Updates to the Code of Ethics
Earlier this year, the American Board of Industrial Hygiene announced the creation of a new, high-level umbrella organization called the Board for Global EHS Credentialing, or BGC, to more accurately reflect its enhanced credential offerings. BGC credentials include the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH); the Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) and Environmental Professional In-Training (EPI) adopted from the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice (IPEP); and the Certified Professional Product Steward (CPPS), currently in development.

A key part of establishing this new structure is to unify the existing codes of ethics for the individual credentials. The unified code is now available (PDF). For CIHs, QEPs, and EPIs, the unified code will become effective on July 1, 2020, replacing the existing codes for those professionals. For CPPSs, who did not previously have a code of ethics, the unified code is effective immediately.
CIHs will see much that they recognize in the new unified code since the core elements were drawn from the existing ABIH code. Over the years, the ABIH code was developed based on real-world issues, both legal and professional. This update focused on ensuring that each requirement is measurable and represents an essential expectation of our credentialed professionals.
CIHs will see much that they recognize in the new unified code since the core elements were drawn from the existing ABIH code.
ALAN LEIBOWITZ, CIH, CSP, FAIHA, is the president of EHS Systems Solutions LLC, a member of the Joint Industrial Hygiene Ethics Education Committee, a current ABIH Board member, and a past Board member of AIHA.
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KEY CHANGES The introductory section to the new unified code clarifies that it applies to all existing and upcoming BGC credentials. In the preamble, language has been added to clarify that compliance with the code is required “in order to retain” all recognized BGC credentials. The section of the unified code that identifies responsibilities to clients, employers, employees, and the public has a few changes that CIHs should note. The ABIH code included an obligation for CIHs to “make a reasonable effort to provide appropriate professional referrals when [they are] unable to provide competent professional assistance.” In the new unified code, this obligation has been removed. CIHs may continue to provide referrals, but the main obligation is to conduct only those industrial hygiene-related activities that an individual CIH is qualified to perform. The unified code also addresses potential new signifiers of certification such as electronic badging. BGC is considering offering certificants these new options as technology and professional practice require. Let BGC know if you have interest in methods to acknowledge your certification beyond the currently offered rubber stamps, embossers, and certificates by emailing the organization. The unified code allows the credentialed professional to sign documents that they have “fully reviewed and approved.” CIHs will recognize a slight difference here from the existing ABIH code, which specifies that individuals who are “under [the certificant’s] direction and control” may affix or authorize the use of the CIH seal, stamp, or signature to documents that describe work to be performed for clients. The unified code emphasizes that credentialed professionals must review and approve any such authorization and clarifies that this authorization does not represent BGC’s endorsement of the work under consideration. A new responsibility concerning communication has been added to the unified code. CIHs now are obligated to “communicate clearly, to clients and/or employers, the potential consequences if professional decisions or judgments are overruled or disregarded.”   Finally, a new conclusion reinforces that the code is key to retaining credentials: “Any violation of the preceding numbered requirements may result in sanctions up to and including the suspension or removal of credentials awarded by the BGC.”
CREDENTIALING ISSUES Remember that the code applies only to credentialing issues and does not supersede any other legal or other regulatory obligations you might have. A link to the new code appears in the ABIH document library. The library also contains several other relevant documents. Please feel free to contact BGC with any comments or questions at (517) 321-2638 or via email
Introducing a Unified Code from the Board for Global EHS Credentialing