In 2012, the AIHA Board of Directors approved the creation of a research strategy as part of the Envisioned Future initiative. This strategy would form the cornerstone of the development of an organization-wide, cohesive, purposed, and prioritized program of work. With this realignment strategy, the Association could shift to a more driven focus that would be integrated into various organization efforts. Four dimensions to this strategy have been put into place:
Discovery – 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 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 seven topic areas that are considered important research areas. AIHA will therefore focus primarily on these emerging issues.
The Association will provide a yearly report that will update members on the state of research for each of these areas.
Hazard banding/OEL process
Hazard banding provides a consistent scientific framework for development of “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.
(Read the new Future of Sensors report at the AIHA Guideline Foundation page.)
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 value/business case development
Industrial hygienists need skills to demonstrate their value and to convince top management to consider IH at the beginning stages of a project, not after implementation.
Total worker exposure
The work force 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.
Emergency preparedness and response
Industrial hygienists play a significant role in protecting the lives of our nation’s response personnel, its support staff, and the surrounding community. IH technical expertise can effectively identify and control risks during pre-planning, emergency response, and consequence management phases of an incident.