2016 AIHA ELECTIONS
Harry J. Beaulieu, PhD, CIH, CSP, FAIHA President Industrial Hygiene Resources, Ltd. Boise, Idaho
AIHA has volunteers and staff with energy and focus that make it the essential resource for the protection of worker health. The content strategy vision of 2013 started this process by identifying discovery, research, development and evaluation as salient topics. Our strategic plan of 2015 continues that evolution of AIHA and is entitled “sharper focus and greater impact.” With that vision and strategy, AIHA has a unique combination of volunteer leaders and staff that industrial hygienists trust to keep them current, connected and credible. Our members are engaged with, and contribute selflessly to, AIHA as subject matter experts. The working relationship between our volunteer members and staff is a healthy partnership. When I search a technical industrial hygiene related-topic and find an AIHA-sponsored source, I have a sense of comfort knowing it will likely be impartial, thorough, and professional. Members and non-members alike quickly recognize the validity and balance of material produced by AIHA as credible and trustworthy. Our material can quickly be differentiated from the barrage of information found on the Internet. Our members have the training and experience that make their material so much more credible than Google search. Trust in a source of information comes from confirmation of balance and truth, and a good experience in delivery. AIHA is that essential resource for industrial hygiene.
Cynthia A. Ostrowski, MS, CIH, FAIHA Principal CAO Consulting, LLC Rochester Hills, Mich.
Based on priorities identified in the strategic plan, AIHA must continue its efforts to collaborate with other organizations and professionals. These alliances will identify strengths and weaknesses among the participants to develop a well-rounded approach to provide resources that assist in protecting the health of workers and the community. AIHA must strive to be recognized as the premier resource to these partners, as well as to business and the general public. AIHA’s development of a content portfolio will enhance its reputation as the premier resource. The content portfolio is strategic in its identification of current and future issues affecting health and safety. It allows AIHA to make the best use of its staff, monetary funds and its most valuable asset: its volunteers. Based on this portfolio, AIHA must continue to develop education, training, publications and other resources that advance the science of industrial hygiene. These resources should assist occupational health professionals at different stages in their careers, including those that have transitioned into other arenas. Additionally, these resources should be designed to assist individuals without a traditional industrial hygiene background to effectively address health and safety concerns, and perhaps provide a path toward certification. It must have flexibility to accommodate new technology, standards and evolving health and safety challenges, so individuals can be successful in protecting workers and the community.
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.