The Delicate Topic of Elections
In my role as director of Government Relations, you’ll often hear me say that AIHA leaves politics to the politicians—in other words, that AIHA, as a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, does not become involved in election politics and doesn’t say that one political party or politician is better than another. Yet, who’s in office does matter. With this in mind, on the eve of elections that will shape our country’s history for years to come, we’re here to discuss the delicate topic of what the elections will mean for AIHA.
More than 6,000 local, state, and federal legislative, executive, and judicial positions will be on the ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 3. The result of millions of voters like you making their voices heard will send shockwaves of change rippling toward every corner of the United States and even the most remote reaches of the world. Still, as a nonpartisan organization, you may be wondering how the elections will impact AIHA and the issues we work on. The answer is that the election results will affect what will be possible in the coming years.
After the elections, both new and returning policymakers will be sworn into office, bringing with them their own unique backgrounds, experiences, beliefs, issues of interest, campaign promises to their constituents, stories, and policy goals. These elements will shape the types of problems they will prioritize and what policy solutions they will be most likely to support.
Election season is a time for AIHA members to evaluate the policymakers on the ballot in preparation for approaching them once in office (or back in office), with the intent of helping them understand why supporting the OEHS profession and protecting worker health and safety are issues worthy of their attention. Regardless of any one member’s individual political leanings, AIHA members are unified by their steadfast reliance on and support for sound science, and have a role in bringing policymakers on board with scientifically supported programs and policies. Members may do this by educating policymakers on how their interests align with OEHS—much of AIHA’s political outreach focuses on identifying policymakers’ goals and coordinating those goals with relevant OEHS problems and solutions.
AIHA and its members are a powerful force for worker health and safety. We can extend the organization’s reach by educating policymakers about OEHS and working with them to draft and enact OEHS-related legislation, regulations, and educational outreach to workers, employers, the next generation of OEHS students, and the public. Some successful recent examples of this in practice are AIHA’s many Back to Work Safely guidance documents.
The free, industry-specific Back to Work Safely documents have been referred to by CDC, OSHA, state governments, nonprofit organizations, and businesses as the economy reopens during the COVID-19 pandemic. AIHA and its members have been focused on getting these documents into the hands of as many government leaders, school officials, business owners, and workers as possible. As testament to members’ efforts, the documents have been downloaded from the Back to Work Safely website more than 1 million times.
The Back to Work Safely education and outreach campaign has also dramatically increased the visibility of OEHS professionals and promoted the value of the work that AIHA members like you provide to businesses and communities. Many AIHA members have been interviewed and quoted in publications in connection to the guidance documents. Members may be rightly proud of successes such as these and should keep them in mind as they look forward to the future possibilities of their work with policymakers after the election.
No matter what happens after Nov. 3, you can count on AIHA remaining a steady force, true to our mission of empowering professionals who protect workers from occupational hazards through the application of scientific knowledge, and pursuing our vision of a world where all workers are healthy and safe.
If you’d like to join AIHA’s Back to Work Safely education and outreach campaign, please email me, and I’ll send you an email that contains a welcoming message from AIHA’s CEO, Larry Sloan, as well as useful outreach tools and tips.
Thanks, Mark, for the profound statement. There's othing like a good anchor to steady a boat in turbulent waves.By Laurence Svirchev, CIH on October 23, 2020 12:55am