October 4, 2022 / Mike Ierardi

Introducing AIHA’s New LGBTQ+ Special Interest Group, PR(IH)DE

Over the past several years, occupational and environmental health and safety professionals have seen heightened emphasis on, creation of, and expansion to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the workforces we serve. These programs reinforce cultures of psychological safety among workers who increasingly come from diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences. As we incorporate DEI into OEHS practice, we must also strive to incorporate DEI into our professional community in order to draw fully from our own collective set of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences. Embracing and applying these differences enables us to collaborate on and learn innovative, personalized ways of managing occupational hazards for diverse workforces. Therefore, I’m excited to announce that, at the July 2022 meeting, the AIHA Board of Directors unanimously voted to support the formation of the LGBTQ+ Special Interest Group, called PR(IH)DE.

As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve become increasingly interested in exploring how I can apply my OEHS training and skillsets to promote the health and safety of LGBTQ+ workers. I’ve realized, however, that it’s extremely difficult to discern the network of OEHS professionals who also belong to this community or are interested in protecting workers who do. I’ve also found that research is scarce on how occupational hazards might disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ workers. Additionally, LGBTQ+ AIHA members face ongoing hurdles in their own OEHS professions.

Collectively, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share, but I was unsure of how to address these issues until I attended this year’s AIHce EXP in Nashville. I was invigorated by the sense of community and belonging that I felt as I took my seat at the Opening General Session, surrounded by people, many familiar and others new, who shared a common interest. I wanted to strengthen this sense of community and belonging even further by creating a forum for LGBTQ+ OEHS professionals to gather and share dialogue and ideas.

One of the main goals of PR(IH)DE, therefore, is to unify and make visible OEHS professionals who identify as LGBTQ+ and their allies so that they can support and learn from one another. Through this newfound collaboration, we intend to advocate for the advancement of research related to the health, safety, and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace, with an emphasis on improving and safeguarding their psychological health and safety. In addition, the formation of this group advances overall DEI aims in AIHA and among its membership by lending prominence to a community of professionals whose experiences have been previously overlooked. We look forward to engaging with existing AIHA volunteer groups and other allied organizations and capitalizing on potential opportunities for collaboration to achieve these goals.

Bradley King, the current secretary of the AIHA Board, will serve as PR(IH)DE’s Board liaison, and I will serve as the inaugural chair. We’re actively looking for new members who are ready to brainstorm exciting ideas for this upcoming year, so if you’re interested in getting involved, please review our call for members and fill out the submission form. Please note that membership is only open to current AIHA members. We look forward to hearing from you!

Mike Ierardi

Mike Ierardi is a senior supervising health scientist and regional unit manager with Stantec’s ChemRisk group, based in Brooklyn, New York. In his work, he routinely provides on-site industrial hygiene support and sampling, conducts numerous exposure assessments and dose reconstructions for a variety of chemicals, and assists clients with risk management and risk communication strategies.


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