DEPARTMENTS
DIGITAL EXTRA
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
The Distinguished Service Award was established in 1978 to recognize recipients’ unique contributions to the advancement of industrial hygiene through distinguished service to the aims and goals of AIHA. The award recognizes an AIHA member’s excellence in service to the association and service in any aspect of industrial hygiene, including proven leadership in the profession; influence on public policy or social reform resulting in improved worker health; and public and community service related to industrial hygiene. The recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Service Award is Thomas G. Grumbles, CIH, of Houston, Texas. Grumbles currently works for Sasol, North America. He started graduate school in 1975 and landed his first IH job with Gulf Oil in 1976. He has been a member of AIHA since 1977. In three words, please describe how you feel about being selected to receive this award. Surprised, humbled, and honored. What significance does receiving this award hold for you? It’s very rewarding to have years of volunteer work recognized in this way. I’ve received a lot of benefit and value personally from the volunteer work I have done, and I’ve met many lifelong friends and colleagues through those efforts. I’ve had great experiences doing AIHA work at both the local and national level and this recognition is certainly icing on the cake. What advice would you give to a young professional in the field of IH/OH? In the world of technology, smart pumps, and iPhone apps, don't forget the “art” part of the “art and science” within the definition of industrial hygiene. By "art" I mean things like communication skills—learning how to talk to people at multiple levels of a company and learning the language of business to communicate with business managers—just the softer side of industrial hygiene. The definition of industrial hygiene now reads "the art and science of recognition, evaluation, and control," and I think it's easy for young professionals to forget the art when they’re focused on the science and the technology—all the “whiz-bang” stuff they have now to help them do their jobs. What would you say are your three top achievements in the industrial hygiene profession? That’s a tough question. When I think about it, I think more about the reason I got this award—the work I've done more or less for the profession or through AIHA—versus my day job, so to speak. But in chronological order, I would say one would be working to revise the professional code of ethics and associated guidance for the profession. I think it was 1982 when we did it the first time. Second would be working on the group that merged the two industrial hygiene journals. Not too many years ago, we had two separate professional, peer-reviewed industrial hygiene journals. One was the ACGIH journal, and one was the AIHA Journal. That just didn't make a lot of sense because [the profession’s] not that big. So we worked hard to combine those two journals, and it resulted in the journal we have today, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. The last and most current thing is being part of the development of the Product Stewardship Society. I was asked to be on the board that worked to get the Society formed, up and running, and doing what it's doing today—hopefully growing. Can you elaborate on your involvement with AIHA’s Product Stewardship Society and how you anticipate it growing over the next five years? I have been lucky in my day job to have the opportunity to implement product stewardship programs and procedures at Sasol, and to work on chemical industry product stewardship efforts. I have also been fortunate to have trade association resources available to help me do that. However, I know many professionals who have stewardship responsibilities but no single source for help and resources. I am happy that AIHA is willing to support the Product Stewardship Society, which aims to become such a resource for these efforts. Product stewardship efforts are a growing need for many businesses, and I believe the Product Stewardship Society can become an expert source for anyone with the opportunity to practice product stewardship.
Mark of Excellence
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AWARD Established in 2009, the Social Responsibility Award recognizes individuals, entities, groups and organizations who develop and promote practical solutions to social responsibility issues related to industrial hygiene or environmental health and safety. The recipient of the 2015 Social Responsibility Award is CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training, a nonprofit research organization committed to the prevention of illnesses and injuries among construction workers. Christina Trahan, CIH, the deputy director of CPWR, accepted on behalf of the organization. Trahan has been in the profession for 24 years, and CPWR has been in for 25. In three words, please describe how you feel about being selected to receive this award. Incredibly honored and grateful. How has The Center for Construction Research and Training evolved since its start? When we first received funding at CPWR to conduct research, there was very little attention paid to construction worker health and safety in building trades. The beginning work in our research program focused very much on surveillance activities—looking for novel and new ways to look at the industry and the workers, and the data that we could collect on occupational injuries and illnesses. The research program then evolved to trying to develop effective and proven interventions to reduce occupational safety and health hazards for construction workers. We've evolved more recently into not just identifying those interventions, but taking research that is done here at CPWR and elsewhere and trying to translate it through our “Research to Practice” efforts into information that is usable and understandable by the construction industry. In addition to our research arm, we have other major efforts that play into our mission. We call these efforts "service and training." Our training program and service programs really grew in the late '90s, and now our network extends to training 100,000 construction workers a year in health issues across general safety and health hazards through OSHA training, to specific environmental training like hazardous waste worker training for those engaged in hazardous waste work. We also have a huge effort in providing medical screening to construction workers who've worked at Department of Energy (DOE) sites around the country. Through this program, former workers who worked on DOE sites