November 12, 2019 / Ina Xhani

Industrial Hygiene and Product Stewardship: An Intertwined Future

Earlier this year, AIHA’s Stewardship and Sustainability Committee sponsored production of an educational video on industrial hygiene and product stewardship. The video encourages IHs to expand their focus to include product stewardship and sustainability, for a greater impact on their communities, as well as to elevate their profession.

I spoke with Paul Harper, member of the Stewardship and Sustainability Community, to find out what inspired the committee to produce the video and why IH and product stewardship go hand in hand.

Tell me a little about AIHA’s Stewardship and Sustainability Committee.

The Stewardship and Sustainability Committee is one of AIHA's longest-standing committees and has actively promoted the application of IH principles and science in the areas of product stewardship and sustainability. These areas are important enough in our field that the 2013 AIHce EXP meeting in Montreal highlighted a stewardship and sustainability program track. The committee remains a very active and vibrant team contributing to the body of knowledge and practice in these business-critical areas.

Earlier this year, the volunteer group produced a video about IH and product stewardship. What inspired you to develop this video?

As the Product Stewardship Society has evolved, the committee decided it was important to reacquaint our IH community with the exciting opportunities in stewardship and sustainability within AIHA, and for engagement with our ongoing efforts that contribute to these fields. One member’s prior success with the whiteboard video as a vehicle for messaging led us to the current video. There is no greater flattery than building on prior successes!

What does product stewardship mean to an IH?

Opportunity and impact. It should mean the opportunity to apply our education, experience, and skills in areas of emerging and growing importance in both business and society and to have a positive impact on the traditional focus on worker health. By applying our mindset—to anticipate, recognize, evaluate, and control—IH can impact a wide spectrum of instances where consumers and the general public may have "exposures.”

How can product stewardship help an IH advance his or her career?

Product stewardship expands on the career options available to an industrial hygienist. The field is and has been growing in businesses globally. By definition, its focus on “product” makes the area integral to a business’ license to operate, and product stewardship has become an increasingly enterprise-critical functionality in companies. With that comes a need for smart and talented individuals with the appropriate educational and experiential backgrounds to carry out the function’s mission. You need look no further than the emerging professional certification in product stewardship, championed by the Product Stewardship Society, to understand the importance and growth in this function.

If an IH is looking to get into product stewardship, what would you advise?

The Stewardship and Sustainability Committee should be their first stop. Comprising IH practitioners at all stages of their careers, the committee offers resources and opportunities to learn, contribute, and grow to help IHs fulfill their career ambitions.

For more on the connections between product stewardship and industrial hygiene, see the September issue of The Synergist.

Ina Xhani

Ina Xhani is AIHA’s communications specialist.


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