2016 AIHA ELECTIONS
Jeffrey W. Gifford, MS, CIH, CSP Vice President, HSSE Genesis Energy, LP Houston, Texas AIHA will continue to be the essential resource for worker health protection by aligning the benefits of membership with a broad, evolving, and dynamic professional population. The days of pure industrial hygiene practice are waning, but the underlying concepts of anticipating, identifying, evaluating, and effectively controlling risk to worker health and safety are enduring. Enterprises and societies need talented occupational health scientists to protect the work force, sustain productivity, and enhance quality of life. AIHA must creatively explore ways to provide content and educational opportunities to professionals who are assuming broader responsibilities with fewer resources. From my individual perspective, advancing content that continues to engage experienced professionals throughout their career is particularly challenging. I’ve heard many of my contemporaries remark that there is little to interest them at conferences, local section meetings, etc. beyond professional networking opportunities. This challenge may be best approached by offering more compelling volunteer opportunities allowing experienced professionals to engage in the development of less experienced professionals, either through enhanced local section participation, teaching or mentoring opportunities, or through organized pro-bono work. In any case, the need for talented industrial hygiene professionals will continue. The challenge for AIHA is to be nimble, creative, and responsive enough to engage them.
Cathy Hovde, CIH, CSP Corporate Health and Safety Manager Caterpillar Inc. Peoria, Ill.
AIHA programs have aided my professional development from a technical and leadership perspective throughout my career. I’ve taken advantage of the traditional education opportunities, but I also benefited greatly from volunteering opportunities like joining a committee, supporting a project, joining a local section board, or leading a committee. During these opportunities I met and learned from amazing IH professionals, developed leadership skills, and learned how to work in an organization. These were volunteer opportunities in which I gave back to the community, but I gained even more professionally. AIHA is focused on building IH professionals throughout their careers in the United States and abroad. We have successful programs that should continue, such as the mentoring program and Future Leaders Institute. Additionally, we support the Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA), which directly focuses on improving the standard of practice globally through education. The partnership with OHTA is an example of another priority, pioneering coalitions. AIHA needs to continue to build partnerships with peer organizations to develop content and delivery models for the future of the field. We cannot be successful alone, but we can identify partners whose goals align with AIHA’s and work with them to advance the profession. By focusing the entire organization on mission-critical content, we can maximize our resources and more strategically align with peer organizations.
Joselito S. Ignacio, MA, MPH, CIH, CSP, REHS CBRNE Science Advisor & IMAAC Program Manager Response Directorate, Federal Emergency Management Agency Department of Homeland Security Washington, DC
AIHA’s leadership and active members will serve as an essential source for worker health protection. Active outreach to all U.S. communities and abroad should entail defining the IH profession, and providing current technical expertise on work force health. The IH profession is continually involved in worker health, but more evident than in previous years, with expanded roles in emergency management, homeland security, research and development involving non-industrial environments, law enforcement/security operations, and environmental management/protection. AIHA is challenged to meet this ever-expanding role that our IH profession has undertaken while serving the core competencies defining our profession. In addition, AIHA must examine and strategically plan its outreach to areas outside of the health and safety profession in order to show the significant value the profession can provide the public health in addition to work force health protection.
Donald Weekes, CIH, CSP, FAIHA InAIR Environmental Ltd. Ottawa, Ont.
The new AIHA strategic plan sets six goals for the next three years. Each of these goals will be achievable due to resourceful and energetic volunteers and staff who ensure that AIHA remains the critical resource for occupational health professionals. A quick look at these goals:
- An effective, interactive and accessible content portfolio focused on upcoming issues is essential for AIHA in order to continue to attract those professionals who will continue AIHA’s legacy.
- The benefits of AIHA membership must be clear to our members and enhance their capabilities to protect workers.
- Members have limited time and resources, and collaborations with other professional associations are essential for successful scientific publications, educational opportunities and consensus standards and guidelines.
- Volunteers at strong AIHA Local Sections will lead to future successful leadership of AIHA at the highest levels. Support for local AIHA sections includes access to Distinguished Lecturers and a fast-track process of bringing grassroots concerns to the Board.
- The careers of IH professionals and students can be enhanced by AIHA with support for early career professionals through to the senior management levels.
New communications means such as social media, webinars, online conferences, and live uplinks to AIHce will build AIHA’s brand and allow active participation by members. Achievement of these goals will benefit all AIHA members.
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.