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Home > Resources > The Synergist > SynergistNOW Blog > Posts > The Rubber Meets the Road
The Rubber Meets the Road

By Larry Sloan

Happy New Year! As my tenure hits its 90-day mark, I am pleased to report that AIHA, in collaboration with ABIH and ACGIH, has formed a new task force to address how we can better communicate to the many stakeholder groups we serve what it is IH/OH professionals do and why it is so vitally important. AIHA isn’t allowing moss to grow under our feet! I’d like to draw your attention to several of many efforts with the overall goal of heightening public awareness about the importance of IH/OH:

  1. #IAmIH launched at Fall Conference 2016 as part of the 2017 membership campaign. #IAmIH is about recognizing the integral role that industrial hygiene professionals play in daily life and spreading the word to the general public.
  2. We recently invited all industrial hygiene and occupational health professionals to tell their story about how they came to be an IH and the impact they've had on their community. We received an overwhelming 41 submissions! The selection committee is currently in the process of compiling select entries into a short documentary and captioned videos for social channels to premiere at AIHce 2017. All applicants not chosen to be featured in the documentary will be showcased via the Synergist’s digital channels and then compiled into an e-Book showcasing the unsung heroes of IH. We plan to reach out to our international community to share international #IAmIH stories at IOHA 2018, which AIHA will host in Washington, D.C. 
  3. In collaboration with ASSE, ABIH, and other organizations, we participated in a special USA Today supplement published Dec. 23 on occupational safety.
  4. We formed a new task force to explore updating and rebranding the profession to enhance our appeal to students and young professionals. The task force includes members from AIHA, ABIH, and ACGIH.
  5. The #IAmIH training and outreach challenge will be held at Leadership Workshop in March 2017. Attendees will be introduced to the outreach program and given a presentation on how to effectively build and carry out their own program. Those who participate will be entered into a drawing, with prizes awarded at AIHA’s Conference on Leadership and Management 2017. 
  6. We will give presentations about #IAmIH at IOHA 2018, local section meetings, and the Intersociety Forum, which includes representatives from several health and safety organizations.
  7. We will host a reporter breakfast/webinar about #IAmIH. The event will help reporters understand what IH is and the resources available to them through AIHA. 

Please let us know if you would like to volunteer to help with this public awareness campaign as it unfolds in 2017. What a great way to get involved with AIHA and play an integral role in communicating the important work IH/OH professionals do every day! 

Larry Sloan is AIHA’s CEO.


Need market research and marketing to employers

For the past decade, it has been harder to find work in the field of IH. Yet, AIHA presidents annually write the perfunctory column in the Synergist stating (without proof) that more IHs are needed.  I came from a large midwestern city which had many colleges and universities and churned out more scientific and engineering and public health graduates than that market could absorb, especially with over 2 decades of outsourcing jobs overseas.  Former military personnel trained in IH and safety and environment and workers who have been put in the position of ESH coordinator compete for jobs, especially in the government.

Over several years, I asked AIHA how many IHs and especially CIHs were unemployed during the height of the recession.  I was told no one from AIHA had these numbers.  While marketing had also decreased (remember Detectives of the Workplace and other programs years ago?) over the years, it is critical to determine the actual need for and numbers of what level of IH is needed to fill jobs. 

The audience we need to market to is the potential employers.  Employers determine what they need, what title to give it--what IS a Specialist, anyway?, and what qualifications are needed even though many do not have enough knowledge of the field to make that determination well.

When I was in graduate school, I was told the professional level IH was masters-degreed. The AIHA website said professional level IHs are bachelors-degreed.  Perhaps there should be an IH technologist level to recognize this intermediate level which is often trained by Air Force, undergraduate schools, etc.  AIHA with ASSE should provide employers with guidance as to when certain qualifications are recommended.  If AIHA does not provide guidance such as this, there will continue to be a disconnect between the members and appropriate jobs.  There is much room for improvement in the method of matching people to work in this country, let alone in our field.
 on 1/17/2017 12:56 PM by Carol A Giles | Flag comment for inappropriate content

Reply to "Need market research and marketing to employers"

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my blog. This is an excellent comment, and helps us further understand further as an organization who our target audiences need to be for our new “brand refresh” initiative. The new task force will need to deliberate on the points you make.

Coming from the chemical industry I will tell you that my personal familiarity is more on the EHSS (environmental, health, safety & security) side than traditional IH. That being said, AIHA can and must do better (perhaps in collaboration with not only ASSE but also NAEM, which represents the EHSS population) to communicate what educational requirements are needed for various types of jobs in industry.

As for obtaining market data on how many IH professionals were unemployed during the Great Recession, this pre-dates my tenure but it certainly would have been an interesting data point to collect (e.g., which industries were in fact shedding IH jobs and in what numbers across the US?). Nevertheless if you would like to join our new task force, please let me know at
 on 1/18/2017 11:00 AM by Larry Sloan | Flag comment for inappropriate content

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