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Industrial Hygiene

Last updated: May 5, 2019

What Does Industrial Hygiene Mean?

Industrial hygiene is a professional discipline that aims to anticipate, recognize, evaluate, and control hazardous factors in the workplace. Industrial hygienists are charged with recommending solutions to conditions that could harm workers, other individuals, or cause damage to the environment.

Outside the United States, industrial hygiene is known as occupational hygiene.

Safeopedia Explains Industrial Hygiene

Industrial hygienists must have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of science or engineering and have a minimum of three years of work experience in occupational safety.

As a specialized profession, most industrial hygienists also seek certification from the Board for Global EHS Credentialing (BGC), previously known as the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH), to demonstrate ongoing compliance with the required competencies and standards of their profession.

Principles of Industrial Hygiene

There are five basic principles of industrial hygiene:

  • Anticipation, which includes surveying the worksite, evaluating work processes, assessing the worker tasks, and taking stock of hazardous substances present on the worksite
  • Recognition, which involves identifying potential hazards, measuring exposure to hazardous substances, noting ventilation issues, verifying the duration of work shifts
  • Evaluation, which involves measuring the risk of exposure to identified health hazards by performing an Occupational Exposure Assessment
  • Control, which involves the implementation of appropriate hazard controls to mitigate risks in the workplace, while adhering to the hierarchy of hazard controls
  • Confirmation, which is the ongoing assessment of hazard control measures to ensure that they are effective and remain adequate

Role of Industrial Hygienists

Industrial hygienists work with a wide variety of safety issues, including occupational diseases, air quality, hazardous substances, radiation exposure, waste management, and ergonomic hazards.

They are also involved in understanding and developing best practices for exposure to hazardous substances and physical conditions. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) publishes Threshold Limit Values, an internationally recognized guideline for occupational exposure limits to various chemical substances and physical agents.

Industrial hygienists also conduct audits of workplace conditions to ensure that workplaces comply with relevant local, state, and federal regulations. Industrial hygienists can:

  • Identify hazards using applied scientific principles
  • Compile and analyze data about risks in the workplace
  • Interpret reports
  • Address hazards and risks by implementing controls and developing remediation programs
  • Integrate controls and programs in coordination with organizational managers
  • Manage and monitor these programs


Occupational Hygiene

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