Thought Leadership

Our future is ours to define and implement

September 24, 2009
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It’s time to begin digesting and understanding what has happened recently but also what has been occurring over the last several years.

  • The industrial hygiene and safety profession is not growing at a pace to keep up with the number of baby boomers who are set to retire in the next 5-12 years.
  • Enrollment at universities with IH, OH and S programs is down dramatically over the last 10 years.
  • Organizations do a lot of talking about SHE but look at the attendance at AIHCE this year. Many organizations, both large and small, were using the excuse that they could not “allow” S&OH pros to attend because it was international travel.
  • OSHA did get an increase in its budget for the coming year BUT compare the budget of OSHA which is in the millions ($564 million FY 2010) to the budget of EPA which is in the multiples of billions. ($10.5 billion, FY2010) OSHA got about a 50 million increase whereas EPA got 3 billion more over 2009. Is there something not right with this picture? We certainly want to protect the environment but shouldn’t we want to protect the people in our workforce even more???
  • Most people still have no idea what an industrial hygienist is. That is not my opinion but fact. Ask anyone on the street if they know. They will probably tell you that they see a hygienist once or twice a year to have their teeth cleaned. This is not a joke either. This is seriously sad.
  • Lastly we saw a major change that was announced at AIHCE. AIHA and ACGIH are in serious discussions to see if a defined alliance between the two can be done. This alliance will probably result in the merger of both entities with AIHA and ACGIH retaining their names but members of both will become members of one mother organization yet to be determined.

  • How do we turn all of this around and take advantage of the changes and move forward?

  • WE need to work on outreach as if everyone’s life and careers depended on it. Because they do depend on it. We need to begin significant education of high school guidance counselors and college counselors. Most do not have an appreciation/knowledge/understanding of S&OH, especially OH/IH. Does this mean that we need to bring tens of thousands more S&OH pros into the market place? No… but we do need to ramp up the number of students who are at least contemplating going to college in the S&OH professions.
  • Enrollment in universities will not go back up to levels that the global demand can support until the right types of outreach and education of the public, corporations and government understand what is at stake.
  • Organizations need to begin to integrate S&OH professionals into the management structure. When that happens on a consistent basis a number of things will change. You can’t make change if you don’t have a seat at the table.
  • Once outreach begins to have positive impacts then our legislators may begin to realize that protecting their constituents may be just as important as protecting the environment.
  • We will get the public to better understand what S&OH pros do when outreach becomes meaningful and sustainable. Maybe someone needs to write a pilot for television about S&OH pros and make it just as exciting and thrilling as we all know it really is.
  • Consolidation of the major S&OH organizations may be coming and I think should take place sooner than later. Its time to stop protecting turf and start protecting people again. The less time each group of professionals spend on protecting “their areas of expertise” the better chance we will have in developing a stronger critical mass.
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