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
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