Progress in International Collaboration

In 2018, AIHA was honored to host the International Occupational Hygiene Association’s International Scientific Conference in Washington, D.C., the first time the event was held in the United States. The opportunity to establish closer ties with occupational hygienists from around the world encouraged the AIHA Board of Directors to reexamine our strategy for international engagement. You can read about the strategy in the March 2019 Synergist. This month, I’ll provide an update on progress toward our goals for international engagement: developing professionals, fostering community, and increasing awareness of occupational health and safety.

DEVELOPING PROFESSIONALS AIHA continues to collaborate effectively with sister organizations in other countries. For example, AMHI, the Mexican Industrial Hygiene Association, is translating into Spanish the first module of AIHA’s 2019 virtual conference on exposure assessment strategies. We’re also in discussions with Chinese representatives to translate the fourth edition of A Strategy for Assessing and Managing Occupational Exposures. The two occupational hygiene organizations in Colombia, SCHO and ACHO, have expressed interest in having Certified Industrial Hygienists who live in the country teach 500-level courses from the Occupational Hygiene Training Association. And next month, I’m heading to Delhi to deliver the keynote address at the Central Industrial Hygiene Association’s annual meeting and to promote the value of the CIH credential on behalf of ABIH. These efforts help enhance the existing base of OH technicians and create new OH professionals.
AIHA continues to collaborate effectively with sister organizations in other countries. 
KATHLEEN S. MURPHY, CIH, is AIHA president and director of Global Regulatory Affairs at Sherwin Williams in Cleveland, Ohio.

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To fund training in other countries, AIHA launched our micro-grants program in 2019. Managed by the International Affairs Committee, the program awarded $20,000 in grants to five recipients. We’ve budgeted $25,000 for 2020. FOSTERING COMMUNITY Last year, AIHA introduced a new Virtual Section and a companion Virtual Section en Español to serve areas that don’t have local sections. To promote membership in these new communities, we offered discounted access to members of our sister organizations. As of September 2019, CIHA had recruited 21 members in India and SCHO an additional 18 members in Colombia.  Early returns are positive regarding our efforts to increase international membership following passage of a bylaws amendment in 2018 that expanded the definition of “international member.” Our international membership rose more than 30 percent from 110 in 2017 to 145 through the first nine months of 2019.  Also to support membership recruitment, this year AIHA representatives will attend the Pan American occupational hygiene conference and the 2020 CIHA conference. In addition, we’re taking advantage of the travel required for staff of the AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, LLC, who recently attended a meeting in Colombia and discussed ways AIHA can support occupational hygienists there.  INCREASING OHS AWARENESS Making the general public aware of occupational health and safety may not yield immediate measurable returns, but it’s necessary to grow the profession and lay the foundation for protecting future workers. Our strategy calls for AIHA to work through IOHA to influence activities in organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the International Labor Organization. We’re also leveraging our involvement in the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability to promote AIHA’s mission where appropriate. Another way to increase awareness is through AIHA’s Standards Advisory Panel, which identifies opportunities for AIHA to play a role in international standards. Currently, AIHA has a representative on the committee that developed the ISO 45001 standard for occupational health and safety management systems. We’re also exploring the possibility of participating in the ISO 45003 standard on psycho-social health. A BETTER FUTURE The vital importance of engaging with our counterparts in other countries is what motivated the Board to revisit AIHA’s international strategy in 2018. So far, thanks to the International Affairs Committee and the International Advisory Group's efforts to refine our strategy and select targeted opportunities, we’re making measurable progress toward a future where workers around the world have similar protections.