Occupational hygiene is simply the science of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling workplace conditions that may cause workers’ injury or illness. Industrial hygienists use environmental monitoring and analytical methods to detect the extent of worker exposure and employ engineering, work practice controls and other methods to control potential health hazards.
Although there are many aspects to occupational hygiene work the most known and sought after is in determining or estimating potential or actual exposures to hazards. For many chemicals and physical hazards, occupational exposure limits have been derived using toxicological, epidemiological and medical data allowing hygienists to reduce the risks of health effects by implementing the “Hierarchy of Hazard Controls”. Several methods can be applied in assessing the workplace or environment for exposure to a known or suspected hazard. Occupational hygienists do not rely on the accuracy of the equipment or method used, but in knowing with certainty and precision the limits of the equipment or method being used and the error or variance given by using that particular equipment or method.
The main steps outlined for assessing and managing occupational exposures:
- Basic Characterization (identify agents, hazards, people potentially exposed and existing exposure controls)
- Exposure Assessment (select occupational exposure limits, hazard bands, relevant toxicological data to determine if exposures are “acceptable”, “unacceptable” or “uncertain”)
- Exposure Controls (for “unacceptable” or “uncertain” exposures)
- Further Information Gathering (for “uncertain” exposures)
- Hazard Communication (for all exposures)
- Reassessment (as needed) / Management of Change
Levitt-Safety | EHS Training & Consulting Services offers a host of occupational hygiene services. Contact us today for more information.