We were excited to be a part of the 2017 American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition (AIHce) held in Seattle from June 4-7. This conference allowed us the opportunity to make and maintain connections with our clients and colleagues and see the newest trends in the world of industrial hygiene.
Our top takeaways from the event involved recent silica regulatory changes, noise in the workplace, and airborne contaminants from vaping. These insights come from experts in the field both on-stage and at our booth.
OSHA’s Silica Ruling Uncertainty
Because silica particles in concrete and stone can harm the lungs of the workers who drill, cut, or crush it, in 2016 OSHA determined that companies need to decrease airborne silica exposure for their workers. However, enforcement of this regulation has been delayed, and there is some uncertainty about what health & safety managers need to do to ensure they are in compliance – Antea Group recommends not delaying assessments to evaluate worker exposures. While silica was a hot topic at the event, the unusual lack of OSHA representatives as keynote speakers or participants left some feeling uncertain of what to expect from OSHA and other federal agencies.
We all Hear it: Noise in the Workplace
Noise in the workplace can cause lifelong damage to hearing (including long-term hearing loss, tinnitus, etc.), and as such, noise issues are coming more and more to the forefront of industrial hygiene conversations. While hearing loss doesn’t often make headlines, many workers are exposed to extremely high noise levels every day, so companies need to understand their obligations and take preventative measures. Whether you are sitting in an office or laying concrete on a highway, noise is a concern for everybody. Implementing new strategies to avoid extremely loud noise sources in the workplace is longstanding goal that was brought to light again at the conference.
Caution for Airborne Contaminants in E-Cigarettes
You might have seen an uptick in people using e-cigarettes instead of regular cigarettes (this is called vaping), and while it has been around for several years, it’s only recently come to the attention of industrial hygienists. AIHA held a session on the potential risks and hazards associated with vaping and their output of indoor airborne aerosols. As the popularity of vaping grows, more studies must be done to evaluate the potential hazards that vaping imparts on both firsthand and secondhand smokers in the workplace.
We had an amazing time at this year’s AIHce – it was great to see old and new friends and learn about these trends. We gained a new understanding by attending several presentations as well as hosting our own booth – having conversations with everyone who would listen was a blast. We look forward to the next AIHce!
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