Industrial Hygiene Groups' Members OK Merger

Members of the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the American Academy of Industrial Hygienists have voted to approve the merger of the two professional organizations.

Members of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the American Academy of Industrial Hygienists (AAIH) have voted to approve the merger of the two professional organizations.

AIHA members recently approved the merger by a large margin. Of 3,429 ballots cast out of 10,756 mailed, 3,193 (93 percent) were in favor of the merger and 225 (7 percent) were against the merger. Eleven ballots were unmarked.

AAIH, which also required a two-thirds majority vote by its members, approved the merger recently by a similar overwhelming margin. Of 5,976 votes sent out, 2,633 were received, with 2,391 (91 percent) voting for the merger and 242 (9 percent) voting against it.

AIHA members voted on bylaws changes to have the American Board of Industrial Hygiene dissolve AAIH and recreate it as the Academy of Industrial Hygiene, which will replace AAIH's current function. The reason for the merger is to give industrial hygienists more clout in areas of governmental and scientific affairs, regulations and standards, said AIHA President James R. Thornton, CIH, CSP.

While AIHA members may be certified or noncertified industrial hygienists, all AAIH members are certified, Thornton said. Thus, AIHA's membership numbers of about 12,000 will not be affected much by the merger with AAIH, which has about 6,000 members.

"We believe the organization's synergies produced with the merger will provide greater member services for the same or less cost," he said. For example, the merger will result in a net dues reduction of $15 for certified members.

After the merger, AIHA and the academy will continue training activities. Thornton predicts that the academy eventually will provide more of AIHA's training needs.

The academy will have organizational responsibilities for AIHA's annual Professional Conference on Industrial Hygiene and will continue as secretariat for the Joint Industrial Hygiene Ethics Education Committee. These activities will be funded through the AIHA budgetary process.

AAIH's only paid employee, a contracted staff worker, will be involved in the merger transition. Elected officers of AAIH will retain their posts as part of the academy.

A transition team, made up of members of both groups, will meet Sept. 12 in Washington, D.C., to begin the merger process, with a goal of being completed by February 2000. The team will blend the two groups' resources and services.

AIHA sought a merger two years ago with the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), which voted against the proposal. Thornton said he would like to initiate talks again with the 5,072-member group, made up of government and academic industrial hygienists.

AAIH President-elect Loren Anderson, CIH, has the same vision. "The new organization will bring industrial hygienists one step closer to a single organization representing their professional interests to the outside world," Anderson said. "This is a goal put forward by the Unification Task Force as a method of preparing industrial hygienists for the challenges of the new millennium."

About 91 percent of AAIH members favor the task force working toward merging the four industrial hygiene organizations: AIHA, AAIH, ABIH and ACGIH.

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