The famous San Antonio River Walk is a mecca for tourists and a cool oasis during the summer. (San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau photo)

Conference Celebrates AIHA's 75 Years

San Antonio features gorgeous botanical gardens; restaurants, bars, and galleries along the famed River Walk; SeaWorld San Antonio; Six Flags Fiesta Texas; and a wax museum.

Each year, thousands of health and safety professionals convene to discuss trends, best practices, and concerns in the environmental health and safety industry as part of the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo. This year, they'll head to the 1.3 million-square-foot Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio from May 31 to June 5 for AIHce 2014. In addition to keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and special events—such as AIHA's 75th anniversary celebration—the event features new products and solutions from more than 250 exhibiting companies.

Here are our tips and tools for what to expect, both for those who are attending and those attending virtually.

Educational Sessions
With 137 technical sessions spanning more than 35 content tracks, there’s an educational session sure to interest every industrial hygienist and environmental health and safety professional. Topics range from aerosols to biological monitoring, ergonomics, confined spaces, control banding, green building/LEED, hazardous chemicals, nanotechnology, noise, toxicology, and many more. These topics are covered in a variety of formats, including general educational sessions, lectures, discussions over lunch, and poster sessions.

This year's conference also features a variety of special breakout sessions, including a June 4 screening of the 2013 documentary film "Blackfish," which explores the death of a trainer by a killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando. Other special sessions include "Pandemic Preparedness: Respirator Supply Issues" on June 3 and "Train-the-Trainer Workshop: Improving IH Exposure Judgments" on June 5.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association is celebrating this milestone anniversary with several festivities, including a cocktail hour during the opening reception in the expo hall, a historical display that highlights AIHA's history, commemorative 75th anniversary T-shirts, and a photo booth. Those with a competitive spirit can participate in the 28th annual American Industrial Hygiene Foundation Run/Walk, a 5K run/2K fundraising walk that begins at 6:30 a.m. June 3 and costs $35-$40.

Keynote Speakers
This year's conference features four keynote sessions that are sure to be lively and informative. On Monday, June 2, from 8-9:30 a.m., Peter Leyden, founder and CEO of Reinventors Network, presents an opening general session titled "The Next Tech Paradigm Shifts That Will Change Your World." In this presentation, he plans to discuss the digital revolution and what business owners and professionals need to know in order to stay ahead of the curve.

The Stewardship Keynote speaker (11 a.m. to noon, June 2) is Jennifer Nash, executive director of Regulatory Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her speech is titled "The Challenge of Product Stewardship,"with Nash discussing product stewardship best practices and the keys to engaging retailers and establishing partnerships.

NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, always a popular and entertaining speaker at these events, will speak on "Evolution & Journey to a Safer Tomorrow" during the 8-9:30 a.m. general session on June 3.

The final keynoter is Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium in Washington, D.C., who will speak on "Globalization and the Cost of Worker Health & Safety Worldwide" from 8-9:30 a.m. June 4.

The Leyden, Howard, and Nova general sessions will be broadcast live as part of the Virtual Conference this year, with 20 additional sessions included in that package, which for those signing up now is priced from a low of $325 for one day to $870 for all four days.

Alamo City Attractions
To kick things off, the conference includes a "Bienvenudo a San Antonio" welcome brunch June 2 at 10:30 a.m. so that guests can mingle and learn about the city. For those who plan to arrive early or stay a few days late, San Antonio has many special attractions. For history buffs, visiting the Alamo is quick and easy—it is only a few minutes' walk away from the convention center. Shopping fans can head to El Mercado downtown to shop for jewelry, clothing, and more at the indoor/outdoor market.

The city also features gorgeous botanical gardens; restaurants, bars, and galleries along the famed River Walk; SeaWorld San Antonio; Six Flags Fiesta Texas; and a wax museum. There are River Walk boat tours for those who have downtime during the day.

Looking Ahead
AIHA and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists co-sponsor the conference. Conference organizers plan to release The AIHce + Stewardship app in May to help attendees navigate the expo. The app will feature a Friends feature to share schedules and plans with other attendees, an integrated Twitter feed about the conference, and general session listings and exhibitor information so you can craft the perfect schedule each day.

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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