December 19, 2023 / Larry Sloan

Taking Stock of 2023

Year-end retrospectives are always both fun and challenging: fun because there is no shortage of accomplishments to discuss, and challenging because I don’t want to leave anything out. Here, in no particular order, are ten of our most impressive achievements from 2023:

Difference-making projects funded by CDC grants. To recap, since 2021 AIHA has received three tranches of funding from CDC to help protect workers and the public from infectious diseases. The most recent grant has helped sustain the momentum behind Commit to C.A.R.E. (community, awareness, responsibility, and equity), an initiative that communicates scientifically accurate information about infectious diseases in non-technical language to the public. We have also been recruiting organizations to lend their name and logo and take the pledge to protect their workers and communities. Commit to C.A.R.E. has now garnered more than 35 partners. We continue to update the website with new material, including a soon-to-be-released eBook, Healthier Workplaces and Schools, which is based on the original Back to Work Safely guidance that our volunteers developed in 2020.

The new IAQ Task Force. This volunteer group will help us strengthen relations with ASHRAE, which has long been among the most influential organizations addressing indoor air quality. The task force will help ensure that ASHRAE is fully informed about the perspectives of OEHS professionals on various IAQ issues. This multi-disciplinary group also serves as a clearinghouse for the various activities led by multiple AIHA volunteer groups that address IAQ to ensure harmonization of approach.

The new TSCA Task Force. As required by 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act, EPA routinely requests data on workplace exposures for its risk assessments, but these data aren’t necessarily representative of all the exposures of interest to the agency. This volunteer group will help us coalesce with industry trade associations in educating EPA staff about how to conduct occupational exposure risk assessments that are aligned with established and proven IH practices.

The national OEHS research agenda. As part of the AIHA/ACGIH Defining the Science initiative, we developed a research agenda with two main goals: to make research more useful to practitioners by helping researchers understand workplace needs, and to increase awareness among practitioners of existing research that can be readily applied. A communications plan for spreading the word about the research agenda is under way to multiple stakeholder groups including R&D labs, academia, and NIOSH Centers of Excellence and NORA councils.

Study of airborne chemical exposure assessments. Undertaken as part of our State of the Art vs. State of the Practice initiative, this study involved a survey of practitioners to help us understand the extent to which best practices in exposure assessment have been adopted. The report is available on the AIHA website. Highlights from the survey and a discussion of its main findings are forthcoming in the January issue of The Synergist.

Inaugural release of our Principles of Good Practice (PGP). Formerly known as standards of care, PGP entail recommended practices and performance established for a particular profession or function. The goal of PGP is to elevate all OEHS programs across the board. The latest edition of PGP, which references the domain of occupational exposure assessments, is available on the AIHA website (PDF).

Launch of the Academic Portal. The AIHA website features a robust repository of free resources of use to academic faculty and students on topics that are normally not covered in school. These resources include access to a free introductory-level course on industrial hygiene statistics.

A successful conference in Phoenix. The final conference under the AIHce name had strong turnout and received high marks from attendees, evidence that we have fully rebounded from the effects of the pandemic. The Board of Directors and staff are excited about the launch of the AIHA Connect brand with next year’s conference in Columbus, Ohio. We will continue to offer a hybrid conference that offers the traditional in-person experience as well as a robust virtual program for those unable to travel.

OEHS pipeline development plan. Recent research is informing our efforts to attract more people to the IH profession, particularly STEM students and EHS technicians. We are reaching out to secondary school science teachers, university professors, and others to help them understand how AIHA resources such as our Outreach Center, OEHS Careers website, and Career Mapping Toolkit can help educate students and allied practitioners about the profession. Related to this, we have recently launched the EHS Network Subscription to appeal specifically to EHS generalists who are being tasked with IH responsibilities as a part of their job.

Development of a heat stress app. Proposed by the Thermal Stress Working Group, this project aims to assist employers and outdoor workers by calculating heat stress based on the concept of wet bulb globe temperature. This is the first app undertaken on behalf of the association, and we are proud to collaborate with East Carolina University, which has created the algorithm that will power the app. We expect a beta version to be available on both iOS and Android platforms by June 2024.

To all SynergistNOW readers, thank you for your interest in protecting worker health, and best wishes for the holidays! I look forward to sharing details about our progress with you in the new year.

Larry Sloan

Larry Sloan, CAE, is AIHA's CEO.


There are no submissions.

Add a Comment