Over the past several years, AIHA has conducted multiple education- and conference-focused studies including an Environmental Scan, Education Gap Analysis, and Conference Design Lab. This year’s Call for Proposals reflects the current needs of attendees, both topically and in overall conference programming. The following are several high priority topics identified, and we encourage you to submit proposals that touch on these areas:
Climate Change Hazards and Risks
IHs now anticipate the potential risks and the occupational health and safety hazards associated with climate change. A framework is broken into seven broad categories including an increase in ambient temperature - heat stress; air pollution (ground-level ozone and pulmonary toxicants) - respiratory and cardiovascular disease; ultraviolet radiation - skin cancer, eye effects, immune dysfunction; extreme weather - traumatic injuries, acute death, mental stress; vector-borne disease and other biological hazards - infectious disease, dermatitis, allergies/asthma; industrial transitions, and emerging industries - new chemical hazards, musculoskeletal disorders, mental stress from job insecurity; and changes in the built environment (energy-efficient tight buildings) - build-up of indoor radon and increased lung cancer risk, indoor air quality issues associated with off-gassing of building materials.
Big Data and Sensor Technology
New applications of sensor technologies are allowing for the faster collection and communication of data across a broader set of agents. At the same time, advancements in data analysis and Artificial Intelligence are combining formerly disparate data sets and automating decision-making. Together these developments will fundamentally alter the role of health and safety professionals. This priority focuses on helping IH professionals leverage cutting-edge technologies for collecting and integrating data to inform risk assessment and management decisions and to stay relevant in the face of transformative change.
Total Exposure Health
Human health effects are being recognized as the result of a complex interaction of factors including exposure to chemical, biological, and physical agents whether at work or at home, socioeconomic stressors, personal behaviors, and individual genetics. Advancements in science and technology are allowing for the more robust data collection and integration of these factors to inform interventions and decision-making. Data analytics, exposure monitoring, and exposure assessment all support evaluations of an individual’s total exposure health.
Occupational health and safety science professionals can bring their expertise in anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control, and confirmation of exposures to chemical, biological, and physical agents in the workplace, home, and community.
The continued addition of chemicals and other exposure hazards impacting the community and workplace far exceeds the capacity of the environmental health community to develop exposure level guidelines. As such IHs are often left with few resources to help evaluate exposures and make appropriate risk management decisions using traditional methods. In response, NIOSH and other entities have developed an occupational exposure banding process for use in exposure risk assessments. This priority focuses on educating IHs on how to apply banding concepts in evaluating exposures and controls across environments, and on exploring how they relate to technological advancements involving integrated decision-making.
Communicating OEHS Concepts
Increasing growth and diversification in information sources and communication channels are continuing to dilute the influence of science-based expertise. At the same time, public skepticism toward traditional experts is growing in the face of unresolved concerns and perceived biases as various advocacy groups leverage scientific systems for their benefit. These trends coupled with technological advances around data analysis and Artificial Intelligence to further diminish the reliance on scientific expertise. This priority focuses on developing the “soft skills” of OEHS to listen, relate, communicate, and collaborate effectively with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in order to promote the influence and value of the OEHS profession in the modern social-technological landscape.
Serving the Changing Workforce
People are increasingly engaging in nontraditional work arrangements such as gig work, contract work, telecommuting, and working for multiple employers. In addition, the workforce is aging, raising issues around health, chronic disease, and information processing. Coupled with global economic shifts and migration, these changes will significantly impact the evolution of occupational and environmental health concerns and how they are managed. This priority focuses on educating IHs on the circumstances driving these changes, the implications they will have, and how the IH community can respond to protect human health in the workplace and community.
In addition to the content priorities listed here, we encourage you to submit proposals that touch on current events. In the past, this included topics such as hurricane, earthquake, wildfire, and other natural disaster response efforts, as well as disease outbreaks like Ebola.
COVID-19 Pandemic Response
2020 and 2021 have been unprecedented and forced workplaces to change and adapt in ways they never have before. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage you to submit presentations addressing how the industrial hygiene profession has been impacted and will evolve, providing tools and resources for attendees to utilize in their daily work.
AIHA members have been hard at work creating and distributing resources. The Back to Work Safely website may also be helpful in providing ideas for case studies and education sessions for the conference.
As in previous years, AIHA will continue to offer the following programming and encourages proposals in these areas:
AIHA debuted the Academic Track to showcase the research initiatives of students across the country, as well as to provide targeted content offerings to students and early career professionals as they navigate their entry and professional growth within the occupational health and safety field. Submitters self-select their presentations for this track with a final review and approval by the Conference Program Committee.
Laboratory Sampling and Testing Track
AIHA has been considering adding a laboratory sampling and testing track to AIHce EXP that would offer specific content for members working in laboratory settings, as well as those interested in laboratory testing and standards. If you feel your content is specifically targeted to this topic area, indicate so using the checkbox question listed, which will assist AIHA staff and the Conference Program Committee in determining if this new track is warranted.
For a full topic list, click here.