AIHA Public Policy Survey Highlights Top EHS Issues For Industrial Hygienists

The biennial survey identifies priority issues – including updating permissible exposure limits and OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program – for the industrial hygiene profession and the members of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. The American Society of Safety Engineers has identified similar issues.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has identified the top occupational and environmental health and safety public policy issues through a recent survey. The public policy survey was distributed to AIHA members in October and prompted respondents to prioritize industry-related federal policy issues.

AIHA conducts its public policy survey every 2 years. In response to the survey results, AIHA reviews its existing white papers and position statements, and may draft new position statements, to appropriately address each issue.

EHS Industry Issues

AIHA members identified the following industry-related issues as the most important overall priorities for the next 2 years:

Updating Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) – The occupational health and safety profession considers PELs to be one of the most basic tools needed to protect workers. However, many PELs have not been updated since the 1960s and 1970s. Science in this area has matured, but the PELs have not. AIHA continues to work with OSHA, Congress and others to reach a consensus on the best way to update the PELs.

OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) – AIHA supports the need and importance in defining effective occupational health and safety programs and the acceptance in the IH and safety community that hazard assessment and implementation of a written safety and health program are parts of minimum acceptable professional practice on any worksite.

Professional recognition/title protection for industrial hygienists – This issue first appeared as a top public policy issue for AIHA in 1993. Professional recognition/title protection allows industrial hygienists and others who have met minimum educational and experience requirements (such as certified industrial hygienists and certified safety professionals) to be legally defined and recognized as competent to perform certain work without the need for additional requirements.

Appropriations for OSHA and NIOSH; OSHA reform issues; greater recognition of NIOSH – AIHA members support efforts to review and amend the OSH Act if changes provide added protection for workers. AIHA also supports efforts to protect the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from attempts to diminish the importance of the institute and its research. The association members support appropriations to adequately fund OSHA, MSHA and NIOSH.

Nanotechnology – Workers within nanotechnology industries have the potential to be exposed to uniquely engineered materials, yet the occupational health risks associated with this technology are not clearly understood.

Laboratory accreditation – AIHA continues working to see that the AIHA laboratory accreditation program is internationally recognized and noted in federal and state legislation and regulation as one of the programs with recognition and acceptance.

Legislative Targets and Government Priorities

AIHA members have identified the following industry-related issues as priorities for federal or state legislative activity:

  • Updating Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)
  • Appropriations for OSHA, MSHA, NIOSH and EPA
  • Toxic substances – Toxic Substances Control Act
  • Professional recognition/title protection for industrial hygienists
  • Nanotechnology

AIHA members also were asked to identify priorities for OSHA and EPA. According to the survey respondents, these include:

  • Updating permissible exposure limits (PELs)
  • Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2)
  • Hazard communication – The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Classification/Labeling of Chemicals
  • Nanotechnology
  • Combustible dust
  • Silica
  • Noise/Hearing

In addition to specific public policy issues, AIHA members also ranked the top issues of overall importance to the association. The top association issues are professional ethics, professional recognition/title protection and continued and increased focus on state regulations and legislation.

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