In 2012, the AIHA Board of Directors approved creating a research strategy as part of the Envisioned Future initiative. This strategy would form the cornerstone of developing an organization-wide, cohesive, purposed, and prioritized program of work. With this realignment strategy, the Association could shift to a more driven focus that professionals would integrate into various organization efforts. Four dimensions to this strategy have been put into place:
- Discovery – the inclusion of a systematic, inclusive, and research-based process for identifying content needs and establishing development priorities
- Research – conducting ongoing member and market needs assessments, commissioning projects in applied research to develop tools and translate basic science, and anticipating future IH/OEHS needs through futures scanning and in-depth research
- Development – instituting an annual process to prioritize and invest in a portfolio of projects to create, revitalize, and repurpose Association knowledge
- Evaluation – guiding a continuous review and management of AIHA content and outcomes
Over the course of the last few years, AIHA’s Content Portfolio Advisory Group (CPAG) has identified six topic areas that are considered important research areas. AIHA will therefore focus primarily on these emerging issues:
Hazard banding/OEL process
Hazard banding provides a consistent scientific framework for developing “OEL bands” that practitioners can use to help determine benchmarks for occupational exposures. Given the huge number of chemicals in commerce, the relatively low number of occupational exposure limits for those chemicals, and the difficulty of updating OELs, the Association will develop knowledge and resources to advocate hazard banding as an effective industrial hygiene practice.
New applications of sensor technologies are producing greater amounts of diverse, personalized data. Real-time instruments can better capture current exposures and allow for a real-time response. They also hold promise for long-term and continuous monitoring and can be used to promote risk communication.
Global Standard of Care
One consequence of a global economy is that companies’ supply chains have expanded into regions whose EHS regulations and expectations differ from those of the Western world. The challenges of managing EHS in emerging markets include threats that reach across borders (such as trade, climate change, and pandemics) and the lack of a universal EHS standard of care.
IH/OEHS Value/Business Case Development
Industrial hygienists need skills to demonstrate their value and convince top management to consider IH/OEHS at the beginning stages of a project, not after implementation.
Total Worker Exposure
The workforce is becoming older and more diverse. Today’s workers typically have multiple careers and multiple employers during their working lives, and an ever-increasing number are finding employment in non-traditional work environments.
Big Data Management
“Big data” is one of the most prominent buzzwords of recent years. Emerging tools and new sources of data offer new ways for IHs to analyze risks.