Industrial hygiene is the science of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling workplace conditions that may cause workers’ injury or illness.
A worksite analysis is an essential first step that helps an industrial hygienist determine what jobs are the sources of potential problems. During the worksite analysis, the industrial hygienist measures and identifies exposures, problem tasks, and risks. The most effective worksite analyses include all jobs, operations, and work activities. The industrial hygienist inspects, researches, or analyzes how the particular chemicals or physical hazards at that worksite affect worker health.
How we control hazards
Engineering, work practice, and administrative controls are the primary means of reducing employee exposure to occupational hazards.
Engineering controls minimize employee exposure by either reducing or removing the hazard at the source or isolating the worker from the hazards.
Engineering controls include eliminating toxic chemicals and replacing harmful toxic materials with less hazardous ones, enclosing work processes or confining work operations, and installing general and local ventilation systems.
Work practice controls alter the manner in which a task is performed. Some fundamental and easily implemented work practice controls include:
- Following proper procedures that minimize exposures while operating production and control equipment
- Inspecting and maintaining process and control equipment on a regular basis
- Implementing good house-keeping procedures
- Providing good supervision and
- Mandating that eating, drinking, smoking, chewing tobacco or gum, and applying cosmetics in regulated areas be prohibited.
Administrative controls include controlling employees’ exposure by scheduling production and workers’ tasks, or both, in ways that minimize exposure levels. For example, the employer might schedule operations with the highest exposure potential during periods when the fewest employees are present.
When effective work practices and/or engineering controls are not feasible to achieve the permissible exposure limit, or while such controls are being instituted, and in emergencies, appropriate respiratory equipment must be used. In addition, personal protective equipment such as gloves, safety goggles, helmets, safety shoes, and protective clothing may also be required. To be effective, personal protective equipment must be individually selected, properly fitted and periodically refitted; conscientiously and properly worn; regularly maintained; and replaced as necessary.