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Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

SWCOEH 2021 Recap: IH Seminar Series

The Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) supports research, education, and outreach in occupational and environmental health. In 2021, the Southwest Center continued its ongoing support of research and discussion in the fields of Occupational, Safety and Environmental Health.

A longtime example of this is the SWCOEH Continuing Education (CE) Program’s Industrial Hygiene (IH) Seminar Series, formerly known as the Greater Houston Industrial Hygiene Council (GHIHC). For an inside look at the IH Seminar Series in 2021, and what to expect in the future, the SWCOEH surveyed several regular contributors to the Series.

“The IH Seminar Series (formally GHIHC) has served a valuable, local option for Industrial Hygiene Continuing Education for more than 50 years,” said Garlen Yeager, MPH, CIH, CSP, a Principal Safety Specialist with UT MD Anderson and the Bastrop and Smithville Campus Lead.

“The IH Seminar Series includes a superb group of IH/Safety personnel that use the forum for CE and professional development in order to maintain CM points for Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) and Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certifications,” said Jan Koehn, CE director for the local Gulf Coast Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).

“The Houston-based IH seminars are a place for professionals to keep up with the ever-evolving field of industrial hygiene,” said William “Bill” Young, CIH, CSP for the Gulf Coast Section of the AIHA and University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL). “The Seminar Series has benefited my career by giving me more ideas and better ways to approach and solve chronic issues.”

VIDEO: Watch highlights and full event from SWCOEH seminar series

“Many of my local colleagues and I have routinely attended these meetings for many of those years,” Yeager added. “The local Industrial Hygiene and Safety Professional community has benefitted greatly from this forum where industry experts collaborate to produce timely and necessary updates for a wide variety of IH and Safety topics. The subject matter of these sessions varies widely from general public health such as current developments regarding the response to COVID-19 to occupational health hazards including exposure to crystalline silica and hexavalent chromium.”

Koehn explains the formats within the IH Seminar Series: “The seminars cover a single current topic with multiple speakers, or a compilation of current sessions to address interesting approaches, for example -monitoring data with outlined sampling strategies and lab input for a variety of professional and technical occupational health and safety topics.”

“It is now more important than ever to collaborate in the fundamentals of anticipation, recognition evaluation, and controls of the workplace and public stressors,” Young said. “The Council meetings have been a place to greet the workers.

Even the most experienced IH professionals can benefit from continuing education. “In today’s world of information overload and biased perspectives, it is important to not waste time on chaff,” Young said. “The solution is never 100% effective, and the challenges sometimes will make us change our mind. Continuing education through attending the Seminars is an important part of being successful in today’s world of industrial hygiene.

“Great interaction is obvious among participants in addition to networking and further establishing resources and contacts to further help address future upcoming challenges in the varied fields of Industrial Hygiene and Safety,” Koehn said. “As CE Director of the Gulf Coast Local Section of the AIHA, this forum has been chosen and supported to help our members and colleagues remain current in an ever-changing and challenging future environment, at a minimum. The volunteer effort is extensive and professionally rewarding to establish and maintain lifelong contacts. We also continually support public health as well as all elements of occupational health and safety, and specifically industrial hygiene elements of recognition, evaluation, and control of existing workplace hazards.”

The Council meetings have been a low-cost option for professional industrial hygienists to gather and share ideas and network,” Young said. “It is now evolving to benefit and gain benefit from those not living in the area.”

“The Gulf Coast Section of the AIHA and the IH Seminar audiences, both longtime and new, have come to be great friends of the SWCOEH via these long-standing programs,” said Michelle McDaniel, BS, CHES, Director of the SWCOEH CE Program. “Our CE programming is evolving and expanding due to moving from mostly in-person trainings to hosting more online trainings over the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the teaching and learning communities to think outside the box and learn new technologies to continue to be of service to the OSH community, and to each other. I look forward to seeing everyone in-person again (hopefully) soon but we will continue our online expansion for CE training seminars and courses as we have been able to host guest speakers and learners that we have not been able to reach before. It has made a significant impact.”

The SWCOEH provides a variety of graduate-level training opportunities for occupational and environmental health professionals through our industrial hygiene, occupational and environmental medicine, occupational epidemiology, and Total Worker Health® academic training programs. For more information, visit the SWCOEH website, and contact the SWCOEH Continuing Education Program at [email protected] to discuss continuing professional education training opportunities.