Jenny Houlroyd Earns Doctor of Public Health Degree

 

Jenny Houlroyd, CIH, MSPH, DrPH

Jenny Houlroyd, an occupational health group manager for the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) Program, successfully defended her dissertation in March 2024 to complete a doctorate in public health (DrPH) from the University of Georgia. Her degree is from the College of Public Health in public health policy and management. Graduation is scheduled for May 10. The SHES program is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.

Prior to joining Georgia Tech in 2005, Houlroyd earned a dual master of science in public health (MSPH) from Emory University, focusing on epidemiology and environmental and occupational health. As a certified industrial hygienist with the OSHA 21(d) Consultation Program, she helps small Georgia businesses ensure that workplaces are hazard-free and workers are protected from potential health threats.

She also serves as faculty for the OSHA Training Institute Education Center (OTIEC) at Georgia Tech and for the professional master’s in Occupational Safety and Health program for the School of Building Construction within the College of Design.

“My dissertation was on respiratory protection,” said Houlroyd. “In health and safety, we follow a hierarchy of controls, and the last layer of defense is personal protective equipment (PPE).”

Respiratory safety ranks consistently among the top ten concerns of OSHA, and Houlroyd conducted a qualitative study focusing on the manufacturing sector. Through the process of exploring elements that might contribute to a worker’s reluctance to wear PPE, she developed what she calls the FACT model, which tracks fit, acceptance of risk, comfort, and type of respirator.

Houlroyd views her doctor of public health degree as an achievement that not only enhances her own skill set but also benefits colleagues and contributes to the greater good. “I’m really hoping that it helps my entire team open doors, to apply for more competitive grants and make connections with other research groups,” she said. “I really see it as essential for our team to have this kind of expertise in-house.”

Those doors are already opening. On May 16, Houlroyd is attending the conference Preventing Silicosis – An Ancient Disease in Modern Times: Silicosis Caused by Artificial Stone in the U.S., hosted by the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at University of California, Los Angeles, where she has been invited to speak on exposure and control technologies. “My doctoral program includes leadership training, and it gave me the confidence to speak up about issues that are important to me,” she said.

“At the Enterprise Innovation Institute, we are committed to making workplaces healthier and safer,” Houlroyd added. “We want people to go home from work to their families in the same or better shape than when they left. My dad got sick with brain cancer from exposure on the job; he died two years ago. I really do see it as a personal mission. We are saving lives.”

Safety, Health, and Environmental Services team discusses workplace safety at Georgia Capitol

From left: Bob Hendry, SHES research scientist and treasurer of the AIHA’s Georgia chapter; Jenny Houlroyd, SHES senior research scientist; Hilarie Warren, SHES senior research scientist and AIHA Georgia chapter president; Gov. Brian Kemp; and Georgia AIHA members John Moore, Stacey Brooks, and Kerry Ann Jaggassar.

The Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) group at Georgia Tech met with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and key Georgia legislators at the Capitol to highlight efforts in workplace safety and other issues related to health at places of employment.

 

The Feb. 18 breakfast “meet and greet” included state Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta), chairman of the public safety committee; Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Athens), chairman of its economic development committee, and state Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), chairman of the Georgia House Small Business Development Committee, among others.

 

A program of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, SHES provides broad range of occupational safety and health training, consulting services, and academic education to organizations in Georgia and across the Southeast.

 

“These meetings and talks with our state leaders was a great opportunity to speak with key legislators and committee chairs about the importance of promoting health and safety policies and programs that protect employees in their workplaces in our state,” said Hilarie S. Warren, SHES’ senior  research scientist and industrial hygienist.

Hilarie Warren (far right), SHES senior research scientist and AIHA Georgia chapter president, speaks with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (center) about health and safety issues and initiatives in Georgia.

 

Warren, is president of the Georgia Local Section of American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), which facilitated the meetings at the Gold Dome.

 

For example, Jenny Houlroyd, SHES’ occupational health group manager, updated legislators on her work with the Sustainable Workforce Alliance. That project is focused on giving the tools and training and access to training resources to help protect the health and safety of youth workers and educators in career/technical education programs throughout Georgia.

 

The Sustainable Workforce Alliance aims to highlight and address exposure risks of youth workers to prevalent hazards in the construction and general industries. The initiative also provides an understanding of worker’s rights and employers’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

 

Warren said they also highlighted Atlanta serving as host to the national organization’s three-day conference that starts June 1, 2020.

 

 

U.S. Department of Labor, Georgia Tech, and Georgia Department Of Public Health form alliance to reduce lead exposure

Paul A. Schlumper is SHES’ manager for the Georgia On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Safety, Health, and Environment Services (SHES) group; and Georgia Department of Public Health’s Division of Health Protection have formed a two-year alliance to raise awareness about lead exposure.

 

OSHA and its partners will provide employers, industry leaders, and the public with information, guidance, and access to training resources on preventing worker exposure to lead hazards in general and construction industries. The alliance will also emphasize how best to communicate this information to hard-to-reach workers.

 

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, usually over a period of months or years. Even exposure to small amounts of lead over time can cause serious health problems and children younger than 6 years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning.

 

lead danger signAccording to OSHA estimates, approximately 804,000 workers in general industry and an additional 838,000 workers in construction are potentially exposed to lead. Workers are exposed to lead as a result of the production, use, maintenance, recycling, and disposal of lead material and products. Lead exposure occurs in most industry sectors including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, remediation and even recreation.

“Employers who implement appropriate safety controls and procedures can help minimize employee exposure to lead,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator. “The Department of Labor hopes that this collaborative effort will be a valuable tool in our mission to keep employees safe and healthy.”

 

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA fosters collaborative relationships with groups committed to worker safety and health, such as trade and professional organizations, unions, consulates, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses, and educational institutions, to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Alliance partners help OSHA reach targeted audiences – such as employers and workers in high-hazard industries – and give them better access to workplace safety and health tools and information.

 

The SHES group, a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, offers a broad range of safety and health services to organizations in Georgia and the Southeast through its Region IV OSHA Training Institute Education Center and OSHA 21D Consultation Program.

 

“These alliances are critically important and effective in pooling our expertise to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities,” said Paul A. Schlumper, SHES’ manager for the Georgia On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program.

 

Typically, such alliances are comprised of groups working together to develop compliance assistance tools/resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. At the end of 2017, the SHES group was an active participant in five alliances. SHES also was active in seven partnerships last year, and added three more in 2018.  In a partnership, OSHA enters into an extended, voluntary, cooperative relationship with groups of employers, employees, and employee representatives to encourage, assist, and recognize their efforts to eliminate serious hazards and achieve a high level of worker safety and health.

 

“Our role as a member of an alliance or partnership can vary but may include conducting site inspections, conducting monitoring for air contaminants or noise,  attending alliance/partnership meetings, performing training, and development of safety and health resources,” Schlumper said.

 

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

 

About Safety, Health, and Environmental Services:

The Safety, Health, and Environmental Services group (SHES), a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology,  promotes excellence in the fields of occupational safety, health, and environmental compliance via the provision of world-class occupational safety and health and relevant training to the business community as a whole in support of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s training mission. SHES also provides on-site consultation services and environmental compliance assistance to small businesses in Georgia; participation in related community outreach; and support in various OSHA-related youth initiatives. For more information, please visit oshainfo.gatech.edu.