Industrial hygienists flood Seattle

UW at AIHce
Marty Cohen staffs the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Department’s exhibit.

It’s a funny thing when thousands of industrial hygienists embark on a city for the national American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo! Suddenly, a profession that few people still understand, takes over. And as I attended the 2017 AIHce event earlier this month in Seattle, I was reminded how odd it is to see bunches of folks who share our sometimes odd sounding title swarming downtown.

For me and many others I know, it is the networking aspect of this conference that makes it all worthwhile. And we notice, every year, a few more folks drop out of the pack due to retirement or because they simply aren’t with us anymore. Perhaps that is why it feels more sentimental than exciting to me, as it once may have early in my career. I am, however, so happy to see younger folks joining our trade. Our Institute was pleased to join a number of others in co-sponsoring the University of Washington Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences celebration for alumni, friends and families. We appreciate the partnership we have with  so many institutions and organizations.

AIHce2017 presentation banner (1)Barb Epstien, fatality investigator/outreach specialist in the Oregon Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) program and Illa Gilbert-Jones, retired OR-FACE program manager, gave a presentation during the conference. The presentation was part of the session entitled “Topics in Safety” that also included talks on workplace electrical fatalities and a study of health and safety training in vocational education programs for automotive repair.

Barb and Illa’s presentation discussed the trends and patterns shown by OR-FACE surveillance data obtained over 13 years (2003-2015). Data were analyzed by industry, occupation, event, age range, and other descriptions. Data analysis revealed that four industries in Oregon consistently have the highest number of fatalities: transportation, forestry/logging, construction, and agriculture, with transportation having the highest number of cases during the 13-year period studied. Motor vehicle accidents lead in total number of fatal cases, followed by contact and falls. Audience questions and comments indicated a high level of interest in OR-FACE’s toolbox talk guides, one of the program’s most popular outreach publications. You can find a copy of the presentation here.

And for a little Friday afternoon sappy humor – fellow industrial hygienists- what stage are you?