A common challenge for many industrial hygienists is getting workers to change their behavior. Even when the goal is to improve safety and protect health, arguments grounded in science and logic often aren’t enough to motivate change. As studies of scientific communication have shown, most people make decisions based on their beliefs, not on science. The communications most likely to result in changed behavior are the ones that speak to an audience’s beliefs.
For René Rodriguez, the opening keynote speaker for AIHA’s Fall Conference next month, influencing people’s beliefs is more than an effective communication tool: it’s the essence of leadership.
“Change, when approached at the behavioral level, leads to resistance,” Rodriguez says in a promotional video for his speaking services. Influencing a person’s beliefs is the way around that resistance.
Rodriguez, a professional speaker, leadership coach, and expert in organizational and behavioral change, will present “The Psychology of Influence” on Monday, Oct. 30, at the Tampa Marriott Waterside hotel. According to Billy Bullock, who is a member of the Fall Conference Planning Team, Rodriguez is a perfect fit for the conference’s focus on leadership and management.
“René has a long history of having influenced people, both managing up and managing down,” Bullock says. “[IHs are] dealing with senior-level management as well as influencing the people on the ground floor, the line workers we all have to protect. How do we sell them on participating in the health and safety program and following the procedures, wearing their personal protective equipment?
“René has worked with a number of large corporations as well as some government agencies in this area. He’s got a background in psychology. He understands how influence aids in leading organizations, leading growth, and he’s going to tailor his talk to our particular industry.”
Bullock adds that Rodriguez’s ideas will be particularly useful for early- and mid-career professionals. “A lot of mid-level and entry-level industrial hygienists don’t really get an opportunity to get much professional development in management and leadership,” he says.
Like John Spence, the business leader and author who served as last year’s Fall Conference keynoter, Rodriguez will conduct a special workshop that builds on his opening session address. The workshop will be held the afternoon of Oct. 30 and will teach participants how to build trust, loyalty, and commitment through communications, body language, and other techniques. A separate registration fee is required.
This year’s Fall Conference sessions are divided into four tracks: enterprise risk management and risk assessment, emergency response and preparedness, management and leadership, and emerging issues and international. Within each track are multiple concurrent sessions and one or two “quick talks.” Introduced for the 2016 Fall Conference, the quick talk format incorporates two twenty-minute presentations in the mold of the popular TED Talk series, each followed by a ten-minute question- and-answer session. This kind of direct engagement with speakers isn’t always possible at larger conferences, Bullock says.
The concurrent sessions have longer time allotments, with most presentations scheduled for 45 minutes to an hour, allowing presenters to explore subjects in greater depth. Among the topics for concurrent sessions are incident response synchronization, comprehensive strategy for chemical risk management, keys to effective risk communication, leading indicators for health and safety performance, additive manufacturing, and models for better exposure assessments.
Also returning from its debut at the 2016 Fall Conference is the AIHA Fellows debate. Last year, debate participants argued about whether the industrial hygiene profession should rebrand itself to appeal to a wider audience, particularly younger professionals. The lively discussion spawned several letters to
The Synergist
Scheduled to occur during breakfast on Oct. 30, this year’s debate will ask participants to spar over the future direction of AIHA. Should the association remain a “specialist” organization focused on industrial hygiene core competencies, or should it broaden its scope to become more “generalist,” encompassing more EHS topics and concerning itself with both workplace and community health issues?
readers are encouraged to weigh in early on this question: let us know your thoughts by
emailing the editors
. Responses may be printed in a future issue.
The professional development courses (PDCs) at the Fall Conference will again be held on the Saturday and Sunday before the conference (Oct. 28 and 29) and the Wednesday immediately after (Nov. 1). Many of this year’s PDCs are new to the Fall Conference, but several of the topics and presenters will be familiar to
  • Paul Hewett, author of the article “
    Easy Modeling
    in the April
    , will team up with Perry Logan to lead “Forecasting Exposures Using the New ‘Well-Mixed Room’ Models.” The course’s title refers to refinements to the standard equations associated with WMR models. For more information, read “Easy Modeling” and the papers Hewett coauthored with Gary H. Ganser in the January 2017 issue of the
    Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
  • Former
    columnist Thea Dunmire, who wrote several articles for the magazine on OHS management systems (OHSMS), will lead a two-day PDC on conducting OHSMS audits. The course will focus on the requirements in ANSI Z10, OHSAS 18001, and the forthcoming ISO 45001 standards, and will compare the three standards.
  • John David Krause, coauthor of "
    The New Age of
    " in the June/July 2015 issue, will join Dr. Hung Cheung, a Fellow of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, to deliver “Implementing a Water Management Plan to Control
    in Building Water Systems.” This half-day PDC will provide an advanced understanding of the design and implementation of a water management plan, including the use of environmental samples to validate the effective control of
    in various building water systems.
Other PDCs will be held on topics such as workplace violence, occupational exposure limits, nanotechnology, OSHA’s new silica standard, legal issues in IH practice, and more.

The main conference program wraps up on Tuesday, Oct. 31, with a closing session on “total exposure health.” The presenter, Col. Kirk Phillips, oversees the U.S. Air Force’s occupational and environmental health policies. In 2014, Col. Phillips launched a total exposure health initiative in the Air Force to institutionalize primary prevention in work, environmental, and lifestyle exposures.
Bullock explains total exposure health as the addition of exposure science to the concepts of the NIOSH Total Worker Health program, which promotes integration of protection from workplace hazards with prevention of injuries and illnesses.
“The classic example is you have someone who is a smoker,” Bullock says. “They come to work and they’re exposed to dust. You have compound issues for long-term risk to COPD and bronchitis. [It’s] similar to somebody who may be a heavy alcohol consumer at home, and they come to work and they’re exposed to stuff like toluene, xylene, some of the organic solvents. So the worker may have an exposure at work to things that are going to potentially adversely affect certain target organs, and then they go home and they continue to expose themselves to similar agents that target those same organs.”
Befitting a closing session, Col. Phillips’ presentation will also tie together many of the threads that run through the conference program. “We really wanted to have somebody come in who could take [the themes of] all four tracks, merge them together, and give us a recap or summary [of] what all this means to our field going forward,” Bullock says.
AIHA's Education Department estimates that attendees at AIHA’s 2017 Fall Conference can earn up to 12 points for certification maintenance. To register or view the conference program, visit the Fall Conference
is editor in chief of
The Synergist
. He can be reached at (703) 846-0734 or via
René Rodriguez
National Academies Press: Communicating Science Effectively (January 2017).
A Thank-you to Sponsors
AIHA thanks SKC and TSI for supporting the industrial hygiene profession by sponsoring the 2017 Fall Conference on Leadership and Management. Visit
for more information.
Following Last Year’s Rebranding, AIHA’s Fall Conference on Leadership and Management Returns
Managing Up (And Down)