AIHce EXP 2021 was held fully online May 24–26, 2021. Conference news from The Synergist is published on this page.

OSHA Introduces “Sampling Groups” for Analytical Methods
Three representatives from OSHA’s Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) discussed the agency’s efforts to update methods for industrial hygiene sampling and laboratory analysis in a recorded presentation delivered as part of Virtual AIHce EXP 2021. According to Phil Smith, director of the Division of Industrial Hygiene Chemistry at SLTC, the updates will benefit both field industrial hygienists and the labs that analyze IH samples by ensuring consistent procedures are used across laboratories for several of OSHA’s most used methods. READ MORE

IH Shares Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Event Response
On April 15, 2020, a rupture in a pressure vessel at a paper mill in Jay, Maine, caused an explosion that spewed wood pulp and other materials around the site and outside the fence line. When Sarah Anderson arrived the next day to help direct cleanup efforts, she found a scene of devastation: mangled equipment, scattered debris, and unstable structures. The incident caused no injuries or deaths, but the seven-month cleanup presented significant challenges, which Anderson discussed in a presentation delivered as part of Virtual AIHce EXP 2021. READ MORE

DIY Duckbills and Renegade Respirators: How a Hospital Weathered the COVID-19 PPE Shortage
When Dr. Devon Hahn heard about the coronavirus spreading through Wuhan, China, in late 2019, her first reaction was professional curiosity. A pediatrician and assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, she knew that several strains of coronavirus cause bronchiolitis in infants, which is the number one reason that babies are admitted to hospital. “Medically speaking, we talk about coronaviruses all the time,” Dr. Hahn said in a recorded presentation broadcast as part of Virtual AIHce EXP 2021. “Hearing about a coronavirus that has different effects on humans was, at first, interesting—and then it became terrifying.” READ MORE

OEHS in the Algorithmic Age: Closing Keynote Imagines Workplaces of the Future
New technology developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will forever change the design of workplaces and the way people practice occupational health, futurist and keynote speaker Mike Walsh told the virtual audience of AIHce EXP 2021 during the conference’s closing session on May 26. READ MORE

Protecting Minorities During COVID-19
As the country’s racial reckoning and public health crisis lurched along side by side, members of AIHA’s Women in IH Special Interest Group—including Subena Colligan, Jennifer Hsu, and Ivory Iheanacho—were discussing the effects of COVID-19 on minority communities, and they decided it was time to act. READ MORE

NIOSH Presenters Talk Workplace COVID-19 Vaccination
Leaders of the Essential Workers Team in CDC's Vaccine Task Force provided an update on workplace COVID-19 vaccination during a session that aired on Tuesday morning as part of Virtual AIHce EXP 2021. The NIOSH team also discussed the agency's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as field and virtual assistance that NIOSH has provided directly to employers and other jurisdictions. READ MORE

On-the-Fly Compliance: How a Major Retailer Protected Workers During the Pandemic
A board-certified industrial hygienist with GHD in Little Rock, Arkansas, Benjamin Chandler provided EHS consulting services to a major retailer with a large geographic footprint whose business included pharmacies and optical centers, many of which closed early in the pandemic. These facilities were vital sources of medications and healthcare services in communities across the country. It was Chandler’s responsibility to get them opened safely. READ MORE

Sinclair Lecturers: Workers Bore the Brunt of the Pandemic in the Meatpacking Industry
Journalists Rachel Axon of USA TODAY and Sky Chadde of the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting appeared at Virtual AIHce EXP 2021 on Monday afternoon to share the story of meatpacking workers who bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic as plant executives “sacrificed safety for profits.” Their talk was part of the annual Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture series, which highlights the importance of media in occupational safety and health. READ MORE

Late-Breaking Session Asks: How Can IHs Help Schools?
As school districts across the United States plan to resume large-scale face-to-face learning this autumn, a special panel joined Virtual AIHce EXP 2021 on Monday for a live discussion of the roles industrial hygienists can play in reopening schools and the barriers that could prevent success. READ MORE

AIHA Fellows Debate “The Totals”
Members of AIHA’s Fellows Special Interest Group offered varied and at times clashing perspectives on a key issue facing the OEHS profession: to what extent should workplace health protection programs attempt to address health issues outside the workplace? The session continued the annual AIHce tradition of “AIHA Fellow debates” during which recipients of AIHA’s Fellow Award present opposing arguments on controversial topics. READ MORE

Decision-Making Under Pressure: Leadership on the Front Lines
Perhaps best known as the man who treated Saddam Hussein following his capture by United States forces in December 2003, Dr. Sudip Bose received the bronze star for serving one of the longest continuous tours by a U.S. Army physician since World War II. During his keynote presentation, Dr. Bose turned his wartime experiences into lessons on how to handle extreme stress that attendees could apply in their lives and careers. READ MORE