The success of OEHS as a profession depends on cutting-edge research, training, and practical application—elements of a self-improving, evolving system. The members of our two organizations are OEHS professionals and academics who identify gaps both in research and the ways practitioners implement health and safety in the workplace. With the ever-increasing pace of new materials being introduced into commerce, identification of those workers producing and utilizing these materials provides an opportunity for research on exposures and outcomes that can help provide the technical basis for health protection programs.
Historically, AIHA has lacked a defined process for helping researchers investigate areas of concern identified by members and allied stakeholders and supporting the incorporation of research results into everyday practice. To this end, the association seeks to define and manage a standing OEHS research-to-practice agenda. Through this agenda, we can help inform and guide practitioners, academics, third-party research organizations, and AIHA volunteer groups toward engagement with critical research topics. Subsequently, AIHA will be able to facilitate the partnerships necessary to accomplish the agenda’s goals. We can then play a more integral role in preparing students to conduct research on these essential topics and practitioners to integrate new findings into their workplace procedures.
The task of managing a research agenda falls to a new volunteer group, the Defining the Science Advisory Group (DTS-AG), whose mission is to develop and maintain a national OEHS research agenda endorsed by the AIHA Board of Directors. The DTS-AG is a collaborative venture between AIHA and ACGIH and includes representatives from both organizations.
The advisory group is tasked with addressing such matters as:
- Identifying areas of practice that do not hold up to current OEHS scientific findings so that AIHA, ACGIH, and other stakeholders may improve practice through focused outreach, promotion, and training
- Identifying research initiatives needed to advance the state of OEHS science and address gaps in practical knowledge
- Identifying opportunities to answer OEHS research questions through studies of at-risk workers
- Defining a transparent, open process across volunteer groups, local sections, and allied stakeholders as to how we might create and sustain a living research agenda on behalf of the profession and how project ideas may be prioritized for future funding
- Advising the AIHA Board and staff on where it should focus its internal resources to advance the state of OEHS research
- Defining AIHA’s role as a facilitator for OEHS science research—both for funded research opportunities that come our way and as a “bundler” of partners, needs, and ideas to be brought before funding organizations
- Determining how AIHA might better leverage its volunteer representatives recently appointed to NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Councils. NORA is an important source of funding for research and training and helps inform NIOSH’s strategic plan.
John R. Mulhausen, PhD, CIH, FAIHA - AIHA Member, Anthony Oliveri, PhD, MPH - AIHA Member, Paul F. Wambach, CIH - AIHA Member, Cullen Charles Whittaker, CIH, CSP - AIHA Member, Donald M. Weekes, CIH, CSP, FAIHA - AIHA Member, Gary Spies, CIH, CSP - ACGIH Member, Alison Elder, PhD - ACGIH Member, Paul Middendorf - NIOSH Rep, Emily Novicki - NIOSH Rep, Kimberly M. Castillon, CIH - AIHA Board Liaison, Lawrence Sloan, CAE - AIHA Staff Liaison
Overview of the Process
Input from AIHA and ACGIH committees, and other interested parties, is submitted using the web submission form link below. The DTS-AG reviews and scores each research question/problem based on the weighted score, aggregated across the criteria noted below. Projects earning a higher score preferentially place on the AIHA research-to-practice agenda and this agenda will serve as a basis for input to NIOSH. Additionally, potential research partners are identified via an RFP process and estimated funding is assessed. Ultimately the AIHA Board reviews and approves all recommended projects.
Understand Scoring Methodology
Submitted ideas are evaluated by the DTS-AG based on a series of criteria, scored on a scale of 0-9 as follows. Each of the criteria is rated in terms of importance on a scale of 0-10. Click here for details.
Research Idea Categories
Before you submit your idea, think about whether it is something that will advance the OEHS Practice vs OEHS Profession. The following definitions should help you decide which is more relevant:
- OEHS Practice: Ideas that advance the OEHS practice and enable practitioners to conduct their work armed with the latest methods and techniques that are based on sound science-based research. This category encompasses more traditional "pure" research topics (e.g., Qualitative Judgment Accuracy, Defining Appropriate Bayesian Priors).
- OEHS Profession: Ideas that help advance our level of understanding of the profession from a more holistic perspective (e.g., understanding our role in such areas as building certification programs (LEED, Well Building certification), product stewardship, and general management/leadership -- all areas for which practitioners are increasingly being held responsible. This research will be science-based, but not necessarily based on traditional IH topics.
Next, consider the schematic below to assist you in preparing your case for either type of idea. Some ideas may not map against a particular Category (that’s OK).
To facilitate the process of idea submissions and subsequent scoring by the DTS-AG the following Scoring Round schedule has been adopted with submission deadlines as noted:
- Round 1: Ideas submitted by July 17, 2021. Click here to access a list of previously submitted ideas.
- Round 2: Between July 17 and October 15, 2021
- Round 3: Between October 16, 2021 and January 15, 2022
- Round 4: Between January 16 and April 15, 2022
- Round 5: Between April 16 and July 15, 2022
Following each round, the DTS-AG convenes to review aggregate scores and recommends prioritizations based on the criteria referenced above.