(Article published on the AIHA.org Blog)
I can hardly think of it without smiling. Thanksgiving: the smells of savory spices filling the air joined by the din of family and friends conversing. This is a time of great fellowship, a time of peaceful presentness and reflection on our many blessings. Just as we plan with meticulous care the meal (or meals!) that we will soon enjoy, so too do we look to the future and envision where we wish to be in the days to come.
When you think of “AIHA,” what images first come to mind? I’ll bet they’re of AIHce EXP, or perhaps a local section meeting or conference, catching up with friends, colleagues, and making new acquaintances while learning about the latest developments in occupational safety and health. The people are one of the many things that make AIHA special, and high-quality networking opportunities are consistently rated as one of the most important member benefits. Like the Thanksgiving holiday, people are at the heart of everything we do; this is equally true in government relations.
AIHA has a lot to be thankful for. Because of our members, we have achieved considerable success this year alone. Here’s what we’ve accomplished so far in 2019:
- AIHA Government Relations published our first-ever Public Policy Agenda.
- Local sections held “Days on the Hill” meetings with State legislators.
- Tom Grumbles, past president of AIHA and the Product Stewardship Society, testified before Congress on the Toxic Substances Control Act.
- Anthony Oliveri, Secretary of the ACTIONS Committee, testified before the Michigan State House Education Committee on young worker health and safety and workforce development.
- AIHA Government Relations launched our first-ever public engagement campaign, focusing on wildfires.
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act.
- The House also passed a funding bill that contains AIHA’s recommended levels for OSHA, MSHA, and NIOSH.
- An AIHA-supported bill that addresses the cleanup of fentanyl contaminated property was enacted into law in California.
- An AIHA-supported bill that encourages high school students to take an OSHA 30-hour course as an option to meet their graduation requirements was passed by the Michigan State House Education Committee.
- AIHA was invited to participate in the first-ever combined workshop of public and private partners to discuss supply chain issues related to the Strategic National Stockpile for pandemics.
- AIHA participated in OSHA’s Safe Summer Jobs campaign, Safe + Sound Week, Construction Roundtable, and other agency events.
- AIHA submitted comments to NIOSH and OSHA on requests for information.
Presently, we stand with members who are energized and eager to help advance public policies that protect workers and their communities. Policymakers are willing (and in some cases have committed) to introducing legislation that supports AIHA’s recommendations, and government entities and nongovernmental organizations are excited to work with us. The next great challenge will be to stoke this energy and channel it into additional successes for worker health and safety. AIHA is rising to meet this need. Be on the lookout for a new grassroots government relations engagement strategy that builds upon AIHA’s Public Policy Agenda and is designed to amplify our impact on public policy by focusing on our common fellowship and desire to build a world where all workers are healthy and safe. In the meantime, if you’d like to join AIHA’s government relations committee, please email me or call me at (703) 846-0730.
Mark Ames, AIHA Director of Government Relations