Perusing the December Synergist’s “Board
Perspective” column (“Creating the Future
through Risk Management” by Charles
Redinger) on exposure risk assessment and
management (ERAM), I read that as indus-
trial hygienists we have “mature practices
and standards that can be leveraged to
accelerate the application of risk manage-
ment principles to enterprise issues.”
ERAM is a dog that won’t hunt. Instead
of a “powerful platform upon which our
traditional discipline can continue evolv-
ing,” it looks more like a confusing risk
One of the core values in the AIHA
2011–2015 Strategic Plan is to prevent
illness and injuries. ERAM may postpone
illness and injury prevention if economic
considerations have more weight in the
Chapter 7 of the new White Book
stresses dedication to anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of hazards
arising in the workplace. Control of those
hazards should be our mantra, not management of the risks that some corporate-level administrator has associated with
those hazards. As industrial hygienists, we
find things that need fixin’ and get ’em
fixed. We don’t find things that need fixin’
and then, perhaps over a few martinis in
the executive suite, decide, well, if it isn’t
fixed, what’s going to happen, how bad
will that be, and who’s going to know?
Head, Industrial Hygiene Department
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
To suggest that ERAM is a “dog that won’t hunt” reflects a narrow view of
our profession. We have been using the principles that underlie ERAM since our
earliest days. It is the foundation upon which we do what we do.
ERAM is an advancement on these principles that evolved out of AIHA’s recent five-year strategic planning process. The AIHA Board, along with the Academy and ABIH leadership, participated in this endeavor. A project team has been
formed to explore ways ERAM can be applied within AIHA and throughout the
IH profession. This project team comprises a wide range of AIHA committees and
their leadership; some of our profession’s top minds have been involved.
Industrial hygiene remains essential in public health and worker protection
paradigms, but there is a reality that the narrow practice of IH has diminished
and many IHs perform activities well beyond traditional ones. This trend is
also reflected in undergraduate and graduate IH programs. In his September
2010 President’s Message, AIHA President Michael T. Brandt summed up this
changing nature and challenged readers: “The discipline of industrial hygiene is
changing; we need to embrace the changes while preserving our core competen-
cies. The scientific and technical competencies each of us developed through our
academic study have prepared us to practice in a wide array of work activities.”
A driver of the ERAM discussion is to clarify the “core” of the IH profession.
Using ERAM as a filter and context allows us to focus resources; identify areas
where our expertise can make a larger contribution in workplace health and
safety; strengthen our profession; and build relationships with other professions.
With the utmost respect, I think it trivializes our profession to suggest we
only find things that need “fixin’.” Those are just the baseline. Where we truly
make a difference is when we go beyond that bare minimum to improve living
and working conditions.
The White Book has an entire section, reinforced by 13 chapters, on the centrality of management to the execution of IH programs and systems. Chapter 7
addresses the “general practice of evaluating worker exposures in the industrial
environment.” It says that the IH hierarchy—anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control—“suggests a sequence for occupational hygiene decision
making process.” This points to a management process and does not exclude or
minimize the importance of managing risks.
President, Redinger EHS
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