WHAT IS INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE?
Industrial hygiene is the practice of identifying, evaluating, and controlling workplace stressors or hazards that can affect the health and safety of workers, their families, and those in the community. These hazards fall into one or more categories and are referred to as either chemical, physical, or biological agents. Ideally, hazards are identified and controlled when a workplace is planned through design reviews, when conditions or processes change, or through yearly reviews or surveys. By identifying hazards before a worker is adversely affected, employers can proactively protect their employees and their families and prevent long-term health effects. Most employers do not typically have professionals as part of their safety team who are qualified to perform industrial hygiene assessments, unless they are a large corporation.
IDENTIFYING AND EVALUATING HAZARDS
How can you as an employer, identify those stressors and hazards that could negatively impact your employees, and do so in a cost-efficient manner? You can easily hire an industrial hygiene consultant. The role of an industrial hygienist is to anticipate, recognize, and evaluate health and safety hazards or concerns and recommend controls to prevent negative health effects from exposures to identified hazards (i.e. chemical, physical, or biological). But you should know, anyone can call themselves an industrial hygienist. To ensure that you, as a responsible employer, are utilizing a knowledgeable and experienced professional, the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) certifies industrial hygienists, providing a well-respected benchmark in the field. The ABIH was established as an independent body with the sole purpose of providing a certification program that ensures a minimum level of knowledge, skills, and education in industrial hygiene. Once certified, the industrial hygienist is designated as a Certified Industrial Hygienist or CIH. CIH’s are recognized as the “gold standard” or the most qualified expert when it comes to evaluating exposures in the workplace or community.