The Section’s 32nd
annual meeting was held January 17-19, 2007 at The Bay Club Hotel and Marina on
President Frank Parker opened the technical meeting Thursday morning. After welcoming attendees and guests he introduced President-Elect Hamid Arabzadeh, the Program Chair, who developed the program. Hamid reported changes in the program due to speakers being ill or "tending to pressing business at home". The Conference theme this year was “A Professional Crisis – Is There a Need to Reinvent Industrial Hygiene?” The format was a series of presentations on various aspects of the theme followed by an in-depth discussion with a panel consisting of YPSW members and guests. Following a brief overview of the program, Hamid introduced the first speaker and provided the following summary of the highlights of the meeting for this newsletter.
Fred Toca made the point that there is still a very
definite need for professionals who can anticipate, recognize, evaluate and
control hazards in the workplace. He
mentioned many occupational health (OH) issues have been resolved in the
Dr. Toca challenged the profession to penetrate the education system
and create programs for young people in high school – programs that excite
people about our profession. Author's
comment: What a great idea and
similar to one made by the author in
Ø Professor Soule approached this subject by raising a simple but profound question. Where have all the mentors gone? He pointed out that today’s IHs leave their academic programs with strong book knowledge but without a lot of experiential knowledge. Further, he pointed out very few graduates actually practice IH. Instead they are more of a generalist practicing in the full arena of EHS.
Professor Soule went on to explain the advantage of this mentoring approach included the reality of an “up close and personal” learning experience for the person new to the profession. The mentoring, particularly when practiced with recognized objectives and structured outcomes for the process, is relevant and applicable to the setting in which the mentoring takes place. Mastery of the associated skills demonstrates when the mentoree is able to undertake projects without the direct involvement of the mentor.
Unfortunately, with the increasing demands on the experienced industrial hygienist and the expanding scope of coverage as IHs take on ESH responsibilities, the practice of mentoring
new IHs is all but disappearing.
Ø Robert Bacci was a breath of fresh air given his young age and already broad responsibilities.
He repositioned the issue suggesting the profession may be feeling the pressures of emerging opportunities for the IH profession. He introduced and discussed the concept of the “IH Business Partner” as it relates to our need to respond and the needs of businesses today. Challenges of pushing for H&S to become part the cultural fabric of organizations, encouraging senior management to support initiatives from the top down, and early engagement of the industrial hygienist continue to be struggles for many practicing professionals today.
He highlighted that a challenge is effectively communicating with executive management in business terms. While ethics remain a core tenant of how we manage within our profession, Robert underscored the importance of understanding not only the culture of a company, which in many cases, is only influenced by the leaders, but the business strategy. Being able to communicate the message of industrial hygiene in terms that are understood by business leaders is critical for our continued integration into the business. The value of the profession study that is being launched by the AIHA and contracted through EG&S and ORC signals a considerable move in this direction. The outputs of these efforts and how their implementation is managed may be key for businesses to understand the value that the profession brings, may invigorate practicing IHs, and open new doors for many looking for opportunities in the sciences.
Ø Dr. Rick Fulwiler raised two questions. First, is the identity of IH in crisis and second, is the professional practice of IH in crisis? He suggested that the identity of the terms “industrial hygiene and industrial hygienist” are in a crisis state since their use is becoming less and less frequent. This, of course, is due to the integration phenomenon where 20 years ago the terms were broadly used, then about 10 – 15 years ago there was an integration of IH and S so the term of the day was H&S, and in the last 10 years further integration or compression has occurred so the current term is EHS.
Rick’s answer for his second questions – Is the professional practice of IH in crisis? Is a “no”, but it is a qualified no. The professional practice of IH is not in crisis IF the profession responds to the changing demographic of today and tomorrow, e.g., less manufacturing in the US, a global economy, increased service based industry and the rapid advances in the application of scientific discoveries. It is also a “no” IF the IH profession responds to today’s critical issues e.g. pandemic threats, terrorism and emergency preparedness, wellness or presenteeism and new technologies such as nanotechnology and bioengineering.
Ø Conclusion: Four points need to be made as we deal with whether or not our profession is in crisis.
1. We need to attract bright, young students into our profession. The concept and principles and methods of IHs are essential for new technologies and developing countries.
2. We need to revitalize the concept of mentoring so your future IHs entering the profession
can be even more successful.
3. Today’s professionals need to be business partners but not forgetting that our primary professional/ethical responsibility is the protection of people inside and outside of the fence line. Having said this we need to be able to express IH outputs as business outputs.
4. There is no question the terms industrial hygiene and industrial hygienist are losing visibility given the transition from IH to H&S to EHS professional. Are the term industrial hygiene and the title industrial hygienist of critical importance?
5. What do you think? We would like to hear from you. Contact Rick with your ideas – his contact information is in your current YPSW Membership Book.
The recipient of the 2007 YPSW George and Florence Clayton Award, Jas Singh, was very appreciative of the Section's acknowledgement of his many years of notable achievements in the field of industrial hygiene. His acceptance speech was gracious with a great touch of humor, and was greeted with a round of applause. Mary, Jas's wife, was present for this special occasion.
CHANGE OF YPSW OFFICERS
Thanks to Bob Soule, who spent one year as President-Elect, another as President and the last year as Past-President. Thanks to Herschel Hobson for his three-year term on the Executive Committee as a Director.