IATSE Hires Epidemiologists to Consult on Return-to-Work Procedures

Matthew Loeb - Getty  - H 2018
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IATSE president Matthew Loeb.

IATSE has hired a trio of epidemiologists to consult the union on best practices for workers in the entertainment industry to safely return to work in the era of COVID-19.

"We want everyone to get back to work as soon as possible, but we need to do it right," says IATSE international president Matthew D. Loeb. "We are working with these epidemiologists and employers to create standards that will apply across the board in the U.S. and Canada, so no production or worker is left behind."

The union represents an estimated 140,000 entertainment industry workers including cinematographers, production designers, hair stylists and makeup artists, editors and sound professionals. Many of these employees work in close proximity to one another.

The epidemiologists are David H. Wegman, Letitia Davis and Gregory R. Wagner.

Wegman is emeritus professor of work environment at UMass Lowell and adjunct professor for the Harvard School of Public Health. His research is focused on epidemiologic studies of occupational musculoskeletal disorders and cancer, and he's written on public health and policy issues including hazard and health surveillance and methods of exposure assessment for epidemiologic studies. 

For more than 30 years, Davis has served as director of the Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In this role, 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. 

Wagner is adjunct professor of environmental health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Until 2017, he worked at the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, where he was senior adviser to the director of NIOSH and directed the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (including a period overseeing the testing and certification of Personal Protective Equipment. He served as deputy assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health from 2009 to 2012 during the Obama administration, and has worked with the World Health Organization.