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Posted: November 12, 2008

AIHA names nanotechnology as one of its top Occupational and environmental health and safety issues

(Nanowerk News) The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has announced the results of its biennial membership survey that projects the top public policy issues of concern to AIHA members and the occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) profession over the next two years.
“This list of policy issues allows AIHA to focus our efforts on the priorities of our members,” said AIHA President Lindsay E. Booher, CIH, CSP. “Industrial hygienists and other OEHS professionals are on the front line of worker safety and public health, and these regulatory and legislative issues have a key impact on the work that they perform.”
AIHA has identified the following as the top public policy issues for 2009–2010:
Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) Updating
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) PELs are consensus-based limits that indicate how long an individual can be exposed to a particular substance without experiencing harmful effects. The occupational health and safety profession considers PELs to be one of the most basic tools needed to protect workers. However, many PELs have not been updated since the 1960s and 1970s. Science in this area has matured, but the PELs have not. AIHA continues to work with OSHA, Congress, and others to reach a consensus on the best way to update the PELs.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)/Globally Harmonized System (GHS)
AIHA supports efforts to improve the accuracy of MSDS and supports efforts to improve hazard communication for employers and employees. Such efforts are also a crucial element in protecting workers and others in case of national emergencies. A major part of improving hazard communication is adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. AIHA supports adoption of the GHS.
Nanotechnology
The increased use of nanotechnology in our daily lives raises occupational health and safety concerns that we may be unaware of when working with this new technology. AIHA supports research into the possible hazards involved with nanotechnology but suggests caution in enacting new legislation and/or regulation that might be detrimental to the health and safety or workers.
Professional Recognition/Title Protection
This issue continues to appear in the top public policy issues for AIHA, as it has since 1993. Professional recognition/title protection allows industrial hygienists and others who have met minimum educational and experience requirements (such as certified industrial hygienists and certified safety professionals) to be legally defined and recognized as competent to perform certain work without the need for additional requirements. Some form of professional recognition/title protection legislation has been enacted in 19 states, and more than 25 states have additional recognition of AIHA programs and/or definitions. AIHA continues to educate federal and state policymakers about the importance of recognizing those professionals who have received education and certification from nationally recognized and accredited organizations.
Laboratory Accreditation
Accredited laboratories are the best way to ensure that test samples of potential workplace hazards are analyzed correctly. AIHA continues working to see that the AIHA laboratory accreditation program is noted in federal and state legislation and regulation as one of the programs with national recognition and acceptance. There is also an increased need to have AIHA-accredited laboratories recognized on the international level.
OSHA – Specific Issues
AIHA top public policy issues for OSHA addressing specific issues:
  • Combustible Dust Standard
  • Ergonomics Standard
  • Cranes and Derricks Standard
  • Silica Standard
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • OSHA – General Issues
    AIHA top public policy issues for OSHA addressing general issues:
  • PELs – Updating
  • GHS for Classification/Labeling of Chemicals
  • Nanotechnology
  • Safety and Health Programs/Injury and Illness Prevention Programs
  • Risk Assessment
  • Federal/State Legislative Issues
    AIHA top public policy issues for Federal or State Legislative Activity:
  • PELs – Updating
  • Appropriations for OSHA, MSHA, NIOSH, EPA
  • Federal Contracting – Must comply with OSHA regulations to receive
  • GHS for Classification/Labeling of Chemicals
  • Expansion of OSHA coverage to all employees
  • Environmental Protection Agency Issues
    AIHA top public policy issues for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
  • GHS for Classification/Labeling of Chemicals
  • Clean Air Act
  • Clean Water Act
  • National/International Standards
    Top national/international standards of importance to the profession:
  • Nanotechnology
  • Establishing Guideline Values/Setting PELs
  • Laboratory Analysis/Certification
  • Environmental/OH&S Management Systems
  • Additional standards ranking very high in the survey:
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Industrial Ventilation Systems
  • Risk Management
  • Noise/Bioacoustics
  • Association Issues
    In addition to public policy issues, AIHA members also ranked the following in overall importance to AIHA. The top association issues are:
  • Collaboration with other OEHS organizations
  • Professional Ethics
  • Standards (ANSI, ASTM, etc.)
  • GHS for Classification/Labeling of Chemicals
  • According to Aaron Trippler, AIHA Director of Government Affairs, the results did show a few interesting trends. “The most interesting result from this survey is probably what did not appear as a top public policy issue,” said Trippler. “The issue of emergency preparedness and response was previously one of the top issues. This latest survey did not find this issue anywhere near the top. Obviously, the further we move away from 9/11 the less importance for this issue or our members believe the issue has been sufficiently addressed. The other interesting fact is that while updating the PELs again appeared as one of the top issues, previous concerns about the Threshhold Limit Values from two years ago seems to have abated.”
    “Another interesting trend was the appearance of the Globally Harmonized System and nanotechnology appearing among the top issues,” Trippler added. “These two issues continue to elicit increased interest from our members and should help us convince policymakers that these issues need to be addressed as soon as possible.”
    For further information regarding AIHA’s top policy issues for 2009–2010, please contact Aaron Trippler at (703) 846-0730 or atrippler@aiha.org.
    Source: AIHA