are able to receive medical screening for those diseases that are common and life-threatening. These programs are all funded through large multi-year cooperative agreements with different federal agencies. Our research is funded by NIOSH, our training is largely funded by NIEHS, and our medical surveillance program is funded by DOE. Can you elaborate on the five-year program that focuses on nanotechnology in construction? That program is very exciting. It's one of 15 multi-year projects we have underway in our current cooperative agreement with NIOSH at the National Construction Center. It's led by Bruce Lippy, who developed the mission for this five-year project because we don't know a lot about the use of nanotechnology in construction. [Part of the project involves seeing] what products are out there that may contain engineered nanoparticles—nanotechnology in another form—and to categorize and catalogue them. He's done a great job in that process; on CPWR's eLCOSH [Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health] website, we have a whole section that is the nano database, a collection of construction products that may include nanomaterials. But [the program isn’t only] looking and seeing what's out there. [It involves] trying to actively watch and see what's being used in this nation with nano-enabled construction projects, and trying to determine if the traditional engineering controls that we know are effective for other hazards are also effective in controlling exposure to nanoparticles in nano-enabled products. So [Bruce’s] project is challenging—it's new, it's cutting-edge, it's very robust, and he's learning a lot. It's one of our exciting projects. What's really special is that through Bruce's leadership, he's developed a very positive and collegial working relationship with our colleagues at NIOSH. He has also developed a network of contacts internationally, particularly in Europe where they are looking at some of the same things and trying to get some of the same answers in their own market. So we're learning and capitalizing on this great level of synergy of other people's work [related to] these relatively new products. And of course we're concerned about them because there is a potential, particularly for some of the nano-engineered particles, to be very hazardous to workers' health. We want to stay as far ahead of the curve as we can and see what's going on as these products start to hit the market and be used in our industry. What significance does receiving this award hold for you? My background is in industrial hygiene, and it's been my life's chosen profession. It's a great honor personally to be associated with CPWR and to have our organization recognized for the contributions we've made. We've done a lot of work looking at exposures over the years and communicating those results, and it's central to our mission. To be recognized by the world of industrial hygienists is incredibly humbling. [I also think this recognition will] help people learn about the work that we're doing, and it will help people connect with us. And we invite that through different ways. In particular, we’d like to hear from industrial hygienists who are working in the construction industry. We'd like them to follow our work and see them react to something that we create or put out. As part of our NIOSH cooperative agreement for the National Construction Center, we have a Small Studies Program, which includes one-year projects that we fund throughout the country in addition to our 15 core, ongoing, longer term research projects. These short-term projects look at new issues and things that are coming up out of the industry, and they can be pilot projects, intervention projects, opportunistic projects, or economic projects. We actively solicit people to submit research ideas and to learn more about that program. If it helps people in the construction industry hear about us and find the products of our work and use them to make a difference on construction sites, that's central—our core mission. We want the information to get out and be used in order to make change happen, be it reducing falls on a single worksite through our falls campaign or through a scientific paper or one of our direct publications that looks at the effectiveness of specific engineering controls. If we can get a piece of that information into the hands of people who can actually use it and make changes on the jobsite, that will make our mission of reducing occupational and safety hazards for workers in the construction industry across the nation.
Christina Trahan, CIH Deputy Director of CPWR, accepting on behalf of The Center for Construction Research and Training
Editor’s note: The Mark of Excellence is a monthly feature, special to the digital Synergist, that honors the recipients of the 2015 AIHA and ACGIH awards. Two individuals will be featured each month.
Thomas G. Grumbles, CIH
TGrumblesChrisTrahan
thesynergist | TOC | NEWSWATCH | DEPARTMENTS | COMMUNITY
DIGITAL EXTRA
DIGITAL EXTRA
What Kind of Near-miss Was Ebola? As I write this in mid-October 2014, Americans are still getting used to the new and scary risk of Ebola. Ebola fears led to a number of airline passengers being yanked off planes because they exhibited flu-like symptoms and had some connection, however remote, to Africa. So far they’ve all tested negative for Ebola. If that remains true, the number of such disruptions will soon decline precipitously. 
Are these events warnings that we should continue to take seriously, “casting a wide net” to reduce the odds of missing an actual Ebola case onboard? Or are they false alarms that we should learn to stop worrying about? Most experts, officials, and journalists say they’re false alarms. But that answer will change in hindsight if a traveler from West Africa ever infects some fellow passengers with Ebola.
Ebola also offers an object lesson in learned overconfidence. The discovery that two nurses were infected with the virus while treating an Ebola sufferer at a Dallas hospital raised many questions. Did the nurses breach PPE protocols? Were the protocols insufficiently protective in the first place? Is it realistic to expect healthcare workers to be 100 percent meticulous in following such protocols? 
One relevant fact: every nurse has considerable experience with breaches of infection control protocols that didn’t end in infection. And all too often the lesson learned isn’t that “We need to be more meticulous.” It is that “Infection control is pretty forgiving. Even when we mess up, it doesn’t usually do any harm.” Then along comes a much less forgiving pathogen, Ebola, and learned overconfidence becomes life-threatening.
Peter Sandman