This month’s Synergist, which focuses on
international issues in industrial hygiene,
provides a suitable occasion for re-examining AIHA’s commitment to protecting
worker health® worldwide. Last year, the
Board Committee for International Development was formed to focus on AIHA’s
international program development.
Under the leadership of AIHA Director
Kevin Gara, this committee is implementing key international activities.
AIHA’s strategic plan includes three
main long-term goals for international development. This article is a brief report on
our progress in meeting these goals and
assuming a greater international leadership
role in occupational health and safety.
Goal 1: Increase International
Our international membership has undergone steady growth in recent years. As of
early August, AIHA has 1,164 members in
64 countries outside the U.S. Of those
members, 689 reside in Canada, which is
hosting both AIHce and PCIH this year. In
addition, the international affiliate member
category, introduced in 2007, has helped
expand AIHA’s presence in developing
countries. Currently, AIHA has 152 international affiliate members—an increase of
nearly 40 percent since November 2008.
AIHA’s educational programs have
been remarkably successful in spurring
membership growth in China, which has
more members than any country other
than the U.S. and Canada. Last October,
AIHA held a well-received Fundamentals
of Industrial Hygiene (FIH) course in
Shanghai. Nearly 50 EHS practitioners attended the course, and plans are in the
works for additional events in China.
AIHA is also exploring the possibility of
holding the FIH course in India and conducting on-site training in Kuwait.
Goal 2: Guidelines and Standards
The AIHA Standards Council ensures that
AIHA maintains an appropriate level of
involvement in international standards
development activities. One of its crucial
functions is to coordinate communication
between the Board and AIHA’s representatives to standards committees.
Currently, AIHA serves as secretariat
for American National Standards Institute
(ANSI) committees on industrial ventilation systems, respiratory protection, and
occupational health and safety management systems. AIHA also maintains representatives to committees in other
standards organizations, including ASTM,
NFPA, ISO, and IEC.
Now more than ever, standards activities that directly impact practicing IHs in
the U.S. are taking shape outside of North
America. The AIHA Board believes it is
paramount that we remain abreast of
these meetings and participate in those
that have the most potential to impact
Goal 3: Strengthen Collaborations
Some of AIHA’s most successful collabo-
rations with related organizations have
involved co-sponsorship of conferences
that bring together practitioners from
around the world to discuss important is-
sues in occupational safety and health.
The most recent example is the June
2009 Occupational and Environmental
Exposure of Skin to Chemicals (OEESC)
conference in Scotland, which AIHA
cosponsored with the British Occupa-
tional Hygiene Society. And next month,
AIHA will sponsor the 9th International
Conference on Industrial Ventilation in
The plight of workers in nations undergoing rapid industrialization represents perhaps the most urgent challenge facing
our profession. Bringing the science of
industrial hygiene to developing nations
is a complicated problem; solving it will
require a long-term commitment.
Yet the seeds of success are being
sown. The Breakthrough Thinking competition at AIHce 2009 encouraged atten-dees to propose innovative solutions to
long-standing problems in the profession.
In October, a representative of the winning team from that competition will
present ideas for improving international
worker health and safety to the Board at
PCIH in Vancouver. Whether or not the
Board decides to implement the proposal,
the Breakthrough Thinking competition
and the quality of ideas generated by our
members have reminded us that we possess the expertise, vision, and commitment that leaders aspire to.
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