Safety, Health and Environmental Specialist At Praxair



AIHce 2017 Update

Preparations are already underway for the 2017 American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition.    “AIHce 2017 will feature some exciting changes to the format of the conference. The updated conference schedule is intended to be more user-friendly and efficient; all education sessions will be 60 minutes in length, with breaks in between to allow attendees to easily get from one presentation to the next. AIHce 2017 will also include a variety of education formats to create engaging learning environments that actively involve participants. Education sessions will be grouped into tracks, allowing attendees to share the conference experience with those who are interested in similar subject areas…”  Excerpt from AIHA Release No. SPR-16-0825-01 


Things to look forward to in the new AIHce format:

Professional Development Courses (PDCs) will be held Saturday, Sunday, and Thursday (NEW for 2017).

Case Studies and Scientific Research presentations at AIHce 2017 will be 20 minutes in length, while full sessions at AIHce are 60 minutes.

Technical Session (60-minute) – These will address topics within OEHS and be delivered in any format from panels to workshops, interactive problem solving, and more.

Professional & Student Posters

Ignite (5-minute) – In an Ignite session each speaker has 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds, so the entire presentation is five minutes long.

Session Tracks – sessions will be grouped in to tracks within a subject area

Closing General Session on Wednesday afternoon

Committee Meetings will be scheduled in the early morning or at the end of afternoon to avoid competing with education sessions


For more information on the exiting new changes, visit


Complied by

Michell Coats, CIH, CSP, CHMM

Senior Industrial Hygienist

Mentee to Mentor

By Michelle Coutu

I’ve been meeting with my mentor for almost three years now, and we have now reached a point where we need to once again decide if we should continue our mentoring relationship or part ways. In the past it was always an easy decision–there were resumes to write, CIH preparations to tackle and professional relationships to navigate. This year is different, the decision doesn’t seem as clear cut. With the help and guidance of my mentor I’ve been able to accomplish all my goals and feel more confident in navigating problems when they arise.

Does this mean that I am done with being a mentee?

No, throughout my academic and early career I can name multiple people that I have turned to for guidance and I’m sure that there will be even more along the way. I am looking forward to more formal and informal opportunities to learn from others.

Does this mean that I am ready to be a mentor to someone else? 

Maybe, everyone is at different stages in their career and we all have support and guidance to give no matter where we are. The hardest part will be determining if you have the self-assurance to share what you have learned (which may come with time).

Every Mentee-Mentor relationship is different and each relationship will run its course in due time but that doesn’t mean the friendship or learning is over. It can be an opportunity for personal growth, exploring other interests, or finding another mentor. Mentoring is a continuous process that is designed to help people grow and foster new skills. Only you will know when that transition to the next step will occur but don’t be afraid of it when it does.

Committee Updates

SECP Outreach:

The SECP Outreach Group members have each been challenged to find and reach out to one school in which to conduct the “Safety Matters” curriculum. The group is hoping to present the material to the schools by the end of the calendar year.  Team member Laurie Vivekanand is working with the AIHA Eastern Upstate NY Chapter in Albany to coordinate various aspect of Outreach among the constituency of high schools and colleges within their area. Finally, AIHA member Richard Hirsch has reached out to the group as part of a consortium of California AIHA local sections that are trying to push the “Talking Safety” curricula into the state of California educational system.  Outreach group members who are California-based and are interested in helping out should contact Andrew Burgie.

CIH Prep:

The group is currently collecting feedback from team members on drafted survey questions about connecting mentors and mentees. The survey will then be sent out to team members’ local sections, allowing for the creation of mentor/mentee pairs that are local to one another. The group is potentially aiming to distribute the survey this fall, to allow for matches to be made before the Spring 2017 exam window.

Update by Pam Dopart

Getting Your Mind Ready for Certification Testing

By Steve Graham  CIH, CSP

Taking the ABIH Certification Test (as well as the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BSCP) exam), to have the privilege to call one’s self a “Certified Industrial Hygienist”, is a stressful experience.  All of the stress is self induced because as human beings, we want to demonstrate to others that we belong in the “club”.


Everyone I have known studies the ABIH Rubrics and takes advice from industrial hygiene mentors, professional friends and peers on how and what to study.  This article is not about references or new sources of study materials.  I would be out of my mind to think I had any such wisdom to present about study materials you haven’t already heard.  Instead, I want to give you elements of a study philosophy as you go through the process of studying and taking the exam.  These elements come from someone who has taken both the CIH and CSP exams several times before finally attaining those credentials.  Below are several “elements” of thought.  They are not standalone but interrelate.

Element one – Your aim is to pass the test and not to correctly answer all the questions.

This element may seem simplistic but all our lives we are driven to be the best; the “A” students or exceptional caliber athletes. Remember this – the CIH Exam is not a test for the best, but for you to pass a minimum required number of questions correctly.  The ABIH does not provide you with your passing grade or even a percentile placement.  So first, be honest with yourself and don’t think you will know or remember every possible fact.  The exam is made up of many multiple choice or guess questions from the various rubrics.  The number of questions per exam is set and those questions you do see are taken from a large library of questions that have been developed and refined over the years by your peers.  There is a process the ABIH follows before you see any exam question.   Questions are reviewed for relevance, but new questions are continually developed as the practice and knowledge of industrial hygiene grows and expands.  Remember, the correct answer may be the so-called best choice offered and may not necessarily be written as a correct textbook answer.


