The LEED-certified, 1.6 million-square-foot Minneapolis Convention Center features 475,000 square feet of exhibit space and 87 meeting rooms. (Minneapolis Convention Center photo)

Underestimated No More

The conference's opening session will feature keynote speaker Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, speaking on "Lessons in Leadership."

The leading industrial hygiene conference in the United States, the annual American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition, takes place this month in downtown Minneapolis—or, as Meet Minneapolis describes it, "the biggest underestimated place in the north." Sports fans certainly know about Minnesota's largest city, with the NCAA men's Final Four basketball games having taken place at U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, just last month. The stadium is located in what's called Downtown East and is a short walk from the city's Riverfront District and the Mississippi River.

AIHce EXP 2019, co-sponsored by the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists and celebrating its 80th year, will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center from May 20-22. The Professional Development Courses are scheduled for May 18, 19, and 23.

More on Minneapolis
Minneapolis is the larger of the Twin Cities and the largest city in Minnesota, with an estimated population of 422,331. May is one of the wetter months for city residents and visitors, with an average of 3.36 inches of precipitation on average; the month's average temperatures are a high of 69 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 49 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Minneapolis Convention Center is connected to the Minneapolis Skyway System, claimed to be the largest contiguous system of enclosed, second-level bridges in the world. The Skyway System connects 80 city blocks of downtown, making it easy to get out for a bite to eat or to explore the city, rain or shine.

Near the convention center are the Walker Art Center's Sculpture Garden, which includes about 40 works of contemporary sculpture art, and the Loring Greenway, which leads to Loring Park. Other sightseeing opportunities include the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Mill City Museum, which offers a look into the impact the flour milling industry had on the city. The museum was built within the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, the flagship mill of the Washburn-Crosby Co. (later General Mills). It was the world's largest flour mill when finished in 1880.

Minneapolis' public transportation system was named the 2016 Transit System of the Year by the American Public Transportation Association. The system includes the METRO Blue Line (serving downtown and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport) and Green Line, as well as Metro Transit buses.

Conference Educational Highlights
The main conference is scheduled for May 20-22. Professional Development Courses (PDCs) are in-depth, interactive, and formal learning experiences designed as opportunities to broaden knowledge, enhance technical competence, and teach attendees practical skills and tools for the workplace. PDCs are offered as half-day, full-day, and two-day courses covering topics in categories such as safe electrical work practices, chemical exposure monitoring, selection and use of PAPRs, confined space entry, noise control, assessing nanomaterial risks, and more.

AIHce EXP's educational program offers sessions organized into 26 tracks that include safety management, communication & training, aerosols, indoor environmental quality/indoor air quality, sampling and analysis, and sensor technologies. The sessions last 60 minutes and make up the majority of conference programming. The schedule provides 15-minute breaks between sessions to allow attendees to travel from one presentation to the next.

Highlights of the educational program include the "Hearing Loss Prevention—Barriers and Solutions to Success" presentation as part of the Derek E. Dunn Lecture Series (Monday, 3:15 p.m.) and multiple sessions related to the opioid crisis, such as "Fentanyl and Analogues—Occupational Exposure Hazards and Protection" (Tuesday, 10-11 a.m.) and "Case Studies in Opioid Decontamination and Cleanup" (Tuesday, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.). Tuesday also features a two-part "mock trial" on "Marijuana Employer Liability in Wrongful Death Case," with part one beginning at 3:15 p.m. and part two starting at 4:30 p.m.

The conference's opening session at 8 a.m. Monday, May 20, will feature keynote speaker Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy. Lohrenz, an author and expert in teambuilding, leadership, and strategy, will speak on "Lessons in Leadership."

The closing general session, "Reinventing Health Care and the Importance of Story," will be presented by Dr. Leslie Saxon, executive director and founder of the USC Center for Body Computing, from 3:30- 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 22. Saxon specializes in wirelessly connected implantable and wearable devices that treat and diagnose heart conditions and prevent sudden death. Her presentation will focus on the role of physicians in supporting the new health care narrative created by the use of advanced sensor technology.

This year’s conference will see the debut of SPARKtalks, which are described as a combination of Ignite and TED Talk presentations. SPARKtalks are casual and last only about five minutes each, accompanied by a slideshow. From 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, 13 presenters will give short SPARKtalks, sharing their stories based around the theme "One Moment in Time," with presentation titles including "A moment in time that changed my life, and why I now prefer to work naked," "Gold Shoes, Ear Plugs, and Coffee—Oh My!" and "What And Who You Know…Plus Timing."

AIHce EXP also offers attendees the opportunity to participate in technical tours, which give participants a "behind the scenes" look at OEHS issues in the daily operation of a facility or program. Each tour is led by an industrial hygienist or another safety professional. On Monday, the conference offers technical tours of window and door manufacturer Andersen Corporation, the St. Croix Sensor, Inc. Sensory Evaluation Center, and Orfield Laboratories, Inc. Tuesday's tour options are TSI Incorporated, Consolidated Precision Products, and the 3M Innovation Center, Customer Abrasives Methods Center, and Personal Safety Division. The Wednesday's technical tour takes place at the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus Bell Museum and Raptor Center. Attendance is limited on the tours, and registration and additional fees are required.

Convention Center & Expo Hours
The convention center announced in August 2018 that it received the 2018 Venue Excellence Award from the International Association of Venue Managers, recognizing the convention center as one of the five best-managed venues within the IAVM membership. The LEED-certified, 1.6 million-square-foot facility features 475,000 square feet of exhibit space and 87 meeting rooms.

AIHce EXP 2019 exhibit hours are:

  • Monday, May 20: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 21: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 22: 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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