Our Work Continues

For nearly 80 years, AIHA has directly contributed to significant improvements in occupational health and safety. But we need to do more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13 workers die at work each day in the United States, and one study published in The Milbank Quarterly estimated that occupational illness contributed to 53,000 deaths in 2007 alone. Those numbers, and the men and women who depend on us, are all the motivation we need to make our vision—the elimination of workplace illness—a reality. In his last article as AIHA’s president, Steven Lacey, my predecessor, challenged AIHA members to “make an impact.” As AIHA’s president for 2017–18, I’m honored to echo Steven’s call to action. Over the next year, AIHA will further develop a number of initiatives that strengthen our profession and better position our members to improve workers’ health and safety, and we’ll need your help to succeed. Below are just a few of the items that AIHA is working on. Safety Matters. We are all indebted to Steven and NIOSH’s Rebecca Guerin for bringing this program to life. Safety Matters, a one-hour training module based on a longer NIOSH curriculum, is intended to address workplace injuries and fatalities among the youngest members of the U.S. work force. Any AIHA member or OHS professional can deliver Safety Matters to any gathering of high school-age kids. Everything you need to know about how to participate in this program is online in AIHA's Safety Matters Center. Steven and Rebecca will very much be involved as we build on their initial successes, which included passage of a new state law in Texas that encourages school districts and educators to include workplace safety training information in the curricula for students in grades 7–12. With Steven and Rebecca’s help, AIHA intends to create a road map that explains how members can get similar legislation passed in their home states. We hope to partner with sister organizations at the local level to leverage these efforts.
The men and women who depend on us are all the motivation we need to make our vision — the elimination of workplace illness — a reality.
DEBORAH IMEL NELSON, PhD, CIH, is president of AIHA. She can be reached at (720) 587-7500 or via email.
Women in IH Focus Group. At AIHce EXP in Seattle, AIHA held an open forum to discuss the challenges facing women in the OEHS industry. The standing-room-only crowd indicated that many members are passionate about fostering leadership opportunities for women in industrial hygiene and related fields. A few weeks after the conference, AIHA held a conference call with Focus Group participants. Among the ideas discussed were development of women-centric professional mentors, online discussion groups, leadership training for women, and additional sessions at next year’s AIHce in Philadelphia. #IAMIH. At the Opening General Session in Seattle, attendees were treated to the premier of a short documentary film about Robert Kirkby, an IH with the Michigan State Police. This film is a product of the #IAMIH campaign, which encompasses several activities that are intended to inform the public about IH and inspire future generations to enter the profession. Other #IAMIH projects include the IH Heroes comic books that also debuted at AIHce. Further films and comic books are planned. The Foundation. With almost $2 million in scholarship funds distributed since 1982, the Foundation has long been the most consistent supporter of IH students. As Baby Boomers’ careers wind down, the Foundation and the Fellows will need to assume an even larger role in sustaining and mentoring the next generation of IH professionals. Worker lives matter—to their families, to their friends, and to the nation. That’s why AIHA members do what we do to protect worker health. If you’re not already an active member at the local and/or national level, please accept this invitation to get involved. Together, we can do more to protect worker health!