May 4, 2023

A Message from Donna Heidel

Dear AIHA Member,

As my term as president of the AIHA Board of Directors ends, I want to take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments we’ve achieved together during my tenure.

First, I’m delighted that AIHA and ACGIH have explored partnership opportunities over the past several years. Since late 2020, we've worked together on our Defining the Science (DTS) initiative, and last year, we partnered on the Improving Exposure Judgments (IEJ) initiative. The advisory groups that oversee these programs are comprised of members from both organizations.

The DTS Advisory Group recently released the inaugural Defining the Science Research Agenda, which reflects direct input from both organizations and seeks to identify unmet research needs in occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS). I encourage you to download your copy today (PDF). If you have any research ideas, please submit them via this form. The DTS Advisory Group is now in the process of launching a communications campaign to promote awareness of and identify potential sponsors for the research ideas listed in the agenda. If you know of any organizations that are interested in becoming sponsors, please use this form to submit their names and contact information.

The IEJ Advisory Group has been working on a multi-year study to expand awareness about our various qualitative and quantitative exposure risk assessment tools. As a part of this effort, the IEJ Advisory Group created and launched a new free webinar course on statistics that prepares professionals to sit for the Exposure Decision Analyst (EDA) registry exam. I encourage you to check out these resources.

AIHA and ACGIH also have an exclusive benefit for members of both organizations: ACGIH is now offering a limited-time discount on their Basics in Industrial Ventilation on-demand course, and AIHA is reciprocating by offering a discount on the Certified Industrial Hygienist Exam Crash Course.

Furthermore, AIHA reached a significant milestone in its Standards of Care (SOC) initiative earlier this year. Under the auspices of the AIHA Guideline Foundation, we issued the first edition of our guidance document, Standards of Care for the Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety Profession (PDF). This document informs OEHS professionals of best-in-class practices that go beyond regulatory compliance and enhance protection for workers and communities from unacceptable risks. It lists risk-critical practices related to exposure assessment within specific OEHS processes or programs and indicates whether these practices meet the minimum expected level of performance (that is, the standards of care) or may be considered best practices. Finally, the guidance document directs readers to sources of related information. The current scope of the SOC is limited to exposure assessment strategies, and a subteam of the Exposure Assessment Strategies Committee contributed to the guidance document’s creation. The next edition will build on exposure assessment and include hearing loss prevention protocols.

If you’re attending AIHce EXP 2023, I encourage you to participate in at least one of these three town hall meetings: the Defining the Science Open Forum, the Joint AIHA/ACGIH Improving Exposure Judgments Initiative Open Forum, and the Standards of Care/State of the Art vs. Practice Forum. These forums will discuss the initiatives’ progress to date, as well as next steps and ways to get engaged. Don't hesitate to get in touch with Michele Twilley ([email protected]) for more information.

I also want to highlight the remarkable progress of the Thermal Stress Working Group, which launched last year. The Thermal Stress Working Group benefits from the collective efforts of its members, who represent allied organizations such as OSHA, NIOSH, and ACGIH, in addition to AIHA. This working group continues progressing on a "next generation" heat stress app that will integrate wetbulb globe temperature and solar radiation and expand the working group’s capabilities in the field.

I’m pleased to inform you that AIHA membership retention has remained healthy over the past few years. In fact, we’ve hit an all-time high for new members this year: as of April 2023, we had welcomed 926 new members. Introducing our organizational membership option has generated great enthusiasm among organizations that recognize the benefits of bulk membership for their OEHS staff. Currently, 62 organizations have enrolled, representing 560 individual members. I attribute this increase to a handful of factors: steady progress toward and achievement of many of AIHA's strategic goals, new consumer resources and knowledge products, and public relations efforts that raise overall awareness of the profession.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also opened up opportunities for AIHA to demonstrate our profession's critical role in mitigating risk from airborne disease transmission. Our continued work with CDC and NIOSH has enabled us to create a suite of free materials to help distill the complexities of OEHS into terms that small business owners can understand and use to protect workers.

Finally, I invite you to read my column in the May issue of The Synergist, in which I reflect on other achievements over the past year.

Thank you again for your commitment to AIHA and our shared mission. It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve as your president. I’m looking forward to seeing you at AIHce EXP 2023 in Phoenix.

Best regards,
Donna Heidel, MS, CIH, FAIHA
AIHA President, 2022–2023

P.S. If you can’t make it to Phoenix to attend the conference in person, please consider joining us virtually.