IATSE Hires Epidemiologists to Consult on Reopening Procedures

May 18, 2020

IATSE announced on May 18, 2020 they have hired a team of three epidemiologists to consult the union on best practices for workers in the entertainment industry to safely return to work. The move comes as workers in all sectors of the industry face unprecedented levels of unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and employers look to find a way to resume business.

IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb said, “We want everyone to get back to work as soon as possible, but we need to do it right. We are working with these epidemiologists and employers to create standards that will apply across the board in the US and Canada, so no production or worker is left behind.”

The epidemiologists include:

David H. Wegman, M.D., M.P.H., Emeritus Professor of Work Environment at UMass Lowell and Adjunct Professor for the Harvard School of Public Health

Letitia Davis, ScD, EdM, director of the Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Gregory R. Wagner, M.D., Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The nature of the entertainment industry presents unique challenges in a global pandemic. Much of the live event industry is dependent on drawing crowds of people for revenue. And behind the scenes, many workers, like those in Hair and Make-up and Wardrobe departments, must work in extremely close proximity to others to do their jobs. “Creative jobs will require creative measures to come back safely,” said Loeb. “These professionals will help us uncover what those measures should be.”

More information from IATSE is available, here.

More information and backgrounds for these three epidemiologists

David H. Wegman, M.D., M.P.H.

Research Interest
Epidemiologic studies of occupational respiratory disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and cancer; public health and policy issues concerning hazard and health surveillance, methods of exposure assessment for epidemiologic studies, the development of alternatives to regulation and the use of participatory methods to study occupational health risks; health and safety risks among construction workers; relationship of work risks and age both among child laborers and older adults.

Educational Background
B.A., History, Swarthmore College, 1962
M.D., Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 1966
M.Sc., Occupational Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 1972

David H. Wegman was named Emeritus Professor of Work Environment in 2009 after serving a five-year term as Dean of the School of Health and Environment. Prior to serving as dean he was the founding Chair of the Department of Work Environment, which was established in 1987. He also serves as Adjunct Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College and his M.D. and M.Sc. from Harvard University and is Board Certified in Preventive Medicine (Occupational Medicine). Previously he served as Director of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Health at the UCLA School of Public Health and on the faculty at Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Wegman has focused his research on epidemiologic studies of occupational respiratory disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and cancer and has published over 200 articles in the scientific literature. He has also written on public health and policy issues concerning hazard and health surveillance, methods of exposure assessment for epidemiologic studies, the development of alternatives to regulation and the use of participatory methods to study occupational health risks. He is co-editor with Dr. Barry Levy of one of the standard textbooks in the field of occupational health, Occupational Health: Recognition and Prevention of Work-Related Disease, the sixth edition of which will be published by Oxford University Press in 2010. His recent work focused on the examination of health and safety risks among construction workers involved in the building of the Third Harbor Tunnel and the underground Central Artery in Boston, and the study of the relationship of work risks and age both among child laborers and older adults. Dr. Wegman served as Treasurer of the International Epidemiological Association and as a member of the Board of Directors of the International Commission on Occupational Health and past Chair of its Scientific Committee on Epidemiology in Occupational Health. He has been an active participant in a number of National Academy of Science expert panels and was appointed as member of the Standing Committee on Human-Systems Integration in 2010. Currently he serves as Chair of the NRC Committees on Human Factors in Home Health Care and on the Review of the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research Portfolio and Outcomes. He previously has served as Chair of the NRC-IOM Committee on Review of NIOSH Research Programs, the NRC-IOM Committees on Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers, and the Health and Safety Consequences of Child Labor. He has been a member of the NRC-IOM Committee to Review the NIOSH Respiratory Disease Program, the Committee on Musculoskeletal Disorders and Work, the IOM Committees to Review the Health Consequences of Service During the Persian Gulf War and to Review Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors.

Dr. Wegman’s government service has included Chair of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Among Coal Mine Workers, member of the OSHA Standards Advisory Committee on Metal Working Fluids, consultant to the Director of NIOSH on the agency extramural research program and on research concerning aging and work. He has also served on the National Toxicology Program’s Board of Scientific Counselors, the NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors and the EPA Scientific Advisory Board. He serves as Chair of the Epidemiology Review Board for DuPont Corporation, and was past chair of the Occupational Health Advisory Board for the United Auto Workers and the General Motors Corporation. Dr. Wegman is an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, a member of the Editorial Boards of the Epidemiology Monitor, the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, Environmental Health (online) and New Solutions.

Letitia Davis, ScD, EdM

For over 30 years, Dr. Davis served as director of the Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. As director, she worked to develop the state’s capacity to track work-related injuries and illnesses and to use surveillance findings to promote prevention to improve the safety and health of Massachusetts workers. She oversaw development of multiple occupational health surveillance systems including the Massachusetts Occupational Lead Registry, a comprehensive surveillance system for fatal occupational injuries, the Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System, a surveillance system for work-related asthma, a model surveillance system for work-related injuries to young workers, and case-based surveillance and follow-up of work-related amputations, burns and acute chemical poisonings. She has conducted numerous surveillance research studies exploring use of existing public health data sources to document work-related health problems and has a special interest in better understanding the needs of underserved worker populations. At OHSP, she was also responsible for the development of and implementation of prevention initiatives to address identified occupational health problems and served as advisor to the Department leadership on matters of occupational health policy. From 1998 through 2015 Dr. Davis was a lead consultant in occupational health to the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), working on the national level to promote integration of occupational health into public health practice in the states. She is a past member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of NIOSH and the Advisory Committee to the Directorate of Construction in OSHA. She has also served on a number of National Academy committees, including a recent panel on smart occupational health surveillance in the 21st century. Since her retirement from OHSP in June 2019, she continues to work, consulting on both local and international epidemiologic studies of work and health and advising worker advocacy organizations. She is currently active in CSTE’s efforts to improve public health surveillance of COVID-19 in the workforce and protections for working people. Dr. Davis received her doctorate in Occupational Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1983.

Gregory R. Wagner, M.D. Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Throughout his career, Dr. Wagner has provided organizational leadership at the intersection of scientific research and public health policy, both nationally and internationally. Until 2017, he worked at the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), where he was senior advisor to the director of NIOSH, directed the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (including a period overseeing the testing and certification of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), led the process creating a National Occupational Research Agenda, and developed and led the WorkLife Initiative, seeking to better understand and promote policies and workplace practices that support worker health, safety, and wellbeing. Wagner interrupted his work at NIOSH to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health from 2009 to 2012 during the Obama Administration, where he led efforts to develop and enforce regulations protecting U.S. miners and played a primary role in responding to the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years. Wagner has worked closely with both the World Health Organization and International Labour Organization and has served on numerous expert committees nationally and internationally. A physician, Dr. Wagner is board-certified in both internal and preventive medicine (occupational health). He has practiced rural primary care medicine and taught both medicine and public health. Wagner received his BA from Harvard University and his MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. At Harvard, Dr. Wagner teaches about the science behind occupational and environmental policies and regulations, and the process of improving health protections at work. At Harvard he also serves as Senior Advisor to the Center for Work, Health, and Wellbeing, and is an Affiliated Scientist with the Harvard Center for Health and Happiness working to understand the relationships between working conditions and workers’ ability to thrive. Dr. Wagner has published widely in the areas of screening and surveillance, prevention of disease and injury from work, and workplace programs and policies supporting worker and enterprise health, safety, and wellbeing.