Preparing for the Future

Earlier this year, AIHA conducted a comprehensive environmental scan of the industrial hygiene profession. But what is an “environmental scan,” and what does it mean for us as industrial hygienists?
In order to be successful, any association must first understand the forces impacting the future of the profession it represents. This is where the environmental scan comes into play. A professional environmental scan helps us understand the context in which AIHA and its members operate. It allows AIHA to more accurately predict and prepare for future challenges and opportunities, and to address the needs of our members.  KEY FINDINGS Of the 8,092 AIHA members and nonmember IHs invited to participate in the environmental scan survey, 916 replied. Eighty-seven percent of the participants were AIHA members.  The 2019 environmental scan had three goals: to identify current and future trends; to determine whether the content priorities identified and agreed upon by AIHA members in 2013 remain relevant to the professionals in the field; and to uncover what new trends and developments are on the horizon.  Key findings of the 2019 environmental scan include: 
  • The aging workforce and lack of young people entering the field remains a top challenge for the field of IH, followed by advancement in technology and lack of clear definition between IH and other disciplines. 
  • When it comes to AIHA’s efforts in identifying and responding to these challenges, 51 percent say that AIHA is somewhat effective in addressing the issue of an aging workforce; 42 percent of the participants believe that AIHA has been very effective in addressing advancements in technology; and 49 percent think that AIHA is somewhat effective in addressing the issue of lack of definition between IH and other disciplines. 
In order to be successful, any association must first understand the forces impacting the future of the profession it represents.
DINA M. SIEGEL, CIH, CSP, CBSP, FAIHA, is secretary of AIHA’s Board of Directors. Send feedback to The Synergist.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the SynergistNOW blog on August 30, 2019.
  • On the subject of AIHA’s current content priorities, “business case,” “changing workforce,” and “total worker exposure” claim the top three spots. Forty percent of participants say that AIHA is somewhat successful in providing content for business case development and total worker exposure, and 44 percent believe the same for the changing workforce.
  • Forty-three percent of participants see “business case: promoting the value of IH professionals” as the most valuable topic, compared with 38 percent who see more value in sensor technologies. Thirty-seven percent voted for total worker exposure as more valuable. 
  • Another interesting finding highlighted by the report is the preferred learning formats for most of the participants: webinars and online courses, followed closely by professional development courses and guidance documents. 
It is important to note that most of the participants would like AIHA to focus its efforts on creating new content around emerging issues. AIHA sees the environmental scan as an opportunity to consider new content for AIHA products. 
COMMITTED TO EDUCATION So where do we go from here? 
AIHA will continue to provide content around the topics of total worker exposure, the changing workforce, occupational exposure banding, big data, and sensor technologies, as well as communicating IH concepts. To better serve our members, the key delivery methods for these content priorities will be webinars, online courses, PDCs, and guidance documents.  Protecting worker health is a great responsibility, and that is why AIHA is committed to providing IH professionals with the cutting-edge information and training they need to do their best work. Through a variety of formats—including face-to-face courses, online instruction, eLibrary subscriptions, AIHce OnDemand, and frameworks—AIHA strives to put IHs in control of their professional development. For more information on these products, explore the AIHA University section of the new AIHA website.