projects and activities around the world and advance these efforts to an international strategy. During its meeting in January, the AIHA Board of Directors took stock of our current international involvement and discussed some guiding principles moving forward. LONG HISTORY AIHA has a long and fruitful history of international engagement. We’ve been part of IOHA from the very beginning and were a driving force behind IOHA’s formation at AIHce 1987 in Montreal. A few years later, the AIHA Board made a strategic decision to prioritize China and India in our international outreach efforts. This decision, supported by subsequent Boards, helped focus our resources where they could be most effective.
AIHA’s expertise offered opportunities to hold conferences and other educational events in both countries, with various levels of involvement—actively participating in planning for some, while lending logistical, administrative, or promotional support for others. Through these efforts we have provided technical guidance and deepened our relationships with our colleagues in China and India.
Of course, our international engagement has reached beyond these two countries. Through AIHA's ambassadors program we have official representatives to 13 countries. We've fostered professional development in several countries in the Americas and in eastern Europe, and we've supported our Local Sections' Developing World Outreach Initiative (DWOI), which delivers industrial hygiene resources to countries that need them, and the Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA), which creates localized courses for technician-level OHS training around the world. Great work continues from our members involved in Workplace Health Without Borders, AIHA’s International Affairs Committee, and others. Finally, AIHA has longstanding close ties to the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) and the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH).
Population and industry trends will strongly dictate where the next future hygienist will be born and where she will work.
BUSINESS AND MISSION The sense of the Board at its January meeting was that AIHA's international outreach should have a two-pronged strategy: to further AIHA's business interests, and to increase awareness of occupational health and safety principles where it's needed most. Population and industry trends will strongly dictate where the next future hygienist will be born and where she will work. From a business perspective, AIHA’s international efforts should aim to increase sales of our products and services, increase the number of CIHs, and develop new networking opportunities for our members. At the same time, we need to facilitate awareness of worker health protection principles and begin to build capacity in the places of greatest need. To do this, we will need to apply a consistent, systematic approach to developing partnerships and collaborations with like-minded organizations in focused regions, and help organize and leverage smaller, disparate outreach efforts. The overarching goal is the same as here at home: to protect worker health.
Running AIHA as a sustainable business and advancing our outreach mission are not mutually exclusive activities. One can, and should, help the other, because both stem from the same guiding vision: our commitment to applying a global standard of care to occupational health and safety. All workers deserve the highest possible level of workplace health protection, regardless of where they are born. This is necessarily a long-term, big-picture commitment, and our success will be measured over years and decades.