JOHN MULHAUSEN, PhD, CIH, CSP, FAIHA, retired in 2018 from 3M where he worked for 31 years in a variety of global health and safety risk management roles, most recently as director of corporate safety and industrial hygiene. Send feedback to The Synergist.
Our New Strategic Plan
This summer, the Board of Directors approved AIHA’s strategic plan for the years 2022–2024. While similar to the current plan for 2019–2021, the new plan also has some key differences, which I’ll briefly describe. The main difference, though, doesn’t concern the plan’s details—it concerns you.
For the first time, AIHA is publicizing our strategic plan throughout the association. Our intent is for everyone in AIHA to become familiar with our organization’s overarching vision, values, and objectives. You can find the new plan on AIHA's website (PDF).
A LIVING DOCUMENT I suspect the general perception of strategic plans is that they’re dry, largely ceremonial documents with little relation to the real world. On the contrary, AIHA’s strategic plan is a living document with practical implications.
Like AIHA’s current strategic plan, the new plan is built around five “domains,” or areas of focus. These domains are community, awareness, advancement and dissemination of knowledge, integrity of professional practice, and advocacy. Both plans incorporate AIHA’s associated business entities: the AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs LLC, AIHA Registry Programs LLC, AIHA Proficiency Analytical Testing Programs LLC, the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation, the AIHA Guideline Foundation, and the Product Stewardship Society. Both plans also identify strategic goals within each domain and the strategies AIHA will employ to meet those goals.
So, what’s different?
First, our mission statement has been broadened to highlight our profession’s role in protecting communities as well as workers from a variety of hazards. It now reads, with emphasis on the new language, “Empowering and advancing those who apply scientific knowledge to protect all workers and their communities from occupational and environmental hazards.” We’ve made a similar change to our vision statement, which conveys the organization’s aspirations: “A world where all workers and their communities are healthy and safe.”
AIHA’s strategic plan is a living document with practical implications.
Second, we’ve added a value proposition to the strategic plan. This statement is a short description of AIHA that members can use when speaking with the press or to others who aren’t familiar with our organization. The value proposition reads, “AIHA members are scientists and professionals who protect the health and safety of workers and communities by reducing risks and safeguarding operations to help organizations operate efficiently and without interruption.” What’s most notable about this statement is its explanation of our profession’s importance not only to workers and communities but businesses, too. By keeping workers healthy and safe, we allow business operations to proceed uninterrupted, thereby joining the interests of employees with those of employers for mutual benefit.
Finally, many of the new plan’s objectives seek to establish long-term improvements in OEHS practice that directly improve the protection of workers and communities.
ADVANCING OEHS PRACTICE AIHA’s new strategic plan challenges our organization to focus on helping OEHS professionals become more effective and efficient. By advancing OEHS practice, we will improve working conditions for the benefit of workers, communities, and employers.
One of our goals is to put in place a process for periodically reviewing the current state of OEHS practice, comparing it to the state of the art (best in class), and implementing a continuous improvement strategy to close gaps between the two.
Another goal is to create a research agenda for the profession that connects OEHS researchers and funders of research with the needs of practitioners who are trying to solve problems on the shop floor.
To increase awareness of the new strategic plan, AIHA launched a communications campaign that includes monthly posts to the SynergistNOW blog by AIHA CEO Larry Sloan. In addition, a special insert about the plan will be included in the January 2022 issue of The Synergist. I encourage you to become familiar with the plan and share your feedback with me.