August 5, 2021 / Mark Ames

Grow Your Network and Influence with Service on Government Advisory Boards

Are you the type of person who relishes researching technical OEHS issues? Who eagerly looks forward to lively debates with their colleagues on how best to protect workers and their communities from a given hazard or set of hazards? Do you want to have an insider’s seat at the table where regulations and standards are crafted that carry the force of law, with far-reaching impact?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then let’s talk about service on government advisory boards, panels, and councils. There’s a place at the table for you, just as there was for AIHA member Scott Schneider.

Recently, Scott was selected to serve as AIHA’s representative on Virginia’s Heat Illness Prevention Regulatory Advisory Panel (RAP). This is an exceptional opportunity, as it provides Scott and AIHA with the ability to help craft the state’s standard on occupational exposure to heat stress. AIHA will also have the opportunity to provide comments on the draft standard once it’s published.

Service on the RAP is no small thing. The RAP will meet several times, with each meeting lasting up to a full day. There’s anticipated to be reading and analysis between each meeting, and panelists should be well-versed in occupational heat illness, actions that can be taken to prevent it, how to respond should an incident occur, and the various roles of employers, workers, and government. It also helps a great deal if they are familiar with related past, current, or likely actions taken by other states or the federal government on occupational heat illness prevention. Additionally, RAP members should be prepared to discuss their recommendations with their fellow panelists, some of whom may have vastly different views about appropriate government interventions, with the goal of reaching a level of consensus that will be key to helping the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry draft a new standard.

Winning one of the coveted seats on government advisory boards, panels, and councils can be as simple as sending an email and CV to a key agency contact, or an elaborate affair involving a formal letter of recommendation signed by AIHA’s president. The starting points for both are awareness and action.

Conveniently, the federal government places all information about federal advisory committees in one place: the General Services Administration’s Federal Advisory Committee Act Database. Finding an opportunity is relatively simple: click on an agency, department, or other government entity you’re interested in to unveil a list of advisory councils. From there, click on the link of the committee you want to learn more about. The page you’ll be taken to contains summary information about the purpose of the committee, how members are selected, committee reports, a link to the committee’s webpage, and the agency’s point of contact for the committee.

If you’re looking for information and opportunities on state, county, or local government advisory boards, a quick and easy solution is to search the internet for “government advisory boards” and the state, county, or locality you’d like to focus on—government advisory boards Virginia, for instance. Interestingly, searching without quotes may yield better results, depending on the search engine you’re using.

All of this takes a bit of time and effort, but the results are worth it. Serving on a government advisory board opens new opportunities to grow your network. You can play a more direct role in crafting regulations and guiding other government actions to help protect more workers and their communities from occupational and environmental hazards by applying scientific knowledge. The joy and pride of this type of volunteer service is worth every minute spent pursuing it—and AIHA is here to help make your journey easier. Email me to schedule time for a walkthrough of government advisory board service opportunities.

Are you already serving on one or more government advisory boards? Please let us know using this link. The information you provide will help us with internal planning and coordination to protect more workers and their communities. Thanks so much for your volunteerism!

Mark Ames

Mark Ames is AIHA’s director of government relations.


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