January 12, 2023 / Larry Sloan

AIHA Volunteers: Working in Concert 

Over the past several years, AIHA has seen a proliferation of new national-level advisory groups and project teams that provide the strategic guidance needed to advance the many priorities under the AIHA strategic plan. If you’ve been reading the President’s Message in The Synergist, you know what I am referring to.

Many of these initiatives have been launched in our effort to continuously improve the practice of OEHS. This goal is referenced in the “Integrity of Professional Practice” domain of our strategic plan.

Perhaps not surprisingly, we are experiencing “mission overlap” in cases where certain groups have a common purpose. Consequently, we have created new liaison roles to help ensure smooth communications and synergies. The examples below illustrate how some of our advisory groups, project teams, committees, and volunteer groups are working together.

The Defining the Science (DTS) Advisory Group and the Content Portfolio Advisory Group (CPAG). For DTS research ideas categorized as “barriers to practice,” we are relying on our volunteer groups to submit CPAG project proposals that support the creation of a new guidance document, fact sheet, video, or some other collateral asset that helps translate the research findings into information useful to the practitioner. The new R&D Officer position, which has been established in almost two dozen technical committees, serves as a conduit to help volunteer groups navigate this process. Ideas submitted to CPAG are reviewed in a timely manner, voted upon, and then passed along to the AIHA Board of Directors for ultimate approval. (Typically, the turnaround time from Board approval to project launch is four to six weeks.)

The Improving Exposure Judgments (IEJ) Advisory Group and the Academic Advisory Group. One of the IEJ group’s priorities is to offer academicians and their students access to education on topics not normally taught in school. One prime example is an introduction to AIHA’s statistical e-tools. Over the past year, we’ve created a free webinar course with more than nine hours of content that helps practitioners understand the importance of using our modeling tools to make more accurate exposure assessment decisions. This information is housed on a new academic portal, which also offers access to a variety of other resources, many of which are complementary.

The IEJ Advisory Group and the Grand Challenges Initiative. Last fall, AIHA hosted a Town Hall introducing the membership to the four Grand Challenges identified as top priorities through a comprehensive survey launched earlier in the year. One of these topics, improving exposure assessment in the workplace, dovetails nicely with the IEJ group. We are now in the process of forming working groups that will work on concept papers for each of the four themes; the IEJ Advisory Group intends to take a lead role.

The IEJ Advisory Group and the Exposure Assessment Strategies Committee (EASC). Because many of AIHA’s statistical tools were developed by EASC members, there is a natural alignment between the committee’s focus and the work of the advisory group. Widespread adoption of statistical tools will help hygienists make better decisions about exposures and their control through application of the principles outlined in A Strategy for Assessing and Managing Occupational Exposures.

The IEJ Advisory Group and the Exposure Decision Analysis (EDA) Registry. The new webinar course referenced above helps students earn their EDA credential. This program distinguishes OEHS professionals who have acquired the skills and knowledge to effectively manage workplace exposure and monitoring data. Given basic characterization and monitoring data, individuals with the “Registered Specialist: EDA” credential have the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about worker exposure and exposure uncertainty.​

The Standards of Care (SoC) Advisory Group and the IEJ Advisory Group. An SoC document is being drafted that refers to various OEHS areas of practice in a concise, easy-to-use format. The individual standards of care are published as they are developed for each area of practice and are designed to be kept “evergreen” via regular updates. One such domain is occupational exposure assessment, whose content has been driven by a sub-team of the IEJ group and the EASC.

The SoC Advisory Group and State of the Art vs. Practice. While the State of the Art vs. State of the Practice initiative does not have an advisory group, a new project was launched in late 2022 that entails the deployment of a survey that will enable us to determine the current state of IH practice and assess the barriers to achieving state-of-the-art practice. The first of these surveys is slated to launch later this quarter and will focus on occupational exposure assessment and hearing loss prevention.

The SoC Advisory Group and technical volunteer groups. EASC, the Noise Committee, and other technical committees have already stepped up to draft what they consider to be the minimum global standards of care for their respective disciplines. Other committees are being asked to consider how they can contribute their subject matter expertise to the new SoC guidelines.

The Climate Change Adaptation Body of Knowledge (CCA-BoK) Project Team and the Grand Challenges Initiative. Another of the four Grand Challenges, mitigating the impacts of climate change on workers, aligns with this BoK team. Undoubtedly, members of the BoK team will review and provide input on the work conducted by the concept paper team.

The CCA-BoK Project Team and the Thermal Stress Working Group. There are obvious synergies between the mission of this working group, including its interest in updating the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool app, and the work of the BoK team.

The Technology Initiatives Strategic Advisory Group (TI-SAG) and the Emerging Digital Technologies Committee (EDTC). Formerly known as the Computer Applications Committee, EDTC has been tasked with advancing work on topics identified by TI-SAG that can be leveraged by practitioners. These include the development of new apps and coordination between AIHA and the National Safety Council’s new Work to Zero initiative.

These are just a few examples of how AIHA’s various advisory groups and other project teams intersect with each other and with our volunteer groups. The intersections among groups are to be expected and should be encouraged to ensure that our final products reflect a harmonization of knowledge.

Larry Sloan

Larry Sloan is AIHA’s CEO.


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