Workgroup Releases Statement on Infection Control Practices in Healthcare
A workgroup comprising members of AIHA and the American Public Health Association has produced a statement that urges CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) to “significantly strengthen” guidelines for preventing transmission of pathogens in healthcare settings.
The statement is in response to draft guidelines on isolation precautions that HICPAC submitted to CDC for review in November 2023. Several organizations, including AIHA, had criticized the guidelines as less protective for healthcare workers than current practice.
The guidelines were expected to be approved by CDC and published in the Federal Register. But in January, the agency returned the draft to HICPAC and directed it to address four sets of questions related to concerns raised by stakeholders. CDC asked for several clarifications, including whether N95 respirators should be recommended for all air-transmitted pathogens. A post to CDC’s Safe Healthcare Blog explains CDC’s concerns.
The statement produced by the AIHA-APHA workgroup identifies elements of infection prevention for HICPAC to consider when responding to CDC’s questions. According to the workgroup, the guidelines should be revised to acknowledge that many factors contribute to the transmission of pathogens; that infectious viral particles can travel long distances; and that engineering controls, work-practice controls, and personal protective equipment are all necessary to prevent aerosol transmission.
The workgroup also identified a need for HICPAC to clarify that employers and healthcare facilities, not workers, are responsible for infection prevention. The guidelines should reflect the expertise of aerosol scientists, industrial hygienists, and other experts, according to the statement.
One much-criticized element of the draft guidelines was its recommendation that healthcare workers wear surgical masks in situations where science indicates that N95 respirators are necessary. According to the workgroup’s statement, “The guidelines should not try to redefine surgical masks as acceptable inhalation protection.”
The workgroup’s statement and a background document are available as PDFs.
BGC Extends CIH Exam Window, Announces New Credentials
The Board for Global EHS Credentialing (BGC) has extended the Certified Industrial Hygienist examination window for Spring 2024, according to a statement emailed by BGC to exam applicants and posted to LinkedIn by Bowen EHS, a provider of online continuing education. The statement cites “unforeseen circumstances with the switching of testing providers” for the change, which shifts the examination period from April-May to May-July 2024. For more information, read Bowen’s post.
BGC also announced the launch of two new credentials: Environment, Health, and Safety Associate (EHSA) and Environment, Health, and Safety Professional (EHSP). These new certifications will be offered starting in late summer 2024, according to a notice posted to the BGC website.
According to BGC, an EHSA credential signifies “knowledge of technology and scientific principles used to evaluate, protect, manage, and enhance the health and safety of people and the environment,” while holders of the EHSP credential are certified in the application of this knowledge. Both EHSAs and EHSPs must be informed about OEHS hazards and risks and their effects on the environment, sustainability, regulatory and voluntary standards, and risk mitigation.
To qualify for the EHSA, practitioners must have a combined four years of education and experience. The EHSP requires at least five years of experience as well as a bachelor of science degree in a STEM field.
For more information, visit the BGC webpages for the EHSA and the EHSP.
Board of Directors Approves MOUs, New Committee At its March meeting, AIHA’s Board of Directors approved memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with ASHRAE and the National Safety Council.
The MOU with NSC is effective through the end of 2024. The two organizations agreed to share each other’s knowledge products with their memberships and to explore opportunities for webinars and other projects of mutual benefit.
Details of the MOU with ASHRAE were not available at press time.
The Board also approved the formation of the Military and Uniformed Services Support Committee. The committee comprises active-duty service members, veterans, Department of Defense civilians, and others connected to or interested in the military, including military spouses, significant others, and adult children of military parents.
Help AIHA Determine Demand for OEHS Professionals AIHA has launched a survey to assess OEHS hiring trends in the United States. Because the survey is intended to be completed by individuals who hire OEHS professionals, members are asked to share the survey link with their employers and clients. The survey is available online.
Developed by AIHA’s Academic Advisory Group, the survey builds upon one conducted by NIOSH in 2011, which forecast that demand for OEHS services would far exceed the number of professionals qualified to provide them. At the time, NIOSH found that employers planned to hire more than twice as many OEHS professionals as were expected to graduate from universities in the U.S.
The AIHA survey asks employers and clients to indicate how many OEHS professionals they plan to hire within the next three years. Survey respondents are also asked to explain challenges they face retaining and recruiting new talent.
The survey will remain open for several months. Partnering organizations are also planning to distribute the survey to ensure the widest possible reach.
AIHA Accolades Congratulations to all competitors in the 2024 Safety Olympics and especially to first-place finishers Montana Technological University and team coach Lorri A. Birkenbuel, CSP, CIH, CIT. The event was held Feb. 29 and March 1 at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Teams competed in events that tested students’ general safety knowledge and their skills in hazard recognition, safety innovation, preparation of presentations, and incident investigation. In addition to MTU and SEOSU, participating universities were Collin College, College of the Mainland, Pittsburg State University, and the University of Central Missouri. For more information, see the press release from MTU and the competition website.
Uber announced in March that John L. Henshaw, CIH, FAIHA, would join the company’s Safety Advisory Board. A past president of AIHA, Henshaw served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA from 2001 through 2004. He is currently president of John Henshaw and Associates Inc. For more information, visit Uber's website.
Complete Survey on Waterborne Pathogen Training by May 13 AIHA has launched a survey to identify the educational needs, gaps in current knowledge, and training preferences among professionals whose work involves protecting employees and communities from waterborne pathogens. The survey is available online and will be open until May 13.
Information from the survey will be used to establish fundamental and advanced training for technicians and professionals who perform risk assessments, collect samples from building water systems, and interpret the results of sampling.
The survey was prompted by increasing incidence of Legionnaires’ disease and other waterborne diseases. According to CDC, reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease rose almost 900 percent between 2000 and 2018. The agency also warns that the disease is likely under-diagnosed and that the true incidence may be more than two times greater than reported.
Catalyst Moves to New Platform In April, AIHA’s online member discussion forum, Catalyst, relaunched on the Juno platform. Juno will allow AIHA committees to conduct virtual meetings within the platform instead of relying on a third-party provider. This feature is slated to go live in June. More information about the meetings feature is available from the Catalyst homepage at Members can still navigate to Catalyst using the navigation on but should update their bookmarks.
In Memoriam William Summerfield Everett Jr. passed away March 5 at the age of 92. His professional experience included working as an industrial hygienist for Union Carbide at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Later, he became corporate industrial hygienist for Union Carbide. He also served on the AIHA Tennessee Valley Local Section board of directors. Read more about Everett’s life in The Oak Ridger.
Share Ideas for Board Discussion A form on AIHA’s website allows individuals to suggest topics they would like the association’s Board of Directors to address. The form can be accessed on AIHA’s website. The form is also intended to collect information on issues about which the Board should be aware.
The next Board meeting is scheduled for May 19 during AIHA Connect 2024 in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about the Board, visit the AIHA website.
Dates and Deadlines
May 8 AIHA University Webinar: “Keeping Pace With the AI Revolution: The Role of the OSH Professional.”
May 20–22 AIHA Connect 2024 in Columbus, Ohio.
May 23–26 Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene” in Westerville, Ohio.
June 9–13 IOHA International Scientific Conference in Dublin, Ireland.
July 10 AIHA University Webinar: “Navigating Metrics for Workplace Safety and Health.”
For a complete list of events, visit AIHA's website.