A Reset for AIHA’s International Outreach
Two years ago, then-AIHA President Steven Lacey published an article in The Synergist that summarized AIHA’s long history of international outreach and introduced a new strategy the Board favored moving forward. Recently, the Board fleshed out the strategy with specific objectives and metrics for determining success. Our new approach specifies two clear goals for AIHA’s international activities: increasing awareness of occupational health and safety and advancing the organization’s business interests abroad. These goals also complement and integrate with the activities of AIHA’s affiliated laboratory- related programs.

AIHA ABROAD AIHA’s international engagement stretches back decades. If you’re interested in learning more about this history, I recommend that you read Steven’s article. The Board’s new strategy recognizes that AIHA does not have the capacity to continue all these activities indefinitely. Instead, we are prioritizing activities that fall into five categories: altruistic, membership-related, relationship building, educational, and standards-related.  Altruistic Activities AIHA has entered into a fruitful partnership with the Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA), which promotes better standards of occupational hygiene practice throughout the world. OHTA offers online training courses intended to increase the number of knowledgeable IH/OH practitioners in places where demand for these services exceeds supply. AIHA makes monetary contributions to support OHTA. Other elements of AIHA’s international outreach include discounts on educational materials for international members and a new micro-grants program intended to build industrial hygiene capacity in developing countries. We are also considering expanding the scope of the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation to offer a scholarship for individuals who travel to a developing country to teach or for work. Membership-Related Activities One of our business-oriented goals for international outreach is to increase membership, either by finding more industrial hygienists interested in what AIHA has to offer or by creating new IH practitioners from technician-level professionals. One way we’ve made our offerings more appealing to members outside North America is by creating a new “virtual section” for international members who aren’t currently served by a local section. We’ve also created a community for international members on Catalyst (international members can join online).  A related priority is raising awareness among all AIHA members of the need for a global standard of care for occupational health and safety, addressing issues such as child labor, the informal work force, and lax enforcement of OHS regulations. Creating a global standard of care is one of the priorities identified by AIHA’s Content Portfolio Advisory Group. The need for a global standard has become apparent as supply chains have expanded into regions of the world that have different regulations and expectations for OHS.  Relationship-Building Activities Over the years, several AIHA presidents have attended events held by our sister organizations abroad. These meetings strengthen relationships and generate goodwill among our colleagues overseas. AIHA has specifically provided support for educational programs held by the Central Industrial Hygiene Association of India (CIHA), and recent AIHA presidents have attended CIHA’s annual conference. A few years ago, we introduced a new Global Access Program (GAP) in coordination with the British Occupational Hygiene Society and the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists. GAP gives members of each participating association access to select benefits of the other associations for a discounted price. After suspending the program for a year, we relaunched it as the General Access Program in late 2018 with a new mix of benefits. Our annual international reception at AIHce is a great way for members to meet colleagues from abroad. At AIHce EXP 2019 in Minneapolis, the international reception will be held on Monday, May 20, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Hilton Minneapolis hotel.  Educational Activities Starting in the mid-1990s, AIHA organized, sponsored, or participated in several meetings and conferences in China, Singapore, and Malaysia. These events succeeded in bringing AIHA-quality education to an international audience. Moving forward, AIHA will seek to provide speakers for conferences in this region of the world if we can do so in an economical fashion. The highlight of our international outreach to date was the opportunity for AIHA to host last year’s International Occupational Hygiene Association conference in Washington, D.C., the first time IOHA’s signature event was held in the United States. We welcomed more than 500 attendees from 36 countries who gave the conference high marks in post-conference surveys. AIHA was instrumental in IOHA’s formation in 1987, and we look forward to continuing our support of this vital global force in occupational hygiene.
KATHY MURPHY, CIH, is AIHA president-elect and director of Global Regulatory Affairs at Sherwin Williams in Cleveland, Ohio. She can be reached via email.

Other educational initiatives include our participation in converting the OHTA course “Basic Principles of Occupational Hygiene” into an e-learning platform that can be delivered anywhere in the world. In 2018, we also initiated new travel grants for international participants in AIHA’s Future Leaders Institute, a program that focuses on strengthening the leadership skills of young industrial hygiene and OEHS professionals. Standards and Guidelines Although AIHA is no longer a standards development organization, many of our volunteers serve on standards-related committees. Their participation ensures that we have influence over standards that affect the international practice of industrial hygiene. Our standards activities are overseen by our Standards Advisory Panel, which prioritizes areas of engagement. AIHA is also a cofounder of the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability, which promotes the inclusion of OHS metrics in sustainability reporting. We will continue supporting CSHS through annual contributions. LABORATORY PROGRAMS No discussion of AIHA’s international engagement would be complete without mention of AIHA’s laboratory-related programs, the AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, LLC, and the AIHA Proficiency Analytical Testing Programs, LLC. AIHA-LAP and AIHA PAT Programs are separate business entities within AIHA and have their own volunteer leadership structure and dedicated staff. Their international activities are business-oriented and therefore distinct from (but no less important than) AIHA’s primarily altruistic approach. AIHA-LAP AIHA-LAP is internationally recognized, which means that a third-party (the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation, or ILAC) has determined that it conforms to ISO/IEC 17011, Conformity assessment - requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies. AIHA-LAP is also a signatory of the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement, which is signed by accreditation bodies that have been evaluated by ILAC peers and deemed competent and equivalent. Two regional bodies—the Inter American Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation and the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation—have also recognized AIHA-LAP. International accreditation allows AIHA-LAP to interact with accreditation bodies from more than 80 countries. The core of AIHA-LAP’s business is accrediting laboratories to ISO/IEC 17025, Testing and calibration laboratories. AIHA-LAP currently accredits 24 industrial hygiene labs outside the United States.  AIHA PAT Programs Participating in proficiency testing helps laboratories ensure that they’re giving their customers good data. AIHA PAT Programs assesses laboratories’ quality control programs, allowing participants to demonstrate that they’re able to correctly analyze both workplace and environmental samples. AIHA PAT Programs is an accredited provider of proficiency testing under ISO/IEC 17043, Conformity assessment—General requirements for proficiency testing. AIHA PAT encompasses five programs: the Bulk Asbestos Proficiency Analytical Testing Program, Beryllium Proficiency Analytical Testing Program, Environmental Lead Proficiency Analytical Testing Program, Environmental Microbiology Proficiency Analytical Testing Program, and the Industrial Hygiene Proficiency Analytical Testing Program. These programs align closely with AIHA-LAP’s accreditation programs, and many accredited laboratories use AIHA PAT for their proficiency testing needs. Currently, AIHA PAT Programs participates in 23 countries and is listed in international directories as an accredited provider of proficiency testing. LOOKING FORWARD Last year, AIHA issued a public call for volunteers to serve on a new International Advisory Group that would provide input and recommendations to the Board on international strategic priorities. The members of this group have broad global experience, and they’re already helping the Board make good decisions on how to implement our strategic goals and balance our altruistic activities with fiscal obligations to our membership. In the coming years, the Board will have the opportunity to address many international issues. How, and to what extent, should AIHA collaborate on international initiatives with other health and safety organizations? How can we provide high quality training to support IH practitioners in other countries? In which parts of the world are we likely to have the greatest impact, and in which languages should our books and educational materials be translated? AIHA’s new international strategy will help the Board answer these questions and better position our organization to capitalize on opportunities to promote membership and protect worker health worldwide.
The highlight of our international outreach to date was the opportunity for AIHA to host last year’s International Occupational Hygiene Association conference in Washington, D.C.