October 5, 2016 / Ed Rutkowski

Sneak Peek at Next Year's Synergist

For editors, one of the pleasures of magazinework is that we’re always focusing a few months ahead. Here in northern Virginia the weather only recently started to resemble what you’d expect from autumn, but the Synergist staff is already knee-deep into the November issue, with copy for December due in a few short weeks.

And as 2016 winds down, we’re turning our attention to next year. The 2017 editorial calendar is nearly complete, and next year’s Synergist is shaping up to be, in our eyes, one of the publication’s most intriguing volumes yet.

Work on the editorial calendar began shortly after staff returned from AIHce 2016 in Baltimore. To identify possible article topics, we drew heavily from the recently completed Synergist reader survey and from discussions with several officers of AIHA’s volunteer groups, other AIHA staff, and previous Synergist contributors. Metrics on our digital publications—not only the digital version of The Synergist, but the Synergist Weekly and Synergist Newswire—also helped us hone in on what our audience wants to read.

As always, the challenge in building the editorial calendar lies in figuring out how to cover a profession as broad and varied as industrial hygiene, with its innumerable specialties and subspecialties. Throw in the variations inherent in an audience that spans generations, and you have a nearly impossible task. We simply can’t cover, in the space of thirty-three feature articles (three per issue), everything that’s worth covering. What we can do, though, is try to hit the high notes: those topics whose importance cuts across several areas of practice and which appeal to IHs up and down the career spectrum.

Here are a few of the things I’m looking forward to working on for next year’s Synergist:

Series on exposure assessment. One of the questions on the reader survey asked respondents to indicate what they’re interested in reading about by ranking several broad topic areas. Exposure assessment topped the list, and risk assessment ranked third. So I’m pleased to report that several members of AIHA’s Exposure Assessment Strategies and Risk Assessment Committees are teaming up to produce a four-part series for next year’s Synergist. The articles will address these topics: the power and utility of mathematical models, models for forecasting occupational exposures, models for studying potential exposures from products in commerce, and models for responding to a hazardous materials emergency.

Special issue on emergency response. The December 2017 issue is developing around the theme of emergency planning and response. In addition to the article on modeling a hazmat emergency, this issue will feature a contribution about potential applications of occupational exposure bands (OEBs) for emergency response. AIHA’s Incident Preparedness and Response Working Group is helping us identify a third topic for this issue.

New insight on engineering controls. In the ranking of topics for the reader survey, “controls” was a close second to exposure assessment. So I’m excited that D. Jeff Burton, a past AIHA president who has argued that industrial hygienists should know more about engineering, has agreed to author regular contributions on engineering controls for the magazine’s “Insight” section. Burton has written several books on engineering controls, and his recent article “Troubleshooting Industrial Ventilation” has garnered the digital Synergist’s second-highest number of page views this year.

Continuation of the Z88 series. A group of authors who helped develop the Z88 standards on respiratory protection has already contributed several Synergist articles, including "What's New in Z88.2,” “First Line of Respiratory Protection,” and “Respirators for Oxygen-deficient Environments.” In 2017, the authors will show how Z88.2 compares to OSHA’s respiratory protection standard and will provide updates on the Z88 family of standards.

Next year’s Synergist will also feature articles on cumulative risk assessment, silica sampling and analysis, the possible health effects associated with 3-D printing, impulse noise in a military setting, and much more. The full editorial calendar will soon be available from the AIHA website. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on these topics. What else would you like to see in The Synergist? Leave your comments below, and remember that you can always share your feedback by emailing the editors.

Ed Rutkowski

Ed Rutkowski is editor-in-chief of The Synergist​.


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