January 22, 2019 / Mark Ames

AIHA’s Public Policy Agenda for 2019-2020

Only a few weeks ago, the tolling of the new year echoed throughout the world, calling each person to reflect in a spirit of renewal. Shortly thereafter, legislatures around the country and in our nation’s capital began their sessions. Filled with the hopes and dreams of those they represent, legislators are getting back to work—and AIHA is ready to meet them.

In the early days of the new year, AIHA issued its first-ever Public Policy Agenda. Covering the years 2019 through 2020, the agenda addresses 15 of the nation’s most important worker health and safety areas:

  • Big Data
  • Cannabis Industry Health and Safety
  • Disaster Planning, Response, and Recovery
  • Hazard Banding/OEL Process
  • Hearing Protection
  • Opioids in the Workplace
  • Professional Title Protection
  • Sensors
  • Teen Workplace Health and Safety
  • Temporary and Contract Workers
  • Total Worker Exposure
  • Transportation Safety
  • Worker Fatigue
  • Workforce Development
  • Workplace Violence

In addition, the agenda includes a robust plan for grassroots organization and mobilization, legislator report cards, a media strategy, and a list of key governmental programs and entities, as well as important nonprofit organizations.

With respect to grassroots organization and mobilization, working together with AIHA’s ACTIONS (government relations) Committee, we are asking each local section to designate a government relations point of contact who will be responsible for organizing at least one meeting each year with other nongovernmental organizations, and at least two meetings each year with policymakers. These meetings should be open to all local section members. The purposes of these meetings include, but are not limited to, relationship building, seeking opportunities for collaboration, and advocacy.

Turning to the legislator report cards, AIHA will create, and update twice each year, report cards indicating how legislators voted on key bills. (Key bills are legislation of such high importance that we encourage our members and the public to take action by contacting their legislators in support or opposition.) Report cards will be made for each state and will include information on both federal and state legislation. AIHA staff will post the report cards online for use by our members and a variety of other audiences. It is AIHA’s intention that the report cards will be used by our members and others as resources that will assist them in preparing for meetings with policymakers.

Because AIHA’s government relations strategy includes a focus on engaging the association’s members, policymakers, the public, and others, our policy agenda also includes a media strategy. Specifically, AIHA staff will continue to hold regular meetings with reporters to provide updates on recent and anticipated AIHA government relations activities and to gain insights into the stories they are covering or may cover in the future. We are also asking officers of local sections and volunteer groups or their designees to regularly meet with members of the media to help them better understand the role of industrial hygiene in worker health and safety issues that affect their communities, states, and the nation as a whole. The goal of establishing closer relationships with the media is to encourage them to use AIHA members as resources for stories. To support these efforts, AIHA staff will provide media training to local section and volunteer group officers twice a year. In addition, each year, AIHA will convene a panel of reporters who will speak about the media industry and provide feedback on how coverage of worker health and safety can be increased.

AIHA’s 2019 – 2020 Public Policy Agenda (PDF) was composed with the assistance of hundreds of ACTIONS Committee members, local section and volunteer group officers, and staff. As a whole, it provides a sturdy framework for addressing important issues facing our nation. It is now up to us to give it life. Just as the new year marks the beginning of a new cycle, in a land whose government is created by the people and for the people, so too does the work of government relations return to us.

A new year has begun, and AIHA is ready for work.

Mark Ames

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