The Story Behind the Story: I AM IH’s Jessica Hauge Shares the Voice of the IH Customer
In a relatively short time as an industrial hygienist, Jessica Hauge has made the most of the opportunities presented to her. Her IH internship with 3M in 2010 led to a permanent position at the company, where she now has a hand in developing some of 3M’s personal protective equipment. She has served as chair of AIHA’s Respiratory Protection Committee and as a Board member of AIHA’s Upper Midwest Local Section. She has also coauthored a paper on respirator fit in the healthcare industry, which was published by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, and she was featured in a video that is part of AIHA’s I AM IH campaign. AIHA recently caught up with Jessica to ask her about her experiences with I AM IH, what she likes most about her job, and where she sees the industrial hygiene profession heading in 2018.
AIHA: Could you tell us a little bit about who you are and your professional background?
JH: I find that many of us industrial hygienists come into this profession via “nonlinear” career paths. I worked for many years as a journalist and copy editor, with a focus on health and environmental reporting. After returning to school and earning a master’s degree in industrial hygiene, I managed projects related to conducting hazard evaluations, field exposure assessments, hazard characterization, and personal protective equipment assignment and fit testing. I joined the 3M Personal Safety Division’s Technical Service group five years ago. In this role, I conduct PPE-related research, provide technical support to customers using our respirators, and also provide “voice of customer” to our lab organization for new product development efforts. It’s a constantly changing and very exciting role to be in. Working with customers to help them is very rewarding.
AIHA: How did you first get involved with AIHA and the I AM IH campaign?
JH: I saw the call for submissions, which was basically an invitation to write about how cool it is to be an IH, and I could not resist—I can never resist telling a willing audience how much I love my work as an IH. Then a couple months later, AIHA’s Ben Rome reached out to tell me that my story had been selected for a mini-documentary.
AIHA: Do you attend AIHce events? If so, what's your experience been like? What do you enjoy the most about the events?
JH: I first attended AIHce in 2010 and was hooked—I’ve been to almost every one since then. I missed AIHce 2014 in San Antonio, because I was on maternity leave. But I attended AIHce 2016 in Baltimore while eight months pregnant! There are so many opportunities—to learn, lead, network, socialize, teach, and much more. I love seeing my wonderful IH colleagues from all over the country and seizing an opportunity to pause and catch up with them. We’re all usually so busy; it’s wonderful to have an excuse to sit down for a technical session with an IH friend I haven’t seen in years and then catch up over lunch.
I also have loved the opportunity to get involved in groups related to some of my special interests. Through my involvement with the AIHA Respiratory Protection Committee, I’ve met a lot of global colleagues and counterparts who specialize in respiratory protection, and it’s great to be able to collaborate to promote best practices and information sharing.
AIHA: You recorded a video for the I Am IH campaign with the AIHA team this summer. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?
JH: The experience was exciting and unique! I don’t expect to ever have quite that experience again—a camera crew following me around our office and lab spaces here at 3M Center.
It was a really exciting opportunity for two reasons. First, I’m thrilled to be part of the I Am IH campaign. I think it’s really important to promote the profession, to spread the word about who we are and what we do—both to elevate awareness of occupational and environmental health and safety issues and also to attract young people to the profession. My network of IHs is full of such amazing, talented, smart, capable, and caring people. As a professional population, we’re strong—let’s keep getting stronger!
And second, I was really excited to have an opportunity to tell the world a little bit about my work in 3M's Personal Safety Division. I love my job—it’s challenging and exciting, and I get to do my work on a global scale and apply scientific thinking in a way that can impact people’s lives. 3M is a pretty awesome company to work for as an industrial hygienist. Here at 3M, I’m surrounded by IH thought leadership. I’m lucky enough to have seen firsthand both 3M’s internal approach to the occupational health and safety of the 3M work force—which is a world-class program—and also our customer-facing approach to the personal safety business. Our Personal Safety Division has over 200 technical service application engineers, 300 training professionals, and 16 training centers worldwide, as well as local standards professionals in over 70 countries. I’m proud to be part of an organization that puts that much weight behind supporting the customers who use our occupational health and safety products.
AIHA: Looking forward to 2018, do you see any major changes coming to the IH field?
JH: Generally, I see a trend where the infusion of technology into all parts of our lives is driving a lot of change in health and safety. As a society, we’re expecting all of our experiences to be faster, more connected, and more intuitive—and our wellbeing at work is no exception. It’s a really exciting time to be contributing to the design and support of occupational health and safety equipment.
AIHA: What are you most excited about in the coming year?
JH: It looks like during this coming year, I’ll have some opportunities to visit customers and colleagues in other parts of the world, to learn about the health and safety priorities of our customers. In 2017, I got to visit China, and learned a lot about opportunities there related to the education of workers and OHS professionals. That learning enables me to offer better solutions to help further worker safety. I look forward to similar experiences in 2018. I’m also looking forward to co-teaching a PDC for the first time during AIHce 2018.
Berrak Sarikaya is a brand amplifier based out of Seattle, Wash. Follow her on Twitter.