Advancing AIHA's Good Samaritan Project

Many states provide this protection to engineers and architects. Industrial hygienists and other safety and health professionals should have it, as well.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association's government affairs director, Aaron Trippler, hopes to make progress at next month's AIHce 2014 conference on a commendable project: passing Good Samaritan state laws to protect qualified occupational health and safety professionals who volunteer during emergencies. AIHA has been interested in this since the 9/11 attacks, which showed why the laws are needed. As Trippler explained in a February 2014 column in The Synergist, AIHA provided a list of more than 250 members who volunteered to help during the cleanup and recovery, but the city and state of New York raised liability concerns. It happened again after Hurricane Katrina.

The laws would shield volunteer CIHs, CSPs, and other qualified safety and health professionals from liability for civil damages or penalties, other than gross negligence.

"There's been an awful lot of response [to his column] from our local sections, and I think that's going to be key," Trippler said in an interview. He said he hopes to persuade the National Conference of State Legislatures to recommend a model Good Samaritan bill to states' legislatures. It's very important to keep this issue non-partisan and apolitical, he added.

"The one thing I try to tell people is, you don't have to use this law. . . . If something does happen, it's nice to have this in your back pocket," Trippler said. "Should the need arise, you have it."

He said he plans to discuss this issue when he speaks to AIHA's Local Sections Council and to several volunteer committees during the San Antonio conference, and he is asking local sections to arrange meetings for him to make the case to state legislators.

Many states provide this protection to engineers and architects. I agree that industrial hygienists and other safety and health professionals should have it, as well.

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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