Second, in studying information remember there is a trade-off in effort or “time” expended to what you learn, remember, or recall.  Remember this. There are questions or basics you know will be asked so know that information.  I call these questions “freebies” that the test gives you.  There are also questions you can expect to be completely clueless in selecting the possible best answer from the four given answers.  No matter how much you study there is no hope of knowing for sure if you can run a specific calculation or know every text book fact.  For me, the example was trying to prepare knowing how to calculate BTUs needed for heating a space.  I considered this a question I would give back to the exam. The goal is to correctly answer as many questions as it takes to pass the exam so use your study time wisely.  You can give limited questions to the exam. WHY? …because it is not a test for the best.

Third, be honest with yourself to know you have put enough effort into studying.  Only you know what it takes for you to be prepared.  If you find yourself sitting in the exam and cussing under your breath about how you should have studied more, then you weren’t honest with yourself. You might also believe you studied but let your nerves get the better of you.  Not passing the test is ok and that takes me to the next Element.

Element two – Failure is not an option unless you let it beat you!

Ok, you did not pass the Exam.  So what?  Look at the statistics for the CIH exam.  In 2015 the spring pass rate was 54.2% and the fall period test rate 49.1% [].  My intention is not to burst your bubble before you even take the exam but to again prepare your mind for the task at hand.  Whether you are studying for your first time or for a retest you need to recognize you have these basic characteristics and use them to your advantage.


Persistence.  This is my all time favorite human characteristic.  No one is born an expert, an Olympian, or a CIH.  A lot of effort including failed attempts goes into any endeavor and taking the CIH exam is no different. Prepare wisely.  For the exam make a sensible study plan, stick to it and allow for variability.  Get a study buddy and start or join a study group.  Rely on others and be relied upon to do your part.  Repeatedly study the same material including using different study methods such as flash cards, notes, reading text, taking a prep course, using study software programs, holding study sessions.  Whatever it takes to keep pounding facts into your memory and answering multiple answer questions is what you need to do.

The end of the world is not dependent on taking and even failing the CIH exam.  If or when you do retake an exam you now have a step-up on others.  You know what to expect including how to manage your time better and mentally prepare yourself.  Again, be honest with yourself.  The only insult should be paying the test fee again and spending time to again study.  Don’t quit!

Element three – That CIH credential belongs to you and no one else! 

When you attain the CIH designation it belongs to you.  You earned it and only you will be able to gage what attainment pride means.  It goes with you regardless of your future employment.  No one can take it away although you can lose it for various ethical missteps or lack of maintaining recertification points.

In summary, remember that certification testing only demonstrates that you have passed a standardized professional test containing general industrial hygiene knowledge.  It is not a show of character, what your in-depth knowledge of specific subjects might be, what specific knowledge of practice might be for the industry you work in, or if you even like industrial hygiene.  Now gear up for taking that professional exam.

Melissa Rupert is currently the Director of Industrial Hygiene for SevenGen and Chair of the Students and Early Career Professionals Committee.

To Diversify or Specialize

By Elizabeth Handler

Many educational and career options can make it difficult for students and early career professionals to choose a specific path.  There are academic programs that offer very specialized education in specific occupational safety topics, such as Industrial Hygiene or Fire Safety, while others may offer the ability to study multiple disciplines in safety. With so many options to choose from, how does one narrow down the option to diversify or become specialized in one discipline?

Studying the current career market may provide some information of what employers are currently looking for.  Depending on the size of the company, their needs for employees may differ. Large multimillion dollar companies may be able to employ larger numbers of safety professionals and can afford employees to specialize in one or two specific disciplines, where smaller or medium size companies cannot afford an industrial hygienist, safety engineer, or other specialized employees. Companies in these situations will focus on finding an employee that is well rounded and able to address different aspects of a safety program yet still be effective. This also can be difficult because it can lead to an employee that is a “jack of all trades, but master of none” and may lead to outsourcing for assistance on projects or situations that are more specialized and require an in depth knowledge on a specific topic.

When I started to look at programs for my Master degree, I decided to go with a program that provided me a broad spectrum of safety fields. My undergraduate degree was in journalism and I did not learn about careers in health and safety for a number of years until after finishing my degree program. I worked a variety of odd jobs and started volunteering with a local fire department. Through that work, I started to learn about safety as a career option and eventually was hired as a fire safety specialist. It was at this time that I decided to reinvest in a new career and attend school.  I did look at a few different programs that offered both a broad spectrum of safety related course work and programs that were more specialized in specific disciplines. I finally decided that, because of my lack of safety background, a program that provided more diversity was a good fit for me, and ultimately would make me a stronger candidate to prospective employers in my area. This may not be true for all prospective safety specialists and it is important for each individual to weigh their options before choosing a program.

Elizabeth Handler is currently a Master student at IUP majoring in Safety Sciences.