William P. Yant Award

Tuesday, May 24 | 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM



Stronger Together: Working Together to Grow Industrial Hygiene and Tackle the Global Burden of Occupational Illness

Presenters: Roger Alesbury CFFOH and Stephen Bailey CFFOH, Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA), Derby, UK.

A decade ago, a shortage of industrial hygienists appeared to be evidence of a long-term trend. University programs were in decline, generating fewer new entrants to the profession. Recruitment was difficult, particularly in developing countries where rapid industrialization exacerbated the problem.

To prevent the estimated 160 million new cases of work related illnesses each year and 2 million lives lost to occupational disease required a massive increase in the number of hygienists worldwide.

Tackling such a big challenge demanded that the profession work together across international boundaries.

In 2009, the Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA) was established to help address this problem. With a multi-national team and backing from national and international associations, a framework for international training and qualifications was established. Peer reviewed manuals, training materials and qualifications were developed to fill the gaps at the entry levels to our profession.

A branded website (OHlearning.com) was launched in 2010, giving free access to OHTA-developed training materials and course information. A network of Approved Training Providers offer courses around the world, where and when needed. More than 5000 awards have already been made under the OHTA framework.

Industrial hygiene capabilities can be developed from the bottom up – particularly, but not only in developing countries. The program is designed to complement and promote existing academic courses and certifications and already a number of students have progressed to Master’s level courses and CIH.

This presentation will explain why OHTA was needed and how far it has come. Lessons learned will be shared and ideas for future collaboration and development will be explored, focusing on solutions rather than barriers. Globally the IH profession shares a passion. If that is harnessed into a global team with a common purpose, industrial hygiene can be advanced worldwide and the burden of occupational illness can be reduced.