This is the last year that the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists'' annual joint conference will be known as the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHCE).
Next year''s conference will be the first to sport the new name: The EHS Conference and Expo -- the premiere conference for the protection of the workplace and the community.
According to AIHA the decision to change the name of the conference was determined by many factors.
In an interview with occupationalhazards.com, current AIHCE Co-Chairman Steve Levine, explained the reasons for this change.
The first reason, Levine pointed to, is the fact that the practice area of the industrial hygiene profession has changed.
"We discovered that conference attendees could no longer be described by the name AIHCE. The new name (EHS Conference and Expo) more accurately describes what people do -- environmental health, occupational health and safety."
Another reason for the change is the high percentage of Certified Safety Professionals (CSPs) in AIHA''s membership. Levine also noted that the association sponsors two environmental health certifications.
The name change, according to Levine, is ultimately a reflection of the fact that the industrial hygiene profession is broadening.
"Industrial hygienists are no longer being hired just for their IH knowledge," said Levine. "Many IH professionals are hired as Environmental Health and Safety directors."
The conference name change is not without its critics. Levine admitted that there is a group of members who are not in favor of the new name.
In response to the reluctance, Levine said that the name change is nothing new.
"This has been very public. It has been part of the associations'' strategic plan all along, which is the advancement of these three professions (environment, health and safety) and the delivery of products and services in those areas so our members and attendees can have the knowledge and skills to practice in all those areas," said Levine.
The new name also has supporters. Levine noted that many of the vendors, which display their products and services in each of those areas at the show, are welcoming the broadening of the name.
A group against the new name solicited enough signatures of attendees at the AIHCE to send its petition to keep the name to the Board.
"The Board has received the petition to return the conference name to AIHCE. After validation, the petition will promptly be sent to a vote of the membership with balanced "pro and con" views attached. In the meantime, the Board is considering what, if any, further action on the name should be taken," said Levine.
However, he also invited AIHA members to focus their efforts on current industry debates that are more deserving of the attention, such as the PEL process, OSHA reform, violence in the workplace and indoor air quality.
"These are the things our board of directors needs to focus their intelligent energies on to lead this profession into the future," said Levine. These topics should solicit spirited debate by our membership. The name change, while worthy of debate, is relatively a minor issue."
by Virginia Sutcliffe