DEPARTMENTS​
DIGITAL EXTRA
 
WILLIAM P. YANT AWARD Established in 1964 to honor the contributions of AIHA’s first president, William P. Yant, this award is presented annually for outstanding contributions in industrial hygiene or allied fields to an individual residing outside the United States. These contributions can include academic research, teaching, professional practice, solving major industrial hygiene issues, and service to professional societies. A complete list of Yant awardees is available on the AIHA website. The 2015 Yant awardee is Noel Tresider, CIH, COH, of Melbourne, Australia. What advice would you give to a young professional in the field of IH/OH?
  • Start early: there is so much to learn, you can never achieve it all in one lifetime.​
  • Seek out mentors and colleagues who can help you develop your skills and your networks. ​
  • Participate in conferences, committees, and working groups. Become an active participant. Be a player, not a spectator. Develop your networks.
  • Learn the “art” of our profession, not just the scientific and technical aspects.
  • Learn from other cultures.
What would you say are your three top achievements in the industrial hygiene profession? 1. Further development of the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) National Accreditation Recognition Scheme (NAR) in which IOHA recognizes professional certification programs of IOHA member countries using a common criterion. There were six IOHA-recognized schemes when I joined the NAR Committee and became Chair; there were 12 when I left. There are now 15 IOHA-recognized certification schemes in nine languages. 2. Involvement in the Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA, OHlearning.com). I have seen this grow from an idea among several hygienists to become an established training scheme around the world with more than 400 courses run in 28 countries and more than 4,600 exam candidates trained in various aspects of our profession. OHTA is providing training material in several languages and develops the knowledge of occupational hygiene in developing countries as well as developed countries. OHlearning.com has users in 199 countries. I am now a board member of OHT​A. 3. Involvement in the Asian Network of Occupational Hygiene (ANOH), the beginning of the Asian network to provide a forum for those working or interested in the field of occupational hygiene. Here people can seek mentors, help, and guidance, and exchange ideas. Many Asian countries do not have industrial hygiene associations or societies, indeed such associations may be illegal in some countries in Asia. The Asian Network allows all interested parties (individuals, government, and non-governmental organizations) in the Asian region to participate. What do you think is the importance of having an international association for occupational hygiene such as IOHA? IOHA is an “association of associations.” Its members comprise nearly all the occupational/industrial hygiene associations of the world (some 30 in fact). It holds non-governmental organization status with both the UN World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization. It has memoranda of understanding with like organizations such as the International Congress of Occupational Health and the International Ergonomics Association. What was your involvement with the Australian Institute of Petroleum’s Health Watch program? This program is the largest prospective epidemiological study of the oil industry in the world. It has been operating for more than 30 years and has provided valuable information to workers, management, and the general public on the health effects of working in the Australian oil industry. I worked for Mobil Oil Australia for 30 years, and my involvement, together with that of my oil-industry hygiene colleagues, was to identify the potential exposures of the work force in the Australian oil industry and rank these exposures—an essential element in any epidemiological study.
Mark of Excellence
WILLIAM STEIGER MEMORIAL AWARD ACGIH presents the William Steiger Memorial Award to honor individuals from the social/political sphere whose efforts have contributed to advancements in occupational safety and health. View the full list of Steiger Memorial Award winners on the ACGIH website. The 2015 Steiger Awardee is Garrett D. Brown, MPH, CIH. What significance does receiving this award hold for you? The significance of the award for me is a much appreciated recognition of the work that I have done with like-minded colleagues over the last 20 years, and a recognition of the importance of a worker-centered approach to OHS that affirms that effective OHS programs are impossible without informed, knowledgeable, and active workers participating in the process from start to finish. What advice can you give to a young professional in the field of IH/OH? The advice I would give to young OHS professionals is to spend as much time in the field doing inspections, IH surveys, and hazard evaluations as possible; and to always talk to workers and involve them in this process. The more hands-on experience in actual workplaces you can get, the better professional you will be, and the more use you’ll be in protecting worker health and safety on the job. Any other comments? The one other comment I would make is that while the ever-faster advances in technology have given OHS professionals more reliable and sophisticated instruments and management systems, the key to effectively protecting workers on the job remains OHS professionals’ ability to productively interact with, learn from, and motivate the work force, from the worker through all levels of management. The human factor of OHS remains the key.
Garrett D. Brown, MPH, CIH
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.
Noel Tresider, CIH, COH
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