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Occupational hygiene programs: a strategy for demonstrating the value to corporate executives.

Biddle-EA; Brandt-MT
Safety 2009, June 28-July 1, 2009, San Antonio, Texas. Session No. 607, Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Safety Engineers, 2009 Jun; :1-6
There can be no argument that the US economy is faltering. Overall, the adjusted gross domestic product-a measure of the overall economic strength of the nation-contracted at a 5.1 % pace during the last quarter of 2008. This represented the weakest reporting in 28 years. Business investment fell by just over 20% during the fourth quarter of 2008, marking the largest drop since 1980. The National Association for Business Economics stated that weakening market conditions and soaring commodity prices are squeezing profit margins at companies, and money is tighter than ever. Sadly, it has been speculated that unless conditions change, the current economic slump will be the most protracted since World War II. What this means is that now, more than ever, OEHS professionals must tap their business side, reach into the world of "corporate speak," and make the case to corporate executive management that critical OH programs are not only necessary, they're sound investments. AIHA recognized that in today's business environment it is becoming increasingly critical to the survival of the industrial hygiene (IH) profession that a strong value proposition is made to support IH programs and activities so that they can compete successfully for limited resources. Without compelling business value information, management is likely to view IH programs and activities as efforts that, while important, are not as high a priority as projects with a clearer connection to the bottom line. As a result, AIHA initiated a multiyear project was to (1) specifically study which mechanisms allow OEHS professionals to demonstrate business impact of occupational health programs at their organizations, and (2) create a strategy that provides the basis for efficient and effective demonstration of the value of occupational health activities. This project was a six-phase intensive study that analyzed the qualitative and quantitative impacts of occupational hygiene. At the 2008 AIHCE, new research findings were introduced, including an approach that enables industrial hygienists to demonstrate that, by protecting the health of workers and the community, they simultaneously safeguard an organization's license to operate and provide competitive business advantage. This new strategy was presented by the funding partners, the principle contractor, and the research team at the opening session and in separate training sessions. The most telling results came from in-depth case studies of select participating companies. These reviews provided concrete examples of ways in which OH activities can greatly affect the corporation in a positive manner and helped to refine the strategy using unique ways to evaluate the value proposition of occupational hygiene activities. This presentation outlines that strategy and provides an overview of the case studies that were developed to show the value of occupational hygiene programs and preventive measures.
Industrial-hygiene; Industrial-hygiene-programs; Industrial-hygienists; Surveillance
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Safety 2009, June 28-July 1, 2009, San Antonio, Texas