DONNA S. HEIDEL, CIH, FAIHA, is principal industrial hygienist at Amazon.
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Sustained Success
As I enter my final month as AIHA president, I’d like to not only recognize our accomplishments over the past year but also to look ahead in anticipation of successes to come. For this reason, the accomplishments mentioned below are organized according to the five domains of our strategic plan, which sets our course for the future.
ADVANCEMENT AND DISSEMINATION OF KNOWLEDGE Over the past year, we’ve published new Frameworks—publications that identify the skills and knowledge necessary for success in a particular specialty—for the SDS and Label Authoring Registry; the role of anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control, and confirmation (ARECC) in occupational exposure assessment; and the role of the OEHS professional in continuity planning. You will find these documents on AIHA's website.
Other accomplishments in this domain are the creation of our Thermal Stress Working Group; the launch of our public academic portal, where resources (many free) are available on topics normally not taught in academic programs; and the AIHA Business Case Tool, which helps OEHS professionals justify the financial impact of a workplace health and safety program.
INTEGRITY OF PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE Key successes in this domain include recent publication of our inaugural research agenda; publication of our first standards of care, for occupational exposure assessment; the launch of a survey that will help identify gaps between current and state-of-the-art practices in airborne chemical exposure assessment; and a well-received webinar on statistical analysis tools undertaken for improving exposure judgments.
Other achievements include the launch of a pilot proficiency analytical testing program for gravimetric determination of particulate matter and official recognition that AIHA LAP’s Food Laboratory Accreditation Program can accredit laboratories under the Food and Drug Administration’s final rule on laboratory accreditation for analyses of foods.
Our accomplishments are even more impressive given the ongoing pandemic, during which our profession has been tested as never before.
COMMUNITY Our signature achievements in this domain include an embrace of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As recommended by an outside consultant, we now ask potential candidates for the Board to specify how they have advanced DEI in their own careers, and we’ve acknowledged that good candidates can develop their leadership potential in multiple ways other than working on AIHA committees. And our new PR(IH)DE Special Interest Group is providing mentorship and support for OEHS professionals who belong to the LGBTQ+ community and advocating for their safety and well-being in the workplace. AWARENESS The grants we received through CDC are helping us communicate how the OEHS profession can assist business in safeguarding operations from COVID and future pandemics. We launched commit2care.org, a web portal that houses a wealth of free resources designed for smaller businesses who may lack in-house expertise. Over the past several months, additional funding is enabling us to develop knowledge products on vaccines and employee testing protocols, in-room air cleaners, and germicidal ultraviolet technology. The final planned project entails a new e-book based on our Back to Work Safely guidance documents that will reflect updated recommendations for protecting workers from any airborne-transmitted disease. ADVOCACY AIHA is committed to engaging at all levels of government. We’ve expressed support for state bills that would protect workers from heat stress; responded to EPA’s request for information about reducing disease transmission in buildings through improvements in IAQ; and submitted comments to OSHA on potential changes to the agency’s standard for process safety management and the blood lead levels that trigger medical removal of workers. Also, in February, AIHA CEO Larry Sloan attended a meeting at the White House during which participants discussed the federal government’s efforts to achieve cleaner indoor air across the U.S., and particularly in schools. FUTURE SUCCESS This article barely scratches the surface of what we’ve achieved. Our accomplishments are even more impressive given the ongoing pandemic, during which our profession has been tested as never before. Despite significant challenges, we’ve set up AIHA for sustained success. I look forward to achieving it with you.