August 30, 2019 / Dina M. Siegel

Preparing for the Future: AIHA’s 2019 Environmental Scan

Earlier this year, AIHA conducted a comprehensive environmental scan of the industrial hygiene profession. But what is an “environmental scan,” and what does it mean for us as industrial hygienists?

In order to be successful, any association must first understand the forces impacting the future of the profession it represents. This is where the environmental scan comes into play. A professional environmental scan helps us understand the context in which AIHA and its members operate. It allows AIHA to more accurately predict and prepare for future challenges and opportunities, and to address the needs of our members.

Of the 8,092 AIHA members and nonmember IHs invited to participate in this survey, 916 replied. Eighty-seven percent of the participants were AIHA members.

The 2019 environmental scan had three goals:

  • identify current and future trends;
  • determine whether the content priorities identified and agreed upon by AIHA members in 2013 remain relevant to the professionals in the field; and
  • uncover what new trends and developments are on the horizon.

Key findings of the 2019 environmental scan include:

  • The aging workforce and lack of young people entering the field remains a top challenge for the field of IH, followed by advancement in technology and lack of clear definition between IH and other disciplines.
  • When it comes to AIHA’s efforts in identifying and responding to these challenges, 51 percent say that AIHA is somewhat effective in addressing the issue of an aging workforce; 42 percent of the participants believe that AIHA has been very effective in addressing advancements in technology; and 49 percent think that AIHA is somewhat effective in addressing the issue of lack of definition between IH and other disciplines.
  • On the subject of current content priorities, “business case,” “changing workforce,” and “total worker exposure” claim the top three spots. Forty percent of the participants say that AIHA is somewhat successful in providing content for business case development and total worker exposure, and 44 percent believe the same for the changing workforce.
  • Forty-three percent of participants see “business case: promoting the value of IH professionals” as the most valuable topic, compared with 38 percent who see more value in sensor technologies. Thirty-seven percent voted for total worker exposure as more valuable.
  • Another interesting finding highlighted by the report is the preferred learning formats for most of the participants: webinars and online courses, followed closely by professional development courses and guidance documents.

It is important to note that most of the participants would like AIHA to focus its efforts on creating new content around emerging issues. AIHA sees the environmental scan as an opportunity to consider new content for AIHA products.

So where do we go from here?

AIHA will continue to provide content for total worker exposure, changing workforce, occupational exposure banding, big data, and sensor technologies, as well as for communicating IH concepts. To better serve our members, the key delivery methods for these content priorities will be webinars, online courses, PDCs, and guidance documents.

Protecting worker health is a great responsibility, and that is why AIHA is committed to providing IH professionals with the cutting-edge information and training they need to do their best work. Through a variety of formats—including face-to-face courses, online instruction, eLibrary subscriptions, AIHce OnDemand, and Frameworks—AIHA strives to put IHs in control of their professional development.

Dina M. Siegel

Dina M. Siegel, CIH, CSP, CBSP, FAIHA, is secretary of AIHA’s Board of Directors.


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