Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Engineering the Future

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Engineering the Future

Article excerpt

In two years, D. Jeff Burton will be president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and Gyan S. Rajhans will be chairperson of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Both men are bracing for change in their profession, and in the organizations they'll represent.

At the AIHCE meeting this past May, the four major industrial hygiene organizations formed a task force to consider the delicate issue of "unification."

"I'm all for unity," Burton told Occupational Hazards. "I just hope unification doesn't become too divisive. There is the potential for that unless a very large percentage of the membership feels a part of the process and agrees to unification."

Rajhans sees a continued existence for ACGIH. "The voting members of ACGIH are mostly government employees who enjoy the worldwide reputation of an unbiased approach to standards-setting through the TLVs, BEIs and ventilation standards," said Rajhans. "Any merger will eliminate this unique credibility."

Whether a merger occurs or not, both leaders look forward to a closer relationship between the four associations. Said Burton: "We can, at the very least, streamline our activities, save duplication of effort, hold conjoint meetings, share or divide responsibilities, and possibly redirect members' dues to better uses - such as research."

That money could be sorely needed in the U.S. At press time, a besieged NIOSH faces a budget cut of 25 percent, including elimination of training funds, in the House of Representatives.

"If government funding of research and university grants dries up, we as a profession must be prepared to take up the responsibility," said Burton. "We may be asked to devote part of our recertification fees [CSP, CIH and so forth] to research and development purposes. One proposal calls for $10 to $100 of our recertification fees to be donated to a new research foundation to be organized by the major associations. If the American Academy of Industrial Hygiene were to be merged with one of the associations, for example, we could direct much of those funds to the foundation. It would award grants and research funds to universities and other researchers. It would also solicit major funds from manufacturers and labor groups."

Many safety and health professionals are forecasting a more prominent role for consensus standards groups as OSHA faces significant funding cuts and procedural obstacles to promulgating new rules. …

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