Prosperity and Progress Through Safety and Standards

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September 6, 2022

If there is one thing the pandemic has shown, it is how resilient the American workforce is. On Labor Day, our nation honors the achievements and accomplishments of American workers and their contributions to America’s collective prosperity.

While prosperity is certainly one of the key characteristics of the U.S. workforce and economy, it’s also a by-product of associations’ tireless advocacy and desire to improve industry standards. To ensure the advancement and success of their members, associations have long collaborated with lawmakers and industry leaders to develop legislation, policies, and actions that have led to the implementation of important workplace procedures and policies that employers uphold across all industries.

One way associations support workers is through advocacy efforts. Take, for example, the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA), which represents 159,000 physician associates nationwide. The PA profession is one of the fastest growing in the country – expected to grow 31% between 2020 and 2030. PAs account for more than 500 million patient visits each year, providing high-quality, compassionate, and patient-centered care.

For years, AAPA has advocated for updates to outdated laws that prevent PAs from practicing medicine to the full extent of their education and training, which in turn has a direct impact on a patient’s ability to access care. In most U.S. states, a PA is required to have a formal relationship with a physician in order to practice. These mandated relationships between PAs and physicians weigh down healthcare teams and prevent the flexibility needed to truly care for patients.

Unfortunately, there are many state laws that hinder how and where a PA can practice. These laws - written decades ago at a time when healthcare and patient needs were very different - don't reflect the vast changes that have occurred in medicine since the 1960s and 1970s. It's essential that today's PA practice laws align with how medicine is delivered in the current healthcare system.

- Lisa Gables, CEO, AAPA

AAPA advocates for what it calls Optimal Team Practice (OTP). OTP occurs when PAs, physicians, and other healthcare professionals collaborate to provide quality care to patients, without burdensome administrative constraints.

To support OTP, AAPA recommends states eliminate the legal requirement that a PA must have a formal relationship with a physician, thus allowing PAs to practice to the full extent of their education, training, and experience. In addition, the association recommends authorizing that PAs be eligible for direct payment by all public and private insurers. AAPA also supports creating a separate majority-PA board to regulate PAs or adding PAs and physicians who work with PAs to medical or healing arts boards.

As of 2022, Utah, Wyoming, and North Dakota are the only states that have adopted OTP legislation. AAPA will continue to tirelessly advocate for the removal of barriers that impact a patient’s ability to access care, as well as a PA's ability to practice to the full extent of their training until OTP legislation is enacted in all U.S. states.

Another way associations are caring for the American workforce is by addressing workplace safety and standards. According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds and nearly each of these reported injuries have been found to be preventable. Whether someone works behind the desk in an office or the controls of a heavy machine, everyone has the right to safe and healthy work conditions.

For the oil and gas industry, safety is paramount when it comes to handling hazardous materials, like propane. Heavily regulated, propane dealers are required to follow specific safety protocols throughout the entire production process all the way through transporting. The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) ensure its members are properly trained and equipped to transport fuel over the roads and highways to deliver it safely.

Because our industry is so transportation-driven, it’s important that we stay on top of safety, regulations, and standards for our truck drivers and motor carriers.

- Christine Hutcherson, Senior Director, Member Services NPGA

In addition to watching out for its current members, NPGA is asking how can they assure the safety and protection of the next generation? Currently, the U.S. is in the midst of one of the largest truck driver shortages in decades, with an estimate of nearly 80,000 truck driver openings in 2021. Without action from Congress, trucking companies and industries that rely on motor carrier transportation will be left scrambling to fill vacancies of a retiring workforce, needing to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade. The growing shortage is affecting the transportation and cost of goods for all consumers, as shipping is delayed, and current drivers are strained.

In response, NPGA has joined 120 other associations in supporting and advancing the DRIVE-Safe Act – a bill introduced in early 2021 to answer the country’s massive driver shortage by promoting opportunity for younger members of the workforce. Formally named the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, the DRIVE-Safe Act enhances safety and training standards for licensed commercial motor vehicle drivers by focusing on one of the primary obstacles to bringing new drivers into the industry: the 21-year age requirement to drive in interstate commerce.

Under the legislation, once a driver qualifies for a commercial driver’s license, they begin a two-step additional training program with rigorous performance benchmarks. Drivers must complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time in the cab with an experienced driver. Every driver will train on trucks equipped with new safety technology, including active braking collision mitigation systems, video event capture, and a speed governor of 65 miles per hour or below. Since its introduction, NPGA has called for similar associations in the industry to join them in their support of the DRIVE-Safe Act, enabling the continuation of America’s domestic energy reliability and infrastructure.

Throughout history, associations have helped pave the way for American workers in nearly every industry. From normalizing the maintenance of safety regulations, procedures, and standards, to ensuring laborers have the tools and resources they need to be successful, it’s impossible to deny the role associations have played in changing the workplace as we know it. As we celebrate the American worker on Labor Day, we also remember the dedicated work and advocacy of the associations that paved the way to create a more prosperous workplace.

 

ABOUT AAPA:
AAPA is the national membership organization for all PAs (physician associates/physician assistants). PAs are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Trusted, rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals, PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice. PA has been named one of the best jobs overall and one of the best healthcare jobs for the fifth year in a row by U.S. News & World Report. The PA profession ranked number three this year in Best STEM jobs. Learn more about the profession at aapa.org and engage through FacebookLinkedInInstagram, and Twitter.


ABOUT NPGA:
The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) is a national trade association representing the U.S. propane industry. Its mission is to advance safety and increase the use of propane through sound public policy. Our membership includes small businesses and large corporations engaged in the retail marketing of propane gas and appliances; producers, wholesalers, and dispensers of propane; manufacturers and distributors of propane gas appliances and equipment; fabricators of propane gas cylinders, tanks, and trucks; propane transporters and service providers of all types. With a membership of approximately 2,300 companies in all 50 states, 36 affiliated state or regional associations, and members in 19 foreign countries. NPGA represents every segment of the propane industry. 

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