EHS Generalists: Key Allied Partners in Occupational Health
Did you know that AIHA is responsible for oversight of the ABET academic criteria not only for industrial hygiene programs, but also for environmental health and safety (EHS) programs? Such criteria must demonstrate that graduates possess the “knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to competently and ethically practice the applicable scientific, technical, and regulatory aspects of this discipline.”
AIHA is a designated co-lead for the ABET criteria, sharing this responsibility with the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), for baccalaureate and master-level programs. Earlier this year, the two organizations agreed to work collaboratively to review and update EHS program criteria. To this end, we are partnering with Shirley Parsons, a global professional services firm specializing in EHS, to conduct a two-pronged survey: one aimed at EHS academic program graduates and the other at EHS employers:
EHS program graduates. Through our survey, we hope to gain a better understanding of the schools EHS graduates attended, the credentials they seek to attain, and the roles they manage at work. Further, we would like to learn how satisfied they were with any career guidance they may have received while in school, and how relevant their education has been on the job.
EHS hiring managers. We would like to learn what skillsets managers are looking for in new hires, and what skills new hires may be lacking. In addition, we are interested in understanding the demographics for both managers and the people they hire—for example, whether they earned a formal degree in EHS, occupational health and safety, or specifically industrial hygiene. Hiring managers' preferences regarding types of degree (bachelor's or master's) and specific college programs will also be explored.
Following the survey, our plan is to convene the AIHA and ASSP teams to review the findings, and begin drafting recommendations for updating the EHS program criteria. I’d like to acknowledge members of the AIHA team: Alice Greife (chair), PhD, CIH, FAIHA, the chair; Bryan Seal; Bryce Lawlor, CSP; Dan Anna, PhD, CIH, CSP; Dianne Grote Adams, CIH, CSP, CPEA, FAIHA; Torey Nalbone, PhD, CIH, FAIHA; and John Mulhausen (Board liaison), PhD, CIH, FAIHA.
The role of the EHS generalist is vitally important to occupational health. Today companies are employing generalists who must wear multiple hats, including that of an industrial hygienist. By updating the EHS program criteria, we can help ensure the caliber of future graduates is better aligned with the needs of the workplace.
Any reader assistance in passing along the survey links to other professionals, who may be able to provide useful feedback, will be greatly appreciated.