Donna S. Heidel, MS, CIH, FAIHA Industrial Hygiene Practice Leader Bureau Veritas North America, Inc. Health, Safety, and Environmental Division Research Triangle, N.C.
AIHA professionals must continue to engage students not only to discuss our profession’s focus on protecting human health but also to share specific examples of the impact each of us has had on preventing adverse health effects. As a profession, we are modest when discussing our impact in preventing occupational disease. It is time to embrace our contributions and talk with our next generation of IHs about how we advance worker health and the hard work ahead to reach our goal to eliminate occupational disease. Our youth are committed to careers that have a positive social impact on their communities, as well as on society as a whole. Our profession can fulfill their career aspirations.
Next, we need to showcase the contributions of our students and early career professionals at AIHce, Fall Conference, and local section meetings and conferences by inviting them to the podium with us to present their unique perspectives on current IH topics.
Finally, each of us needs to reach beyond our comfort zone of speaking only to each other. Discussing our role in safely launching new products and commissioning new processes with scientists, engineers, and managers will engage a whole new group of students and early career professionals in the value of our profession.
Alan Leibowitz, CIH, CSP President EHS Systems Solutions Alexandria, Va.
We can do more to generate enthusiasm for the profession among science-minded individuals throughout their education and career paths. We have already taken some strong steps in that direction with a variety of activities including the well-respected Future Leaders Institute and our work on the Safety Matters program, but we can do more.
First, we ask our future leaders to provide guidance on how to best appeal to their generation. Then we engage outside thought leaders to assist with targeted messaging.
Second, we go where potential young members are. Whether on social media and other interactive platforms or in schools and community events, the more we spread the word about IH the better. Venue and content are important no matter what age group we are working to connect with, and no one solution will fit every need.
Finally, we must keep new members engaged once they touch our programs. Our mentorship initiatives are a good start, but even more direct contact and making useful material available at low or no cost can help make AIHA their association of choice. Better managing volunteer engagement to provide interesting projects and social opportunities will make us the place where individuals choose to spend their limited volunteer time. We will offer a vibrant creative space that is attractive to our next generation.
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