What Is an Industrial Hygienist?
Industrial hygienists (or occupational hygienists) are applied scientists and engineers that help to manage and mitigate different aspects of industrial hygiene. In other words, they work to proactively recognize, evaluate, and control harmful substances or potential hazards involved with manufacturing, processing, construction, and other operational processes.
If that sounds like a broad range of work, it certainly is. Industrial hygienists are needed in almost every industry.
What Does an Industrial Hygienist Do?
At the core of the profession, industrial hygiene is about keeping people and their surrounding environments safe. This can manifest through a wide range of specialty areas, such as radiation, ergonomics, particulate matter, or really anything that can do harm to a person’s health.
Industrial hygienists can act as “hazard detectives,” using their knowledge base in chemistry, biology, physics, and human health to identify and evaluate potential health risks in the workplace.
Although industrial hygienists will often deal directly with technology on-site to identify hazards and assess risk, they also act as consultants, helping to guide and align company policies with financial, physical, and psychological realities. Industrial hygienists can make recommendations that affect individual worksites, or EHS initiatives that span the entire organization.
Once they’ve assessed the risk of a given potential hazard, they can also weigh in on the proposed control measures to ensure a sustainable, effective solution.
The Four Main Challenges of an Industrial Hygienist
Though it’s definitely in the job description, industrial hygienists aren’t just relegated to mitigating the risks of hazardous materials in the workplace. There are four main types of challenges that an industrial hygienist encounters:
- Physical hazards: This can encompass issues of air quality, radiation, unsafe temperature, slips, trips, falls, repetitive stress injuries, and other physical risks.
- Chemical hazards: This includes chemicals used in operations, potential water or food contamination, direct or indirect contact with harmful chemicals, harmful gases or liquids, lead exposure, and more.
- Biological hazards: This covers any pathological risks for workers or the community, as well as disease, germs that pose a risk to operational processes.
- Ergonomic hazards: Any environmental hazards to one’s physical or psychological health. This includes lighting, noise levels, office setups, workspace ergonomics, and more.
Global Lens on Industrial Hygiene
As a global Alliance we have the advantage of having a global lens and ability to serve our multinational clients with a local perspective but consistent deliverables.
"Our industrial clients care about the health of their employees. Regulations regarding health exposure can be very different in each country and in any case it evolves very quickly. Thanks to Inogen Alliance, we help industries evaluate potential chemical and physical exposures and risks in their multiple sites around the globe. For an automotive industrial group we ran hygiene exposure monitoring and assessments in 100 different sites, and we delivered the data management solution so the client could efficiently improve the hygiene exposure of the workers." - Cyril Pujol, Antea Group France.
For more on our capabilities check out our Industrial Hygiene service page here.
Check out more on this topic including more recent changes and COVID-19 impacts to industrial hygiene roles in the full blog on Antea Group USA. You can also view a docuseries featuring Antea Group USA with American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) here.
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