September 14, 2021 / Mark Ames

Learn, Connect, Act: How You Can Make a Difference in Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

You may have seen on the news or know someone who’s been affected by one of the many recent natural disasters and wondered how AIHA can help workers, families, and communities in their time of great need. As a leader in OEHS dedicated to protecting workers and their communities, AIHA has developed a large library of resources. A landing page for many of these is our Disaster Response Resource Center. There, you’ll find links to useful recovery resources for hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, mold, and wildfires. Each set of incident-specific resources provides essential information and links for protecting workers, businesses, communities, and even yourself. For instance, our Hurricane Recovery page provides an overview of potential hazards that may be encountered at homes or businesses and how to prepare for them, respond when they occur, and recover from these events.

If you’re looking to enhance your knowledge of emergency preparedness and response, then check out AIHA University, which features an attractive new user interface, making it even easier to access our courses and other publications delivered by experts in the field.

We know you’re action oriented. You don’t wait for progress; you help drive it. Make a difference today by responding to AIHA’s latest action alert. Send a message to your state policymakers urging them to do two things: secure a seat at the table for OEHS professionals on key disaster preparedness, response, cleanup, and recovery committees, councils, and incident management systems; and support funding for disaster preparedness and recovery.

Public policymakers can be unaware that OEHS professionals serve many roles in disasters: they anticipate, identify, control, and monitor hazards, select appropriate personal protective equipment, provide training, and serve as key advisors to businesses, governments, and volunteer organizations active in disasters. You can help change the status quo by adding your voice to a growing chorus of advocates calling on policymakers to update the rules and provide additional resources to welcome more science into disaster preparedness, response, cleanup, and recovery. Together, we can protect more workers and their communities. Take action now.

When you send a message to your policymakers, make sure you request a meeting. Years of research has consistently shown that constituent meetings—whether in person, by phone, or online—are the most effective form of advocacy. We’ve included a meeting request in the model message to policymakers we’ve prepared for you on our Grassroots Advocacy Center.

A lot goes into an effective meeting with a policymaker, which is why AIHA is creating an advocate training program that will debut in 2022. Until then, here are a few key tips for holding an outstanding meeting:

  • Do a bit of research on the official you're meeting with. This information is available under the “My Officials” tab at the top of the page on AIHA's Grassroots Advocacy Center (clicking on the tab will prompt you to log in or sign up). If you're meeting with a member of the policymaker’s staff, try looking on LinkedIn to get a sense of the person’s background. The goal of this exercise is to identify the person's interests and motivations, which you'll then weave into your meeting and call to action.
  • Provide a brief explanation of AIHA and yourself. You might find the text on our “About Us” page useful: "AIHA is the association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) in the workplace and community. Founded in 1939, we support our members with our expertise, networks, comprehensive education programs, and other products and services that help them maintain the highest professional and competency standards. More than half of AIHA's nearly 8,500 members are Certified Industrial Hygienists, and many hold other professional designations. AIHA serves as a resource for those employed across the public and private sectors and the communities in which they work."
  • Refrain from mentioning campaign politics. (AIHA leaves the politics to the politicians—we're a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on protecting workers and their communities.)
  • Seek to genuinely enjoy the experience.
  • Write up brief notes after your meeting. (If you'd share them with me, I'd greatly appreciate it. You can also log your interactions with policymakers on our Grassroots Advocacy Center under the “Your Relationships with Policymakers” tab.)
  • After the meeting, send a short email to thank the person you met with for his or her time, provide additional information on any topics that came up, and reiterate your request.

Whether you’d like to learn, network by joining a volunteer group, help shape public policy by connecting with policymakers, or all three, AIHA has the resources you need to take action today, wherever you are. Feel free to email me to set up a time to chat about government relations.

Mark Ames

Mark Ames is AIHA’s director of government relations


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