5 trends in industrial hygiene
Report from AIHce 2016
ISHN noted these trends at the AIHce in Baltimore:
• Globalization is alive and well in EHS. Being promoted at the conference is the 2nd China-US Occupational Health Symposium, July 12-13, in Guangzhou, China, and the 2018 International Occupational Hygiene Association meeting in Washington, DC. Several expo vendors hail from China. The number of foreign registrants increases each year at the conference it seems, judging from the number of accents you hear in the halls and on the expo floor.
• “Easy IH” is one vendor’s tagline and it applies to the industrial hygiene field more broadly. Gas detection is increasingly automated and user-friendly – to the point some IH’s worry that workers with easy-to-use monitors and wearables will be left alone without sufficient professional IH oversight. “You still need someone to analyze the data,” says one IH. “Bad judgments about data collected can lead to deaths.” Traditional industrial hygiene has been defined as the art of anticipation, detection, evaluation and control. Technology may be taking detection out of the equation, at least to an extent, but anticipation, evaluation and designing control strategies still demand professional judgment.
• Pain management is entering the scope of industrial hygiene responsibilities. Several expo vendors are showcasing massage systems for pain in ankles, shoulders, backs, necks, knees, wrists and legs. We’re not talking about pain medications here. Rather, the pain relief products are derivatives of ergonomics basically, and are gaining traction in the marketplace due to the aging population.
•Career development is being emphasized. It’s clear walking around the conference that the IH crowd is getting younger. And young careers are being helped by resources such as developing a career portfolio – a visual representation of your skills, knowledge and potential. We do live in a visual age, one that demands more than resume-writing skills. There are also sessions on mock interviewing, speed networking, resume critiquing, and how to get noticed – interview do’s and don’ts and resume and cover letter tips. The American Industrial Hygiene Association also has a Mentoring and Professional Development Committee.
• Networking takes off. Conferences have always been about opportunities to network. But in the past networking was more informal, less organized. At this year’s AIHce there was a Sunday evening kickoff “Social” from 7 to 9 pm; the Expo Hall Networking Reception Monday afternoon from 4 – 5:30 pm; and the AIHce “Power Hour” sponsored by MSA on Tuesday evening. There was also a “Cocktails and Conversations” matrix in the final program listing 10 topics (toxicology, risk management, exposure assessment, etc.) and where these groups met on Monday night for one hour (hotel and location within each hotel).