AIHA's Value Study Seeks to Change Profession's Approach

Leaders of the American Industrial Hygiene Association released their Strategy to Demonstrate the Value of Industrial Hygiene on Tuesday at AIHce in Minneapolis, giving the entire IH profession a tool and a nudge to use it to sell their profession's benefits back home, where they work every day. The tool is a report of about 250 pages that includes real-world case studies demonstrating these key findings:

  • The greatest IH value contributions result from impacting the business process rather than reducing health costs or workers' comp costs and from designing process improvements to reduce or eliminate workers' exposures, and thus produce significant contributions to business profitability.
  • Significant savings from IH value contributions result from eliminating the hazard or implementing engineering controls -- a strong confirmation of the value of the hierarchy of controls -- and from IHs' participating on business teams.

In a press conference Tuesday, members of the AIHA panel that shepherded the study to completion said it directly addresses manufacturing but can be generalized to service industries and government, too. "This is the beginning of our journey to understand the value of our profession, not the end," said Michael Brandt, a member of the association's board. "For the first time, we've got a structured strategy that we are going to teach the profession to use."

There was no data demonstrating the profession's value when the project began and an RFP was issued, said Brandt and Tom Grumbles, who was AIHA's president at that time and chaired the panel. Four proposals were submitted, and ORC Worldwide was hired to conduct the study because it works with companies that would provide data useful for the study, Grumbles said.

The study is available at www.ihvalue.org. The leaders said their tasks now are to disseminate it to the trade press and other media and to other interested parties, to persuade IHs to share it and implement it in their organizations' processes, and to get AIHA members to return data from their own organizations to provide additional support for the strategy.

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